business process guide

What is Business Process? Definitions & Automation Guide

Published On: February 16, 2023
By: Warren Jenkins

By definition, the business process is a series of interwoven steps undertaken in an organization from the beginning to the achievement of outcomes in a well-defined manner. Each of these steps is crucial to the overall success and the way it adds ‘value’ can be a key approach to staying ahead of the competition.

Whether you’re thinking of opening a taco stand or a logistics giant, dealing with a business process is a ubiquitous reality. It may be tempting to assume that a taco stand is just you getting money selling tacos but it inevitably involves steps like attracting customers (brand awareness/ marketing), taking orders (POS), food preparation (core operations), payment processing, delivery of service, keeping records to track expenses, inventory management, and streamlining to reduce operating costs while improving client satisfaction.

Does this image make sense? No, it doesn’t! It looks like a graphical representation of processes when you just glance at it but once you look deeper, nothing in here makes sense and everything’s a mess. This represents the internal situation of most organizations! Everything seems to be working at a glance but everything is in shambles in reality once you look deeper.

A 2014 Gallup study involving 143 CEOs suggests that CEOs scoring high on delegator talent made 33% more revenue than the rest in a three-year time frame. In a well-managed company, separate individuals or departments handle tasks they excel at so the rest can focus on their strengths. This approach can not only expose underlying problems in each step but also helps identify and focus on priorities for the accomplishment of tasks

Common issues like poor communication and incompetent task delegation can easily create potential bottlenecks in business processes. By identifying “as-is” processes and automating routine tasks by integrating business process flows, robotic process automation can help teams communicate better and reach deadlines faster.

Turn your organization into a well-functioning machine by having proper business processes within your organization.

Albeit setting up automation pipelines can be a lot of work upfront, it can help employees get rid of repetitive chores like entering invoice details, employee onboarding, and an employee responding to customers only to find out that somebody in another department would be more helpful! Instead, resources can be better utilized on higher-value tasks like studying the competition and streamlining processes for improved efficiency.

Types Of Business Processes

In order to streamline processes so your company can deliver more value to your customers, we need to be able to spot individual processes as part of a larger whole and see where they fit in the grand scheme of business process design.

As the functional requirements of a business can vary, business processes can take on different names but broadly speaking, they can be classified into core, support, and management processes. Not only do the core processes need to align with the organizational goals and resonate with end customers, but it’s also crucial that support processes are optimized so delivery can be efficient.

Core processes

Core processes are the activities that drive the value chain in an organization and are at the heart of operations. If you’re an IT firm, coding the product and running ad campaigns to increase conversions to your website would be core processes as these generate revenue.

These not only include product creation and marketing but also encompass various aspects of business process management like customer journey mapping, staying true to the vision of the organization, and integrating various processes seamlessly. In some way, core processes can be cross-linked and possess significant overlap between primary business process categories.

Support processes

The key distinction between core and support processes is – while core processes are meant to provide value to external customers, support processes serve you. They don’t directly generate revenue but that’s okay, as they allow core processes to run smoothly.

The accounting department handles billing clients and paying for office expenses and it may seem that they aren’t an essential part of business operations as they don’t attract clients. But take the accounts department out of the picture, and it’s not hard to imagine employees spending a good portion of their time writing invoices and settling financial disputes while they could be focusing on things they specialize in. The same can be said for HR, finance, admin, and IT operations – all of these support processes have an important role to play and keep the business floating and productive.

Management processes

As business processes are constantly evolving, they require careful planning, managing, and streamlining in order to achieve good coordination and an efficient workflow. Management processes are quite similar to support processes in that they don’t directly generate revenue but instead of providing resources to carry out activities that form the bulk of day-to-day operations other than primary processes, management processes keep an eye over both core processes and support processes.

Management processes track business process flows and monitor metrics like employee and customer satisfaction, efficiency in workflow, and leverage research to enhance efficiency for operations by implementing gradual changes to “as-is” processes.

At the heart of management processes lies the need for business process automation and tweaking core processes with the goal of increasing revenue generation by using customer data insights.

The Importance Of Business Processes

Since business processes are an inevitable part of any organization, implementing well-integrated processes can not only help bring down issues due to poor coordination, but it can also help reduce the time and resources employees are spending on redundant activities, identify bottlenecks in performance, and take appropriate steps to maximize productivity.

Some apparent reasons why business processes are vital to a company are:

Streamlining individual activities to mitigate redundant activities:

By identifying repetitive tasks, decentralization of processes, and analyzing the flow of business activities, time and resources can be freed up. The business can now focus on core revenue-generating activities without getting caught up in tending to support processes.

