May 20, 2020

Business Processes: Definitions and Top Tips

Process Improvement
↩ Back to Blog Homepage

Every business serves a customer and a need. As such, the success of a business relies on how well a company can provide what a customer needs to feel satisfied and hopefully remain loyal to that business. An entrepreneur or business owner can help to ensure success by defining and designing ideal business processes. 

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about business processes and other related terms and tools of the trade. 

Business Process Definitions: What is a Business Process?

What exactly is a business process, and how does it function? Here are some important definitions: 

  • Business Process: A business process is a compilation of tasks performed by stakeholders that work to deliver a goal, such as a service or product. The tasks are either triggered or automated by an event and result in the delivery of the final output for the customer. A business process is so pertinent in businesses because it’s a building block of everything that happens, from day-to-day operations to the set up of automated workflows. 
  • Business Process Flow: To visually depict a business process, you can rely on a business process flow. A business process flow is broken down into stages. Within each stage, some steps need to be completed for the next stage to happen. 

The Importance of Business Processes

Just like your people make your business what it is, so do your business processes. Having well-defined business processes can allow for smooth operations, reduced bottlenecks, and increased customer/employee satisfaction. 

All in all, a business process is the first step in helping to build a profitable and long-standing company. 


Benefits of a Well-Defined Business Process

Having well-defined business processes can also help set your business up to achieve:

  • Maximum efficiency
  • A clear understanding of business goals
  • Proper allocation of resources
  • Streamlined communication between departments
  • A standardised set of procedures and ways of doing business
  • A reduced amount of chaos and errors 

Business Processes Categories

Businesses are dynamic and ever-changing. There are many different types of processes that help them operate day after day. 

To continue to deliver goods and services promptly to customers, it’s useful to take a look at your business processes across every category in which they exist. 

Business processes fall into these following broad categories:

  • Operational Processes: Primary and operational processes refer to those that are fundamental to create the output for the customer. Every task and step in such processes add value to the final product. For example, marketing and HR fall into this category. 
  • Supporting Processes: A supporting process is just what it sounds like. While it doesn’t add direct value to the outcome, a supporting process ensures that everything can run efficiently and effectively. For example, technical support is a part of this category. 
  • Management Processes: Management processes define how to set up supporting and operational processes. They include corporate governance and strategy. 

Each business process should be purposefully designed to minimise costs and maximise output to meet customer needs. To ensure that business processes are operating as they are intended to, consider placing one person as a manager to be in charge of each process. 

Steps of  Business Process Lifecycle

To construct business processes, follow these steps to success: 

  • Define goals: State why you are creating this process in the first place. 
  • Map your process: Build the roadmap to depict all the steps in the process. 
  • Assign stakeholders: For each step, identify the person who will be responsible for making it happen. 
  • Test the process: Run the process and check its outcome for flaws or gaps. 
  • Implement: Run the process on a broad scale and in a live environment as soon as all stakeholders have been adequately trained. 
  • Monitor results: Analyse results and document the process to create a history. 
  • Repeat: If the process is meeting its goals from step one, continue to run the process. If not, enact process improvement. 

Example of a Business Process

Let’s look at an example of a business process that most organisations can relate to, namely hiring a new employee. The process may look something like this: 

  • A hiring manager floats a job description and “now hiring” message into the marketplace. 
  • Once applicants reply, a hiring manager filters through them based on qualifications. 
  • A hiring manager and key personnel perform interviews and select the best candidate. 
  • The business brings on the new hire and provides training. 
  • The business (hiring manager or manager) continues to offer support to the new hire and measures the new hire’s progress based on defined criteria.

As you can see, at each step, someone is made responsible for ensuring the process is moving forward to the next consecutive step. 

Essential Elements of an Ideal Business Process 

Naturally, every business process is dependent on its intended goal. However, ideal business processes contain these characteristics:

  • Finite: There is a definite start and endpoint, with a limited number of steps. 
  • Repeatable: The process can be repeated indefinitely. 
  • Flexible: When clear improvements can be made, the process is adaptable to implement changes. 
  • Creates value: Importantly, each step should provide value; otherwise, it only contributes to waste. 


Terms Related to Business Process

Many terms are related to business processes that are crucial to understanding to run a successful operation. 

Here, we will define some of the most outstanding key terms: 

1. Business process automation: Business process automation is the incorporation of automation tools to manage day-to-day tasks. BPA replaces the need for human intervention as it is programmed to follow the steps that a person would have otherwise taken to complete a task. The best types of processes for BPA are those that are: repetitive, consistent and prone to error. Automation solutions like SolveXia support BPA replacing by automating low-value manual tasks with high-value analytical tasks. BPA also maps out the process of improving compliance by creating clear audit trails and reducing bottlenecks by reducing dependency on key staff to perform specific tasks because the process is mapped out simply in the system.

