Business process

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Structure of (business) processes

The business process (abbreviation: GP ) is in process management a process that serves the fulfillment of corporate goals in companies by working on existing business fields and developing new ones .


This definition arises from the perspective of process management. In general, business processes are geared towards operational functions , with the interfaces between procurement , production , financing , administration and sales being of particular interest. From an organizational point of view, it is to be understood as a repetitive process chain that contributes to the production and marketing of a product or service . This also requires work and production processes.

In general, the business process can be characterized as a set of logically linked individual activities ( tasks , workflows ) that are carried out in order to achieve a specific business or operational goal. It is triggered by a defined event and transforms 'input' into an 'output' through the use of material and immaterial goods and in compliance with certain rules and internal and external company factors.

A business process can be encapsulated and part of another business process and / or contain or initiate other business processes. Business processes often go beyond departmental and company boundaries and are part of the operational organization of a company .

Many definitions of business processes require the existence of exactly one beginning and exactly one end, as well as precisely defined inputs and outputs of the process and its sub-processes. Input and output (inputs / results) can each be information, objects, events and / or states. The process system strives for a value-added process that should be permanently optimized with regard to resource consumption , lead times and quality. Ideally, the output achieved represents a higher value for the respective company than the input originally used.

Definition of terms

In common parlance and colloquial language, the term process (also business process) is used for two different levels:

as a type term (process model)
The business process is defined, modeled, documented, etc. at this level. Responsible: Process management in connection with business process modeling . The definition corresponds to this meaning: "A process depicts the flow and transformation of materials, information, operations and decisions."
as an instance term (process instance)
The actual execution of the business process as often as required during ongoing business operations. This “happening” is individually determined at least via the dimensions of time (e.g. date, time, from-to) and participants (e.g. customer, employee, device ...). Any event, even if it is not modeled, is a “process” in the second sense.

Example: The process "Paying out cash at the ATM " is defined and modeled once (as a type), but is executed repeatedly (as an instance) in daily operations.


For a long time business administration dealt exclusively with the design of the organizational structure . This led to an alienation from the customer as well as a lack of flexibility and clout in the market and the associated competitive disadvantages . That is why there was a focus on quality in the company , so that process orientation became more important. The first work on this topic was published in 1932 by Fritz Nordsieck , in 1960 by Erich Kosiol, and in the 1980s by Michael Gaitanides and August-Wilhelm Scheer . Adam Smith laid the basis for the models designed here as early as 1776 with the book Der Wohlstand der Nations (English original title ( English An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations ).

In the following quote, Fritz Nordsieck points out the need for a process-oriented company structure: “In reality, operations are an ongoing process, an uninterrupted chain of services . In any case, a clear process structure is to be aimed for. ”( Nordsieck : 1932). Nordsieck does not yet establish a process-oriented concept, but at least forms the conceptual basis, because he recognizes an abstract operating process as the basis for structuring the organizational structure.

Standardization / modeling

The methods for applying and managing business processes are known as process management .

Through business process modeling, information such as trigger, executor, input, result (s) ('output') is determined and the process flow is documented - especially if the execution of business processes is to be supported by automated workflow management . Business processes or business processes exist in all parts of the company, be it in sales, production or controlling . Examples are the order processing, the lending process of a bank or the education of students in a university.

Administrative and logistical processes in a company (e.g. hiring , bookkeeping or incoming goods inspection ) can be described relatively easily as a business process. Due to their high frequency, this also mostly applies to core processes (such as the placing of orders ). If you take a closer look at the order placement process mentioned as an example, areas emerge from a certain level of detail in which an exact description of the activities is not possible. This is also and especially the case with creative value creation processes, such as those that predominate in product development. A business process modeling with clear guidelines regarding. The activities and their sequence is not in these cases often possible. Rather, the participants will determine and carry out the necessary activities in a self-organizing manner based on their own experience and problem - solving skills - possibly as a project .

This shows whether a business process can be modeled well or only incompletely. This depends u. a. on the "degree of networking" (measure of the number of networked activities or actors) and "variability of networking" (temporal stability of the process description). Business processes have a high degree of networking and a high degree of variability in networking if they are cyclical, iterative, highly dynamic, self-organizing , emergent and evolutionary (for example case processing by a lawyer). You thus escape the possibilities of normal business process modeling and implementation using workflow management .

Process categories

Processes can be typified / categorized according to different criteria, e.g. B .:

  • According to their term :
  • According to their frequency of repetition and determination :
    • Routine processes (high frequency of repetition and high degree of determination),
    • Control processes (mean frequency of repetition and degree of determination),
    • Ad hoc processes (low repetition frequency and determination)
  • According to their operational position / importance:
In these categories, processes are often related to one another as a precursor / successor ( value chain ). The distinction between
  • According to process clusters (similar to the distinction made in the St. Gallen management model ):
  • According to their hierarchical structure: Depending on the language used in organizations, processes are e.g. B. as
    • Top process (business process, main process, etc.) or as
    • Sub-process (sub-process, elementary process, etc.).
  • According to the degree of their automation:
    • fully automated (e.g. by IT),
    • supported by IT,
    • completely manual

See also


  • Guido Fischermanns: Practical Guide to Process Management . 11th edition. Giessen 2013, ISBN 978-3-921313-89-3 .
  • Michael Gaitanides : Process Organization. Development, approaches and programs of process-oriented organizational design . Vahlen, Munich 1983, ISBN 3-8006-0991-6
  • Michael Hammer, James Champy: Business Reengineering . Campus, Frankfurt / New York 1995, ISBN 3-593-35017-3
  • Peter Heisig: Integration of knowledge management in business processes . Dissertation. Technische Universität Berlin, 2005, ISBN 3-00-017244-0
  • Erich Kosiol: Organization of the company . Gabler, Wiesbaden 1962, ISBN 3-409-88451-3
  • Fritz Nordsieck: The graphical recording and examination of the company organization . CE Poeschel, Stuttgart 1932
  • Hermann J. Schmelzer, Wolfgang Stuhlmann: Business process management in practice . 9th edition. Hanser, Munich 2020, ISBN 978-3-446-44625-0

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Siegfried G. Häberle (ed.), Das neue Lexikon der Betriebswirtschaftslehre , 2008, p. 486 f.
  2. ^ Siegfried G. Häberle (ed.), Das neue Lexikon der Betriebswirtschaftslehre , 2008, p. 486 f.
  3. Axel C. Schwickert / Kim Fischer: The business process as a formal process - definition, properties, types. (P. 10 f.). Working papers WI, 04/1996, professorship for business administration with a focus on business informatics at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen
  4. a b Margit Osterloh / Jetta Frost : Process management as a core competence - How you can use business reengineering strategically , 2nd edition, Wiesbaden, 1998, ISBN 3-409-23788-7 , p. 31
  5. Christoph Spelten: Designing the order processing processes. In: REFA - Association for Work Studies and Business Organization eV (Hrsg.): Agreeing on success - leading with target agreements , Munich, 1995, p. 157
  6. Reinhard Schmitt / Mathias Zagel, 2009: Business Processes of the 4th Kind Whitepaper ( Memento of the original of July 31, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. Guido Fischermanns: It depends on the type of process. In:
  8. Guido Fischermanns: Practical Handbook Process Management . 10th edition. Giessen 2012, ISBN 978-3-921313-86-2 . P. 99ff.