In process management, the business process is a process that serves to fulfill the company’s goals in companies by working on existing business areas and developing new ones. This definition arises from the point of view of process management. In general, business processes are aligned with operational functions, with the interfaces between procurement, production, financing, administration and sales being of particular interest. From an organizational point of view, it is to be understood as a repetitive process chain that contributes to the production and marketing of a product or service. This also requires procurement, work, leadership, management, production and sales processes.
In general, the business process can be characterized as a set of logically linked individual activities (tasks, workflows) that are carried out to achieve a specific business or operational goal. It is triggered by a defined event and transforms ‘input’ into an ‘output’ through the use of tangible and intangible goods and taking into account certain rules and internal and external factors.
A business process can be encapsulated and part of another business process and/or contain or trigger other business processes. Business processes often transcend departmental and operational boundaries and are part of the process organization of a company.
Many definitions of business processes require the existence of exactly one beginning and one end, as well as precisely defined inputs and outputs of the process and its sub-processes. Input and output can be information, objects, events and/or states, respectively. The process system strives for a value-added process that should be permanently optimized in terms of resource consumption, throughput times and quality. Ideally, the output achieved for the respective company represents a higher value than the input originally used.
Business process modeling is used to determine information such as triggers, executors, inputs, outcome(s) and document the process flow – especially if the execution of business processes is to be supported by automated workflow management. Business processes or business processes exist in all parts of the company, be it in sales, production or controlling. Examples include order processing, a bank’s lending process, or the training of students at a university.
Administrative and logistical processes in a company (e.g. recruitment, accounting or incoming goods inspection) can be described relatively easily as a business process. Due to their high frequency, this also applies mostly to core processes (such as placing orders). If one takes a closer look at the order placement process mentioned as an example, areas emerge from a certain level of detail in which an exact description of the activities is not possible. This is also and especially the case with creative value creation processes, as they prevail in product development. In these cases, it is often not possible to model business processes with clear specifications regarding activities and their sequence. Rather, the participants will determine and carry out the necessary activities in a self-organizing manner on the basis of their own experience and problem-solving skills – if necessary as a project.
This determines whether a business process can be modeled well or only incompletely. This depends, among other things, on the “degree of networking” (measure of the number of networked activities or actors) and “variability of networking” (temporal stability of the process description). Business processes have a high degree of networking and a high degree of changeability of networking if they are cyclical, iterative, highly dynamic, self-organizing, emergent and evolutionary (for example, case processing by a lawyer). They thus elude the possibilities of normal business process modeling and implementation by means of workflow management.