2. Business process management (BPM): BPM is how business designs, edits, and analyses its core processes. To do so effectively, every department plays a role in analysing their operations and seeing both the details and the big picture. BPM is systematic and continuous to meet needs as businesses evolve. There are software solutions that help implement BPM. 

3. Business process monitoringBusiness process monitoring is the action of reviewing and analysing current business processes to identify pitfalls and successes. It falls under the umbrella of business process management, and some consider it to be the most critical part because it opens the door for improvement. 

4. Business process visibility: This refers to the ability to be able to see every step of a process at any given time. 

5. Business process mapping: A business process map is a visual representation of the process flow. It includes each step, who is responsible, what the process achieves and how it is measured for success. 

6. Business process improvement: Business process improvement is an analytical exercise to analyse existing processes. It shines a light on areas that need improvement and provides the methodology for how to enact a new or updated process. 

7. Business process reengineering: Business process reengineering is a radical step to redesign core business processes to spur significant improvements in productivity, quality and timeliness. To perform business process reengineering, it’s as if a company is creating a clean slate from which to design the processes to provide more value to the customer. It starts with breaking down the organisation into cross-functional teams. Then, that step is followed by implementing technology to help with better decision-making. 

8. Business process optimisation: Business process optimisation is the act of changing a process to optimise a specific parameter while remaining in line with constraints. For example, one of the most common goals of business process optimisation is to lower costs. 

9. Business process integration: Business process integration is how a business can combine and connect systems and information to function most effectively. 

Benefits of Using Business Process Software

Whether you are a large or small business, you have many hands touching your daily work. In this way, things could become messy and more error-prone. This can create bottlenecks and critical person dependencies. 

To avoid such downfalls, you can leverage business process software such as data automation to help ensure smooth business processes. The benefits of business process software span:

  • Reduction of risks
  • Elimination of redundancies
  • Minimised costs
  • Improved collaboration
  • Improved agility
  • Improved productivity
  • Increased efficiency
  • Increased compliance

Top Business Processes

Let’s take a look at some of the most common business processes. 

  • Client Onboarding: Client onboarding is based on your industry and business model. However, having a smooth business process can make all the difference. Research has shown that an increase in customer retention by just 5% can increase profits by 25-95%. The primary goal of onboarding a new client is to ensure they have the support and guidance they need to consume your product or service. Moving from sales to a customer support team should be a seamless process. 
  • Content Marketing: The utilisation of content to drive engagement and sales is a significant marketing effort. This type of workflow requires a designed process. For example, it could include: researching SEO keywords, having a writer create the content, having an editor review it, incorporating designers for graphic elements, and relying on an analytics team to monitor its success. Content marketing also includes how you publish your messages and will likely involve a process designed to reach the most eyes. 
  • Procurement: Procurement is a process that involves actions like selecting the right vendors, defining payment terms, and negotiating the purchasing of supplies. The importance of a well-designed process can make or break ties with vendors and create an environment that is either built to minimise cost or one that generates too much waste. 
  • Product Development: Developing your product opens the door to providing the utmost benefit to your customers. It’s a foundation for a business to grow upon. Since the marketplace and surrounding environment is continuously changing, product development is a process that will require continuous process improvement to remain competitive. 
  • Sales Process: Creating a stellar product can only reap success if the sales process is set up correctly. A sales process involves a buyer’s journey, and all the steps it takes to move a prospective customer to become a customer. Process steps include qualifying a lead to fulfil an order and everything in between. 
  • Employee Onboarding: Just like client onboarding, employee onboarding is crucial to business success. Those who work for you should feel motivated and supported to do their tasks to serve the customer better. Standard onboarding processes can help to promote less employee turnover and increased employee productivity. 

There are so many other business processes that play a prominent role in a business’ functioning. Without going into further detail, it still pays to make sure you establish processes for the following, too:

  • Customer Support
  • Content Promotion
  • Financial Planning
  • Accounting Management

The Bottom Line 

Like a living and breathing organism, businesses rely on internal and external processes to keep them alive. Understanding the ins and outs of your business processes can set you up for success and help to protect you against failure. To best support business processes and efficient operations, you can leverage technology and automation tools to help streamline such processes and work alongside your employees to maximise efficiency. 

More posts from SolveXia

Why SolveXia
5 Ways SolveXia Provides Bank-Grade Data Protection
Protecting your data is a top priority. If you’re looking for an automation solution that protects all your needs, see how we can help.
Read more »
Finance Leadership
10 Reasons Why The Largest Financial Institutions Use SolveXia
Automating your finance department results in efficiency and lowered costs. See why SolveXia is a top choice for automation.
Read more »
Why SolveXia
5 Steps for Using SolveXia to Create Detailed Audit Reports
How to create detailed audit reports using SolveXia. You can use these simple steps for auditors or internal process control.
Read more »

Reach Out and Start Automating Today

Try it Free