What Are Business Processes? (Definition and How to Write One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 16 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Business goals are objectives a company plans to achieve to improve its performance, and processes are the tools the company can use to achieve those goals. Activities, tasks, systems and individuals are all important components within processes to properly execute the steps. If you're a business leader or professional, learning more about processes in business can help you improve your knowledge and implement measures to meet company goals. In this article, we explain what business processes are, detail why they're important, provide the steps you can follow to write one, offer helpful tips for process writing and list business examples.

What are business processes?

Business processes are tasks and actions that lead to a specific outcome. They're present in all departments, from human resources to sales. A business's routine tasks, including accounting, manufacturing, selling, customer service and management, are products of a process.

Related: What Is Good Customer Service? Definition and Guideline

Why are operational processes important?

Operational processes are important because they allow companies to function. Companies often complete the same tasks repeatedly, like making sales, paying staff, hiring new people and introducing new products. Business processes make routine tasks and normal operational functions possible. Though processes exist naturally within the business environment, being specific and conscious about them allows business leaders to improve productivity and avoid errors. These are some benefits of writing and monitoring operational processes:

  • Reduces errors: Having a specific process for how teams and individuals complete tasks can help reduce mistakes and errors. If the company provides a specific set of steps for completing a process, it's more likely that a team member remembers the important stages.

  • Increases productivity: When being specific about the operational process, business leaders can eliminate unnecessary steps or find ways to make the process more efficient. This can increase productivity without requiring more input.

  • Enhances experience: Team members who benefit from specific operational processes may experience less stress related to decision-making. When it's clear what to do and how to complete a process, staff members can feel more supported.

Related: What Is Job Satisfaction? Factors, Benefits, How to Improve

How to write an operational process

These are some steps you can follow to write an operational process:

1. Identify company goals

The first step to creating effective processes is understanding the business's goals. This can help guide you when you're prioritising tasks and outcomes. For example, if a business's goal is to improve brand awareness and public perception, this can affect how you structure customer service, marketing and public relations processes.

Related: How to Achieve Goals in 8 Steps (With Common Benefits)

2. Create a structured plan

Once you understand the organisation's goals, outline the procedures your team can perform to achieve those targets. Consider the available resources and the team members' skills to help you define actionable tasks for the process. Focus on actions the team can perform repeatedly to help achieve the company's goals. Create a detailed outline to identify how each team member can contribute to the business process.

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3. Assign tasks

Depending on your team's size, you may assign tasks to an entire department or individual employees. Provide clear instructions to each employee or group to help them understand your expectations. It can be helpful to have a team meeting to discuss the new process so team members can ask questions and provide their input. Make sure everyone understands their tasks and knows their deadlines to complete them. For example, you may ask a team of customer service representatives to send out 10 customer satisfaction surveys each week.

Related: How to Establish Team Roles and Responsibilities

4. Test the process

Determine how you plan to test the process to ensure it works as expected. You may decide to have employees complete their assigned tasks or workflows for a specific period, such as one month. This strategy can help gauge their receptiveness and understanding of the new process. During this period, you can address their questions once they've completed their tasks and adjust the process if needed.

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5. Integrate the process

After testing the process, you can fully integrate it into your team's daily workflow. Try to implement the process into the day-to-day responsibilities of each team member. Continue to answer additional questions they may have and hold regular informal meetings to measure their progress. Make sure each team member feels well-informed about their new tasks, which can help increase their productivity.

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6. Measure its success

Determine which metrics you can track to measure the process's success. This depends on which department or team uses the process. For example, you may choose to track the success of the human resources department according to retention or team member engagement. You may track the sales department's success through new and repeat customers and total sales. Monitoring metrics for the team can help you determine if changes are necessary to improve the process's performance.

7. Make changes as needed

You may discover a segment of the process that underperforms when monitoring the metrics. For example, if the sales team is excellent at finding new customers but struggles to retain them, you may evaluate the process. To remedy this issue, you can consider implementing follow-up calls from the sales team. You can also adjust other processes. For example, you may modify the marketing process to include automatic follow-up or abandoned cart e-mails.

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Tips for writing an operational process

Here are some helpful tips for writing effective operational processes:

  • Consider using business software. Many business and management programs allow you to write, implement and track business processes. Using business software can make it simpler to keep all your information in one place.

  • Track metrics for processes. Consider tracking productivity and metrics specific to each department to determine how processes impact effectiveness. For example, you may track retention as a metric to understand how the human resources process performs.

  • Gather feedback from team members. Asking staff for their feedback about processes can help ensure that they understand what's required. Something may sound straightforward when you include it in the plan, but may become more complicated in practice, and team members can provide valuable feedback about this.

Related: How to Give 360 Feedback to Your Boss (Steps and Benefits)

Examples of business processes

Each department and team within the company can have a unique process for completing tasks and projects. These are some examples of company processes:

Hiring process

Hiring new employees for an organisation is an example of a business process. A hiring team or human resources department may take the following steps in this process:

  1. Post the job description through various channels.

  2. Evaluate candidates to identify the top choices based on their qualifications.

  3. Contact selected candidates to arrange interviews.

  4. Interview candidates and select one for the position.

  5. Send a job offer for the candidate to accept.

Related: Interview Question: 'When Have You Improved a Process?'

Delivery management

Delivery management is a business process that involves shipping or transferring products to customers or other companies. This process may involve the following steps:

  1. Receive and accept the customer's order.

  2. Retrieve the product and package it properly.

  3. Ship the product and send an invoice to the customer.

  4. Track the order from dispatch to delivery.

  5. Ensure the customer receives the order.

  6. Measure customer satisfaction by sending a survey.

Customer complaints

Many businesses have processes to manage and resolve customer complaints to provide excellent service. This type of process may have these steps:

  1. Use customer relationship management (CRM) software to receive customer complaints.

  2. Contact the customer to acknowledge their concern and get more information on the issue.

  3. Determine an appropriate solution based on the customer service plan.

  4. Communicate the solution to the customer to ensure they're satisfied with the resolution.

  5. Document the resolution through the CRM software.

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