What Is a Business Process?
What Is a Business Process?
We have all heard the term process before, but what exactly does it mean? A process is a series of tasks that are completed in order to accomplish a goal. A business process, therefore, is a process that is focused on achieving a goal for a business. If you have worked in a business setting, you have participated in a business process. Anything from a simple process for making a sandwich at Subway to building a space shuttle utilizes one or more business processes.
Processes are something that businesses go through every day in order to accomplish their mission. The better their processes, the more effective the business. Some businesses see their processes as a strategy for achieving competitive advantage. A process that achieves its goal in a unique way can set a company apart. A process that eliminates costs can allow a company to lower its prices (or retain more profit).
Documenting a Process
Every day, each of us will conduct many processes without even thinking about them: getting ready for work, using an ATM, reading our e-mail, etc. But as processes grow more complex, they need to be documented. For businesses, it is essential to do this, because it allows them to ensure control over how activities are undertaken in their organization. It also allows for standardization: McDonald’s has the same process for building a Big Mac in all of its restaurants.
Managing Business Process Documentation
As organizations begin to document their processes, it becomes an administrative task to keep track of them. As processes change and improve, it is important to know which processes are the most recent. It is also important to manage the process so that it can be easily updated! The requirement to manage process documentation has been one of the driving forces behind the creation of the document management system.
A document management system stores and tracks documents and supports the following functions:
• Versions and timestamps. The document management system will keep multiple versions of documents. The most recent version of a document is easy to identify and will be served up by default.
• Approvals and workflows. When a process needs to be changed, the system will manage both access to the documents for editing and the routing of the document for approvals.
• Communication. When a process changes, those who implement the process need to be made aware of the changes. A document management system will notify the appropriate people when a change to a document is approved.
Of course, document management systems are not only used for managing business process documentation. Many other types of documents are managed in these systems, such as legal documents or design documents.