Improved efficiency and consistency in quality

Research suggests that companies are losing a third of their time to admin duties (roughly $5 trillion per year). Optimized processes can help make departments more efficient and cut down on non-productive activities. By putting appropriate safeguards in place, inconsistencies and probable errors due to human elements can also be monitored and dealt with.

Bringing back focus on customer experiences

By mapping out the customer journey, businesses can not identify issues in cross-functional collaboration but also utilize data-driven decisions to work out pain points and meet customer expectations. It can also help craft authentic customer stories for improving brand awareness and gathering insights to enhance customer experiences.

Ensuring swift accomplishment of tasks

Business process mapping helps automate tasks that might be taking up precious time in an organization. Clear processes also help individuals involved in each step perform their duties efficiently without confusion.

Leveraging context to process for improved decision-making

Focusing on current situations regarding employees and customer needs can help businesses make relevant and apt decisions in the face of adversity. The abundance of customer data can also be used in making data-driven choices to create favorable outcomes.

Assuring compliance and preventing regulatory issues

Integrating risk assessment, flexible approaches for staff awareness and monitoring compliance issues can help prevent costly legal issues. Clear processes and guidelines can help the staff avoid these issues in the first place.

Reduced chances of miscommunication

As businesses scale, existing monolithic approaches can be a bottleneck in cross-functional collaboration. Adopting microservices architecture can help streamline business operations so maximum productivity can be achieved.

Resilience and flexibility to adapt

Having well-defined and specific processes mapped out for each step of the business process flow can help create a baseline for quickly adapting to market changes or changes in customer preferences. Businesses with a flexible approach stayed afloat during the pandemic by implementing novel inclusive business models; strategies like this can be implemented quickly if business processes are clearly mapped out.

What Are The Essential Attributes Of An Ideal Business Process?

Business process management is an important tool in a company’s arsenal. It can help manage the flow of business activities ultimately leading to the successful accomplishment of tasks that are closely tied to the vision of an organization.

attributes of a good business process

All steps in business process flow need to generate value – and streamlining is achieved by identifying bottlenecks in operational processes that aren’t producing any value. Below are the essential attributes of an ideal business process:

Finite

Having vague activities outlined in the business process flows can create confusion and negatively affect efficiency. Business processes have a definite structure to them and possess a clear beginning and end.

The finite nature of business processes can be seen during the hiring process – a company puts out vacancies, analyses resumes, conducts a series of interviews, checks references, and makes a decision. Similar steps can be seen in employee onboarding, project management, and continuous product development.

Repeatable

There are many steps in an organization that is recurring and have similar outcomes. Consistency in individual business operations helps prevent bias and achieve similar results in every situation. Since these steps follow a specific order, business process automation can help make the most of the time and resources in an organization and improve efficiency.

The details in product development may vary for different clients but at its core, it involves figuring out client requirements, delegating tasks to respective departments, and continuous integration while fixing errors. CRM, hiring process, product launches, and performance analysis are repeatable processes.

Creates value

Each step in business operations aims to create value and without sufficient value generation, it becomes a bottleneck in efficiency.

Ensuring that the requirements are met, appropriate technologies are used, end-to-end and integration tests are done, and there are no loose ends in functionality are some ways that the step of product development ensures value delivery.

Adaptive

Business processes need to be clearly defined but still open to changes. As the market and customer preferences can change at any time, businesses that don’t have adaptable processes are bound to lag behind the competition. Processes need to be receptive to change and fulfill outcomes accordingly.

During the COVID pandemic, companies that made the switch to adopt remote work into core operations managed to keep revenues coming while those unwilling to have workers work from home had to shut down. Other examples of adaptive processes include product development, customer service, risk management, and marketing.

Flexibility

Flexibility in processes allows them to be molded to different circumstances to reap maximum benefits without being stuck to a rigid paradigm. Both core processes and support processes need to be flexible enough to allow both employees and customers to navigate their way through unforeseen circumstances.

Product development teams in IT firms need to be able to incorporate changing client needs or make adjustments according to the preferences of the intended user. A flexible approach to business processes also helps improve customer satisfaction and generate an impactful customer story.

Examples Of Business Processes

Business processes can vary depending on the activities and primary offerings of a company, but these are some common processes:

HR processes

As competent employees have the motivation and ability to fulfill an organization’s long-term goals, it makes sense for companies to try to enlist highly skilled and qualified individuals to their aid. HR processes not only need to ensure a candidate’s fit for the position, but they also need to run a background check on potential employees, handle onboarding if they’re selected, monitor performance, keep records for individual employees, as well as provide salaries and incentives.

