What defines a business process?

May 10, 2018

It can be easy to confuse process management and project management. Some of this confusion stems from a lack of understanding about how to define “project” and “process” as concepts. Once the two are defined, it becomes easier to understand their similarities, differences, and relationship to one another. From here, business management best practices can be more clearly defined and applied to the way you work and conduct business.

Back to basics: What is a project?

According to the Project Management Institute, a project is “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result.” By breaking down this definition, we can determine that projects are:

  • Temporary and time-bound.
  • Defined by clear beginning and end dates. Whether that length of time is days or years, the project will definitely end someday.
  • Executed in a cycle of initiation, definition, planning, execution, and closing.

Projects are not a routine operation but a set of operations designed to accomplish a specific goal.

What is a business process?

Understanding what a project is can help us understand what a process is. It can be set apart from a project in a few unique ways. Processes are:

  • Driven by customer needs.
  • Repeatable actions and procedures.
  • Always in progress, with no defined end to them.

While projects are managed, processes differ because they are continuously analyzed for chances to improve results and efficiency.

What is business process management?

Process management for business can be defined as aligning processes to meet goals and establish measurement systems that will provide accurate evaluations. What is process management? To explain in simple terms, it is the act of overseeing how operations are carried out to achieve the organization’s goals. The process management approach of a business can include its workflow systems, business language, and automation efforts. Process management encompasses a set of activities that transforms materials or information and produces an output. A process management description shouldn’t fail to mention that the output has value to customers or to other stakeholders.

Every process management approach should include five key components:

  1. Modeling: The modeling stage is the planning portion of the process that involves “what if” analysis and theoretical design.
  2. Execution: In this stage, the process model is enacted either manually or automatically.
  3. Monitoring: During monitoring, each individual process is tracked so that information can be seen easily and statistics quickly provided. The information collected can be used to improve efficiency and output.
  4. Optimization: This is the act of using the data collected during the monitoring stage to create cost savings and other enhancements and improvements.
  5. Re-optimization: If a process isn’t performing the way you’d planned and optimization measures have not improved it, you may need to re-engineer the entire process.

What is project management?

Project management can be described as applying processes, skills, or knowledge to achieve a specific objective. This temporary endeavor has specific goals in mind, and it’s essential to define why a project is necessary as well as the requirements and the specifics of the end goal. Project management is the process of creating a roadmap to success and making sure that plan is followed, with objectives tracked and measured along the way.

Project management has a life cycle that can be broken down into five stages:

  1. Initiation: The project’s value and feasibility are measured during the first life cycle stage. To do so, project managers use a feasibility study and business case document. If the project is justifiable after using these tools, it moves into the next life cycle stages.
  2. Planning: At this stage, the project has the green light and a plan is created to guide the team and keep the project within budget. Well-written plans include financing and ways to acquire needed materials. The plan should delegate tasks and include possible obstacles that may occur.
  3. Executing: This stage is the one that produces deliverables that will satisfy the customer or organization needs. Resources are allocated to keep the team focused on their assigned tasks.
  4. Monitoring and Controlling: Monitoring and controlling usually occur alongside execution. This is so the team can make sure they are on task and adhering to the plan laid out. Monitoring helps projects to be completed on time and within the approved budget.
  5. Closing: At this stage, the final product is delivered and performance indicators are measured. It’s important to evaluate the project in order to inform the next endeavor.

Project management knowledge is based on ten areas:

  • Integration
  • Cost
  • Scope
  • Time
  • Quality
  • Cost
  • Procurement
  • Risk management
  • Stakeholder management
  • Human resources

Project management vs. process management

The benefits and setbacks of each concept can guide you in following project management and process management best practices.

Project management
  • Goal: Transparency
  • Benefits: Create a roadmap that will accompany a project to completion with defined and measurable goals; Analyze risks to increase quality and quantity; Identify ways for the team to grow and perform more efficiently
  • Potential challenges: Miscalculation leads to a late completion of a project; Project management is considered “overhead” time; Some team or organization members have difficulty seeing the value in project management
Process management
  • Goal: Efficiency
  • Benefits: Identify areas where efficiency can be increased; Simulate a process and its benefits from start to output; Use the life cycle to improve the project output
  • Potential challenges: The process halts due to human error; Duplicate work due to inefficient processes; Communication gaps can cause malfunctions

The relationship between project management and process management

It’s clear that project management and process management are two distinct concepts with different goals and methods of operation. It’s important to remember that there is a relationship between project management and process management. Business operations need to draw on both skill sets to ensure success. The relationship between process management and project management is symbiotic. Processes determine micro-processes, which lead to the workflow of project management. Understanding the similarities and differences will maximize success and allow you to follow project and process management best practices.

Whether your organization is brand new or well-seasoned, there should be a constant focus on efficient and transparent processes. When considering the two subjects, organizations should think of how to apply both to their daily operations rather than focusing on one or the other.

Advantages of low-code software for business processes and project management

Organizations everywhere search for the most convenient, personalized, and affordable way to accomplish process and project management. With Quickbase’s low-code platform, members of your team can implement personalized software applications designed to meet the specific needs of your business processes.

With the power of customization at your fingertips, you can make your systems work for you rather than the other way around. Our cloud-based platform has flexible design features, and you can access it on the go. Without coding, it’s possible to design your own project management app without the aid of IT developers. You’ll be able to create tasks, monitor time and budget spent, and manage documents in whatever way makes sense for your budget. Features can be customized with a simple point-and-click interface. Using this method, you’ll be able to set up fields, dashboards, tables, forms, and more. Quickbase makes it easy to develop the process or project management app that best fulfills your needs.

One of the major benefits to using Quickbase is the ability to track data and manage a team in real time. This will allow you to track progress via your app and schedule fewer meetings while still maintaining a high level of communication. The team will be able to share data easily, leading to more informed decisions. You can set up automatic notifications and track project milestones all with just a few clicks.

Once you’ve met with your team to introduce them to the technology, you’ll find that custom process and project management applications built using our low-code platform can save both time and money.

Benefits of automated processes

Automating business processes by using an app can have several important benefits for businesses.

  • Greater efficiency: When users can automate risk mitigation, compliance, governance, and optimization, they can reallocate their efforts to other areas.
  • Deconstruct processes: Using an application, an automated process can analyze every step of the way to make it easier to monitor the process and identify problematic areas in need of optimization.
  • More team involvement: The use of low-code applications makes for a more accessible system that more team members can contribute to. When more team members can be involved with the development process, the app is far more likely to meet the needs of the whole team.

Start a free trial of Quickbase today and you’ll be able to see the benefits of automating processes for yourself. Experience processes and projects managed to your specifications with our platform. Join the low-code revolution and discover why organizations around the world trust Quickbase to help them to work better and smarter!

Try Quickbase today.