Identifying core business processes
The first step toward customer satisfaction and
In today's business environment, organisations know that to be
competitive, they need to respond to change, especially as customer
expectations increase. Customers are more demanding, mobile and
informed than ever. Global and distributed organisations need
consistency in the quality and levels of service regardless of
where and how they conduct business.
It is extremely difficult to meet these challenges in a timely
manner if business IT processes are widely dispersed, silo-based
and inconsistent. Consistent core IT business processes, language
and data representation is essential to allow decision makers to
respond quickly to the changing market.
Defining and maintaining consistent IT business processes is a
lot easier said than done but critical if an organisation is to
survive in today's market. This article will define "core business"
processes and explain how to differentiate these processes from
their implementation. It will also review how to prioritise which
processes to investigate first.
Defining the core business processes
A "core" business process is defined as the minimum individual
tasks to be accomplished to provide a certain level of consistency
in output, without any consideration to hardware, software, people
resource or performance.
When a core process is implemented, anything can be added to
make the process more efficient, but nothing should be eliminated.
When the core business process states that certain tasks must be
performed in sequence, then it must be reflected in the
implementation. In the same manner, any specified steps associated
with a task must also be reflected within the implementation.
When asked, most organisations will claim that their core business
processes are documented. Yet, typically, it is not the core
business process that has been documented but the implementation of
that process within a particular system or function. In this
scenario, the documentation contains system or application process
models reflecting implementation details such as "enter username."
Most times, documentation of a core business process doesn't
reflect whether a user is identified by a username, badge number,
ID-card, or some other method of authentication, as long as the
organisation is satisfied with the accuracy of the documentation.
Identifying and authenticating a user is an implementation issue,
not a business process.
It's not easy to separate implementation from the core business
process. Just take one business process and see how readily you can
identify the major tasks involved without letting implementation
issues creep into the mix. And it only gets more difficult when
core business processes become more intricate and critical within
Using the right process methodology
The methodology and approach used to identify, derive, or create
core business processes will vary with an enterprise's size,
industry and culture.
There are several proven methodologies and supporting tools for
deriving and improving business IT processes (e.g. ITIL® and
Your first steps
- Investigate and remove hurdles relating to organisational
cultural issues, governance processes, and supporting
infrastructure up front
- Educate participants on what a core business process is, how it
will benefit their respective business area, and the chosen
methodology that will be used to derive these processes
- Don't try and do all of the critical business processes at
once. Suggest a phased approach with a sound transition
Once you've identified core business processes, it's important
to prioritise which ones to tackle first. A new business channel or
service is a good place to start, as business analysis and
requirements gathering have likely already been done, which should
provide a good jumping-off point for identifying core processes.
Next, tackle any business process areas featuring disparate results
between business units. Then, look at processes for which new
enabling technology is being considered. Rounding out the list are
those processes supported by different implementation and those
supported by more than one location or business.
It is import that all parties involved in executing the process
clearly understand that it is the process that should be empowered,
and should not be confused with the organisational function and
position performing it. For example the Service Desk working on a
major payroll incident, which requires immediate response and
resource from the development team.
Your core processes should be a living entity, it is therefore
essential to regularly review the performance of your process and
adjust as business demands change.
Its never to late to start
If enterprises are to remain competitive; they need to reduce
the complexities resulting from widely dispersed and often
disparate business processes. Establishing consistent empowered
core business processes is just one step toward meeting increasing
customer expectations in today's market.