HR Processes in an organization

For recruitment alone, it can take 2-3 rounds of interviews to distill top performers from median talent, and since the hiring team needs to go through hundreds if not thousands of candidates to shortlist the best fits, it can take a lot of resources. Automating interview rounds and screening candidates with AI tools can help save precious time.

Using a mix of human expertise and technological tools like an Integrated Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or Employee Management System (ETS) can be a beneficial approach for companies trying to streamline HR processes.

Marketing Process

The marketing process is integral to trying to gain new by targeting potential customers. As marketing is often tightly coupled with market research, it can encompass a wide range of sub-processes including competition research, segmentation, targeting and positioning (STP), strategy formulation, and customer feedback.

marketing business process

Tools like content management systems (CMS), ad-campaign management software, and post schedulers can be very helpful to businesses trying to automate various aspects of the marketing process.

Document Process

Every organization needs to deal with documents like business plans, contracts, invoices, policies, technical documentation, resumes, and marketing materials. Creation, versioning, approval, dissemination, and archival of documents are repetitive tasks and often, it’s also important to keep them secure and confidential.

Read: Document Management Workflow Complete Guide

document workflow

While simple word-processing apps are capable of creating and sharing documents, using project management software or workflow management software can save a lot of time in the long run as teams need to collaborate, process automatic approvals, track changes, and make sure the files don’t get misplaced.

By streamlining elements of the document process, support processes can be made more efficient thus allowing more time to be spent on core processes.

Digital Asset Management Process

Digital asset management (DAM) is the process of storing digital assets like multimedia – text, images, videos, slides, prototypes, etc. in a safe space. Usually, this process is automated and sorting is done so retrieval can be hassle-free – sorting by date or client is common.

Multimedia is a vital part of business operations – and DAM solutions can help easily manage digital assets by cataloging for efficient retrieval, distribution, and automated disposal at the end of their lifecycle.

Sales Process

There is a significant overlap between marketing and sales process but while marketing deals with lead generation by building brand awareness on a larger scale, the sales process deals with customers on a direct basis and ensures revenue is made.

Read: Creating a Sales Approval Process within Jetdocs

sales process

Steps like approaching leads, sending quotes, resolving conflicts, billing, payment processing, initiating delivery, and follow-up are parts of the sales process. These can be efficiently managed by marketing and sales automation tools that take care of scheduling, follow-up, and generating statistics for analysis.

Customer Service Process

Responding to customers is also an important part of business operations. Customers are the main focus of business and taking care of customer queries and ensuring maximum customer satisfaction can help retain customer loyalty and gain new clients. The customer service process entails all activities including touch-down, routing, addressing their concerns, and logging the inquiry and resolution time to reduce the resolution times by using current metrics as a baseline.

Customer support Image for business process

According to research done by Invespcro, attracting new clients can cost as much as five times more compared to retaining existing clients. Integrated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) services tools can help analyze present statistics and streamline processes for improving conversion rates.

Setup Jetdocs to Create Business Processes

Once you have your goals for the process in your mind, you should start creating them somewhere! Figuring out what goes where and what happens next is not the only important aspect of business processes, actually doing it is the bigger part. And Jetdocs helps you do that!

Jetdocs is a collaborative software that integrates directly into your Microsoft or Slack workspace and helps you create efficient processes for various goals for various departments. Whether it be a complex legal workflow where Legal needs to get the budget from Finance, get approval from the Executives, send it to the specific employee to sign, and then be reviewed by a specific legal team member and be sent back again to the executives and so much more or a simple employee leave of absence, Jetdocs takes care of it all by fully automating the handling process once setup.

Install Jetdocs

While Jetdocs does have an independent interface that you can sign into directly, most of our users sign up through one of our direct integrations and install Jetdocs to their Teams or Slack workspace.

To do so, simply head out to our installation page, and select the platform you wish to proceed with.

Simply choose the platform you’d like to proceed with. For the sake of this example, we will be going with Teams.

Options you see on our installation page.

Complete the onboarding flow (takes two minutes) until you get to the homepage. Our onboarding flow is fairly simple and gives you a general idea of what Jetdocs can achieve for you and your team.

Assign Users to Jetdocs

Jetdocs free plans allow you up to 10 users. You can easily bring anyone that is part of your Teams workspace into Jetdocs. To do so, simply go to User Management from the menu on top left, clicking on the dropdown beside “Ticket Portal”.

