All methods of management, either Quality Management, Organization management or engineering management, use extensively the concept of Business Process. In accordance, a lot of companies have spent efforts building Business Process Maps, in most cases, redondant. Why ?
A Business Process is a set of correlated or interactive activities which transforms inputs into outputs (ISO 9000). A BP is a sequence of activities which, from one or several inputs produced an output representing a value for a customer (Hammer and Champy). You may notice that I stop there since authors in management are numerous.
Applying these definitions, we may agree that most companies calls business process what is, in fact, their business activities: design, production, marketing, logistics, support,… Generally, for these companies, a strategic activity is under the responsibility of a cost center or a profit center. Finally, the BP mapping reinforces silos organization : each strategic activity is divided itself into real activities – for example logistics is made of planning, loading, transport, delivery -.
Some may argue that this breakdown is in accordance with ISO process definition. Nevertheless, one can observe that ISO global model requires to consider the Customer point of view. It gives preference to customer value management through a business process.
In addition, it is necessary to include in the landscape the concept of value chain set in 1981 by Michael Porter who was one of the founder fathers of process oriented management : “Every firm is a collection of activities that are performed to design, produce, market, deliver, and support its product. All these activities can be represented using a value chain…. A firm’s value chain and the way it performs individual activities are a reflection of its history, its strategy, its approach to implementing its strategy, and the underlying economics of the activities themselves”. Value chains are strategic analysis concepts while Business processes are adressing organization. Since Business Processes produced value, value chains may be defined as classes of them.
Nevertheless, identification of Business Processes as silos does not promote activities interoperability, while it is a critical factor of value creation identified by M. Porter. These types of BP carry on poor changes, weak impact on value, and affect the effectiveness of management methods process oriented.
How the cost or the production performance of a given good may be analyzed ?
How the quality of good or service may be controled along the value chain ?
How an optimal Information System, aligned on company strategy may be implemented ?
How such information system would not require a reegineering when company will be reorganized in a real process orientation way ?
Enterprise architecture must deal with this point and must try to couple loosely system functions and Business processes, in other words, must find a way to allow easier reconfigurations.