Characteristics of Business Processes
By Howard Smith and Peter Fingar4
Large and complex, involving the
end-to-end flow of materials, information and business commitments.
Dynamic, responding to demands
from customers and to changing market conditions.
Widely distributed and customized across
boundaries within and between businesses, often spanning
multiple applications on disparate technology platforms.
Long-running a single instance
of a process such as "order to cash" or "develop product" may run
for months or even years.
Automated at least in part.
Routine or mundane activities are performed by computers wherever
possible, for the sake of speed and reliability.
Both "business" and "technical" in nature
IT processes are a subset of business processes and provide
support to larger processes involving both people and machines.
End-to-end business processes depend on distributed computing
systems that are both transactional and collaborative. Process
models may therefore comprise network models, object models, control
flows, message flows, business rules, metrics, exceptions,
transformations and assignments.
Dependent on and supportive of the
intelligence and judgment of humans. People perform tasks
that are too unstructured to delegate to a computer or that require
personal interaction with customers. People also make sense of the
rich information flowing through the
solving problems before they irritate customers and devising
take advantage of new market opportunities.
Difficult to make visible. In many
companies business processes have been neither conscious nor
explicit. They are undocumented, embedded, ingrained and implicit
within the communal history of the organization, or if they are
documented or definition is maintained independently of the systems
that support them.
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Process is "an organized group of related activities that
together create a result of
value to customers."1
Each word in this definition is important:
A process is a group
of activities, not just one. Value is created not by single activities,
but by the entire process in which all these tasks merge in a systematic
way for a clear purpose.
Activities are related
and organized. They present a stream
of relevant, interconnected activities that must be performed in
sequence the right things in the right way to produce the desired
All the activities in the process work
together toward a common goal.
"People performing different steps of a process must all be aligned
around a single purpose, instead of focusing on their individual tasks
Process are not ends in themselves. They have a purpose,
they create and deliver results
that customers care about.
"A business process is the complete and
dynamically coordinated set of collaborative and transactional activities that
value to customers."4
6Ws of Corporate
win and retain customers...
Business Process (BP):
"A process is a specific ordering of work activities across
time and place, with a beginning, and end, and clearly identified inputs and
outputs: a structure for action."3
This definition is easy to apply in the context of the work
activities and tasks within a single department or functional group.2
If the employees of different functional groups lack a common purpose and
direction, each one will inevitably work at cross-purpose with the others.
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Yin: Adapt your processes
to the needs of your customers; Make it easy for your customers to do
business with you.
Yang: Innovate to exceed
expectations of your customers; Help your customers and suppliers to
benefit from your innovation.
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Kaizen Continuous Improvement
Kaizen means "improvement". Kaizen
strategy calls for
never-ending efforts for improvement involving everyone
in the organization managers and workers alike...
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Emphasis on process
establish a way of
thinking oriented at improving processes, and a management
system that supports and acknowledges people's process-oriented
efforts for improvement...
Process (EBP): Systems View
Enterprise business process (EBP) is "the end-to-end
(cross-departmental, and often, cross-company) coordination of work
activities that create and deliver ultimate
value to customers."2
Business Process Management (EBPM)
EBPM, representing the third-wave of Business Process
Management, is "a deliberate and collaborative approach to
systematically and systemically managing all of a company's business
EBPM addresses the pressing need of the
new knowledge-driven economy to integrate business process
organizational structure and people issues.
It requires that your executive team lead and manage differently and
think more systemically about your business...
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Look at your business from the outside-in,
from the customer's perspective, as well as from the inside-out...
Business processes must not only
incorporate timely company information for improved
customer relationship management,
supply chain management, and beyond,
they must also be kept up-to-date with fast-changing business needs.
E-business facilitating these processes is the way most business soon
will be transacted. Whether or not you ever plan to sell products or
services over the Web, your most important customer or supplier may one day
insist upon using Web for all transaction...
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enjoyment at work and
employee empowerment but also stimulates individual and team learning in
order to develop a motivated workforce and sustainable
performance improvement and
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Cross-functional management (CFM)
manages business processes across the traditional boundaries of the
functional areas. CFM relates to coordinating and
synergizing the activities of
different units for realizing the superordinate cross-functional goals and
policy deployment. It is concerned with
building a better system for achieving such cross-functional goals as
cost, and delivery...