From there, go to the “Organization Users” section and assign a chair to anyone you want to give a seat in Jetdocs.

Once you invite everyone that’ll be part of the process into Jetdocs, assign their roles on the “Workspace Roles” section. Jetdocs comes with 3 user roles, Admin, Editor & Member. Admin can do everything, Editors can create processes but can’t manage users and organization settings, and Members cannot create processes but can be part of processes.

To learn about individual user roles, go to our documentation on Admin, Editor & Member role permissions.

How to Create & Automate Business Processes?

Finally, once we have every one that will be part of a process inside Jetdocs, we can go about creating a process. The time it takes to create a process truly depends on the complexity of the process.

To create a process, click on the dropdown on the top left, and go back to the “Ticketing Center”, where you will find “Catalog Builder”. That is where we will create processes.

In the catalog builder either, choose the existing category or create a new one. This is for your internal reference only, doesn’t affect anything.

Then, open the category you would like to create a business process for and click on “New Template”

The process I will be building for this example, is where a supervisor can request performance self ratings from an employee which will be sent to HR for review, then accounting for expense review and lastly back to supervisor for final yes.

Step 1: Outline the required fields.

Fill out the basic requirements such as the form name and descriptions.

Second, define the information you want to be passed in this process. For me, I want the employee to self-evaluate, so in question 1, the supervisor can select which employee they want evaluation from, so this process will be sent to that particular employee only (done in the next step), 2-6 are basic filler questions, and 7 is a conditional question that is only asked if certain conditions are met.

Now I will assign this process to the employee selected on step 1, I will do so by making sure this ticket does not go to the General queue and instead select the person assigned, the employee as shown below.

Once I select “User response to 1” that means this process will be first sent to the user we selected on question 1 to be filled out.

Step 2: Create the flow for the process

Now I am gonna make the process, so first the employee fills out the form. After that, automatically the issue gets assigned to Human resources, then finance then the exec team for individual reviews. All done automatically, step-by-step.

Step 3: More Advanced Features

Not just the basic approval automation so the ticket flows through the teams seamlessly, Jetdocs has advanced features such as SLAs, breach notifications, priority levels, selection on who can view the process, and lastly the option to integrate with thousands of applications with Zapier.

For example, if the employee did not meet performance benchmarks and got rejected in any step, you can automatically trigger Zapier to book a meeting with the employee to discuss the options available.

Step 4: Use the processes created

To use the business process you just created, simply go to the “Catalog” tab, and depending on who you chose in the visibility section, those users within the organization will be able to view and go through the process.

Why Should You Improve Your Business Processes?

Business process improvement (BPI) involves figuring out what processes aren’t creating value and reducing friction at touch-down points so processes can be streamlined toward fulfilling business goals more efficiently. Having clear processes and ensuring that each business flow step is productive is even more essential as the company scales or wants to increase revenues by identifying gaps in operating practices.

Creating Business Process Graphic illustration

Here are some reasons improving business processes can make a lot of sense:

Efficiency

Getting rid of issues the staff may be facing and delegating tasks to those that are qualified can help improve the efficiency of business operations. Faster delivery times, improved quality, and consistency in the flow of business activities are some obvious benefits.

Not only does improving business processes help cut down on operating costs but resources can also be freed for more productive tasks like revenue generation!

Productivity

Getting rid of distractions and having appropriate measures in place to automate tedious low-value tasks can motivate employees to engage in high-value tasks. This can also uplift their mood, prevent common mistakes and improve coordination within teams, all of which lead to a boost in productivity.

Convenience

Improving current processes is easier than designing new systems. Often, it’s more logical to improve on existing processes than to implement new systems from scratch as the switch can cost a lot of resources. If the employees at a company are familiar with a certain way of doing things, gradual adoption of new technologies makes more sense – and this can help reduce financial and time-related costs.

Employee satisfaction

A job satisfaction study done by Inayat W, suggests that employee satisfaction is linked to higher performance at work. This means that companies that focus on their employees and keep them happy and motivated have a higher rate of success than those that do not.

Clear processes can not only reduce tedious tasks like data entry, and dealing with unreasonable customers, and instead help the staff stay in a good mood and stress-free.

Customer satisfaction

As businesses are becoming people-centric and adopting CRM practices, it’s no surprise that customers are more likely to prefer businesses where they feel valued over places that aren’t as responsive or helpful to their needs.

Efficient business processes can free up employee time and increase the quality of interaction with customers thus leading to better customer service. This can also help in gathering valuable customer insights through customer journey mapping and formulating approaches for increasing alignment with customers.

