What Is A Business Process?

Written by Ian James, Sep 10, 2013

So, what is a business process? Every process has a start, an end and steps 'adding value' in between. This short video gives a concise and easily understood definition.

Simple whiteboard video with stick figures explaining the concept of process at a beginner level.

So, what is a business process?  Well, first, what’s a business? At root, a business is an organization. It’s a group of people that coordinate their work to create value.

Now, there are few things of any worth created by a single person working alone. Nearly always, it takes the combined efforts of many people. But we specialize. We break up the job of creating value into chunks or activities that individuals can do according to their skillset.

We do these activities in a given sequence. We do our bit of work and then pass it on to the next person. Like an assembly line.

And like an assembly line, a process has a start, an end and a series of activities in between. Each activity creates something or changes something. In the jargon of business process this is called “adding  value” .

So something goes into the activity and something different comes out. Technically, these are know as the input and output. Pretty obviously, the something before the activity is called the input, and the something after is called the output.

We usually assign somebody with the right skillset the responsibility of doing the work.  We call this their role.

Sometimes in the sequence we need to make a decision with different paths to follow depending on the case so there can be branches or gateways.

Put that all together and it’s called a business process.

A sequence of activities designed to create something of value.

It’s a simple concept but it a pretty important one.  Because how well we do them, how long they take, how accurate they, has a big impact on the output of an organization and thus its success. Faster, better, cheaper, is down in entirely to how well we execute our business processes.

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