It is often difficult to understand the differences between those two concepts: the organization on one hand and the business process on the other. But basically the business process is the result of the way that activities are organized - through the construction of a formal organization. The (business) process is focused on stock and flow of artifacts and the other (the organization) is centered around resources, like: employees (agents), systems and infrastructure.
A product is an example artifact and so are the parts that are required to produce a product. A document is also an artifact and even so the number of call received from clients could be interpreted as artifacts, because the number of calls define the volume of your business (process).
The process is dynamic, the organization is (more) static.
The way in which the artifacts are processed is an indication of the efficiency of your business process and of productivity. In the example above you might want to increase the capacity to receive calls from clients. To do this you need a telecom (phone) infrastructure that is able to handle massive inflow of calls but at the same time you need employees (agents) that are able to handle (answer) these calls. So, the enable a higher process flow you need to “reorganize” things.
For example by introducing an interactive voice response system you are able to replace certain activities that are previously done by agents to handle by such a system. This is an example were you change your organization to streamline your business process. In this case the current organization is extended by the introduction of a system that supports the business process of handling customer calls. We are all familiar with these system by which you are able to retrieve simple information or brochures without the interference of an call center agent.
Organizing in business is searching for a right balance between the specific dedication of resources on one hand and the change of artifacts and the subsequent change in the process on the other hand.
Again an example, one focused on the social security process. To be able to process more social security applications during the day you could invoke more employees dedicated to handle these requests. Another way is to change the artifact – in this case the application document or form. Many institutions have done this already – and replaced the seven-or-more copies of application forms to a single focused document. The introduction of internet in government services requires even more changes in this area. In the above example the application form is automatically your (temporary) social security pass. This has been made possible by digitizing the information that is distributed throughout the organization.
The bottom line is that in order to increase the efficiency of your business process you should always look at the artifacts that flow through your organization. Simplifying this flow means simplifying your business process.
© 2007 Hans Bool
Hans Bool is the founder of Astor White a traditional management consulting company that offers online management tools. Have a look at some of our free management tools