Flexibility

Improving business processes can also help deal with legacy systems and avoid technical debt before it becomes too expensive to fix. BPI can help create flexible systems that work effortlessly under a variety of circumstances and also provides a degree of autonomy to the staff involved.

Edge over the competition

One way to stay ahead of competitive markets is to continuously keep an eye out for what the competition is doing. It could be a minor change in spending or a major rehaul to adapt to changing customer preferences.

How To Create Business Processes?

Business processes aim to create value for the end users and if properly aligned with the vision of the organization, can be instrumental in empowering business users and realizing specific business goals. Like the changing market demands, the activities encompassed within business processes are also constantly changing, so it’s important to monitor and implement apt changes.

Creating business processes can be broken down into the following easy steps:

Identify the purpose

Identifying the purpose of a process can help businesses gain valuable insights to streamline it for efficiency. An easy way to figure this out is to ask yourself- what value does this step drive, and is it really necessary?

Break steps into measurable activities

Each step in a business process flow consists of a clear beginning and end, so determine what the outcomes and activities within the process are. Large processes can create problems later, so it’s a good idea to break the processes into small, distinct operations that can be tracked and monitored. Designing a business process can be tricky, so it’s also a good idea to represent the steps in a business process model.

Consider the human element

Since processes cannot be performed in isolation and require a human element, it’s essential to figure out what needs to be done, and by whom. The latter element can take some research – experience, skillset, and aptitude can all be determining factors that affect the efficiency of employees. The position may also require training, evaluation, and guidance – if that’s the case, you need to consider that as well.

Continuous feedback

Once you’ve got a system implemented, it’s important to ask the employees and respective parties for feedback. There may be some issues in the implementation and involved parties will always have valuable insights to share.

How To Improve Existing Business Processes?

Adopting strategies to improve support and management processes can produce huge payoffs in the long run by enabling optimal resource utilization. The benefits are many-fold: businesses can save up time otherwise spend on redundant tasks, improve cross-team collaboration, set clear and measurable goals to monitor progress, and create deeper connections with customers by focusing on customer experience.

Below are the steps to improve existing business processes:

Examine “as-is” processes

The first step to improvement is to assess the current situation. This can be done by business process mapping to visualize all parts of the greater whole and analyzing metrics to isolate problem areas.

Identify bottlenecks

As employees are directly involved in value generation, they usually have accurate insights regarding inefficiencies and bottlenecks in a particular process. Feedback from stakeholders like customers and executives can also be valuable when identifying problems.

One particular issue in smaller firms can be having to navigate between different platforms to do daily activities.

Technology-assisted solutions

Usually, time-consuming activities like data entry and supply chain management can be automated with the help of custom software and digital automation tools. When possible, integrated business process improvement tools can help save time and keep employees happy and productive.

Gradual adoption

Implementing drastic changes can be overwhelming to employees and you might also face resistance. So, it’s a good idea to gradually implement changes so the employees and customers are accustomed and can adapt accordingly.

Monitor and review periodically

Business process improvement can be intimidating and it can be daunting to implement drastic measures out of the bat. As business processes involve people, it’s essential to gather feedback regularly and make slight changes in strategy so processes can be made more efficient. It’s also a good idea to incorporate positive feedback into the mix by rewarding well-performing employees.

Conclusion

Well-designed business processes are crucial to the success of an organization. Without optimized process flows, there can be confusion among employees and customers, wasted resources, lack of standardization, poor communication, and decreased productivity.

Even in a small-sized business, there are many ongoing processes, including the HR process, marketing process, document process, digital asset process, sales process, and so on. In a way, how productive a business depends on how seamlessly these processes are integrated!

Business processes help diagnose bottlenecks and critical issues in business operations allowing activities to be optimized to maximize productivity and help the business adapt to market needs. A holistic approach to streamlining business processes can help improve efficiency in operational processes while simultaneously cutting down on repetitive tasks that may be consuming a significant portion of precious time and resources.

Let Jetdocs Streamline Your Processes

Jetdocs is an internal communication platform where teams can streamline their internal processes.

Warren Jenkins

Warren Jenkins

Expert Author

Warren is a process manager here at Jetdocs where he helps businesses to identify business processes that require optimization. With a data-driven approach to analyzing processes and identifying areas for improvement, such as reducing waste, increasing efficiency, and improving quality, warren has the experience required to form efficient business processes. Warren covers the topic relating to creating, optimizing and streamlining business processes in Jetdocs blog. Connect with Warren on Linkedin