Business Process Design: Three Main Types

4 Min Read
Business Process Design: Three Main Types

Business Process Design (BPD) is creating or developing a process or workflow for a business completely from scratch.  

A process or workflow is, by definition, a sequence of repeated steps that an individual, or a team, must take on in order for the business to operate, achieve goals, and maintain a level of productivity. They are a crucial part of the business setup – and are the building blocks to an efficiently-run and productive business. 

If you’re unlucky enough that your processes don’t work the first time, then there’s a good chance that you’ll be redesigning them. So, take your time to ensure that each one adds the value you require to your business – whether this is a direct or indirect value.  

Once you’ve created your separate processes, the next step is to organise these procedures into a coherent manner – and this can be tricky, especially when seemingly-simple businesses implement a number of processes. 

However, in this article, we will talk through the first step of business process design – categorising your processes into their types – which makes the whole process (of creating the processes) much easier.

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Business Process Design – Three Types of Business Processes

Business process design should structure business processes into three types according to Mark Von Rosing of The Complete Business Process Handbook: Body of Knowledge from Process Modeling to BPM.

  • Operational process
  • Supporting process
  • Management process

Operational Process – Primary Processes

To find your operational processes, ask yourself, ‘how does, or will, your business generate income?’ It is the procedures and tasks that play a direct role in the production of outputs – from the inputs – that are the operational processes. 

Inputs include things like: labour, raw equipment, and money. Outputs include the final product or service, and the resulting level of customer satisfaction. 

In general, if your process falls into one of the below categories, it can be classed operational, or as they are sometimes affectionately called, a part of ‘the value chain.’ 

  • The development or creation of the final product or service
  • The marketing of the above product or service
  • The customer service and support you offer – even after the sale

For example, let’s say you are a local greengrocer who delivers vegetables to your community. The tasks involved – buying in the produce from the supplier, packing into boxes, and delivering the goods to your customers – all of these are operational processes. 

It’s also worth noting that there can be sub-processes too, such as storage. This might seem like it’s not an operational process, but it is, as it is linked directly to your end product. 

Making sure your operational processes work together efficiently as possible should be a strategic priority.

Supporting Processes – Secondary Processes

These are the cogs in the engine room. The things that work away behind the scenes to ensure the ship can keep on sailing – that’s the supporting processes. This means they don’t generate income themselves but are there to serve the internal body of staff across the organisation.  

They bring value – just not in the way of money. 

For example, the payroll department doesn’t necessarily make you money – but without them, your employees wouldn’t be paid. And the same for a cleaner, or someone who washes dishes, they may not bring in money with their role – but without them, you would certainly notice!

These are the processes that make it possible for the operational processes to be carried out effectively, and are either, or both: strategically important, and necessary. 

Management Processes

This is where the coordination of the above processes takes place. This involves the planning, monitoring and general oversee. 

This means ensuring that the team is meeting targets, that the workplace is compliant and safe, and that concerns of employees are dealt with – among other managerial duties. It also means identifying potential threats or opportunities for your business too – perhaps seeing talent in one of your staff members, and recommending them for some training, or a new client that would result in a good deal for your business. 

Although like supporting processes, management doesn’t necessarily generate direct income, they exist to optimise income opportunities and adapt the business when necessary.  

Strong management processes are the key to resilience within a business.

What next?

Then, of course, comes the more complex task of intertwining all of your processes to ensure that they are coherent and will result in productivity. There are a number of ways that you can do this: 

Pen & Paper – Simple, yet always effective (and gives the eyes a break from the computer screen!) – grab a pen and paper and map your processes on a flowchart. Make sure to use a pencil the first time, and check out how to create business process mapping

Flowchart Software – This may be the easiest option with many people working from home, or remotely from all parts of the UK (and maybe even the world!). This also means there is no chance of forgetting where you put the paper! 

This will result in your Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

The final result of business process design BPD is, SOP! Standard Operating Procedures are the end goal, and these are the reference guides that are used by staff to ensure that they can work independently on tasks, and know what they are doing at each step. 

It can all become a little confusing with all the different definitions, but essentially think of it as a business process. The input is the Business Process Design, and outcomes of your SOP. You can find out more about Standard Operating Procedures by reading this article.  

Now you’ve had a read of how you can categorise your business processes, it’s worth having a look at business process management in more detail, which is how your monitor the efficiency of your processes, a necessary step to ensuring continuous improvement

Business process design

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