Business Processes

This chapter looks at one way information systems can bring competitive advantage through their effect on business processes. As you read, think about the previous chapter on competitive advantage. How are the two concepts related?

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. 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). 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. In the context of information systems, a business process is a set of business activities performed by human actors and/or the information system to accomplish a specific outcome.