How are Business Process and Workflow Related?

We hear a lot about these terms, and sometimes they are wrongfully used interchangeably. In this post on business process vs workflow, we want to talk about what is a business process and a workflow? And, are they the same thing, or are there any differences between them?

What’s a Business Process?

A business process is a series of steps that are performed by a group of people in organizations to achieve an organizational goal.

Each step of the process requires a participant’s actions. The sequence of the steps determines the order of the actions, and participants may belong to the same different department or functional groups. Therefore, a process can cross organizational boundaries to accomplish a specific set of actions.

Completion of a process does not necessarily mean it achieved its goal; it is possible for any process that for many reasons it cannot achieve the intended organizational goal. A business process can reach a point of cancellation, termination, exception and etc., and also it is possible the routing and sequence of actions are changed based on different circumstances. These circumstances can be based on internal or external factors depending on the business process.

Each business process requires at least 3 angles:

business process vs workflow

In organizations, a business process allows individuals to participate in the right order, at the right time using the right resources, and collectively achieve an organizational goal.

So clearly there is a need for organizations to map out how they do things, and how and when different groups and functions interact. And when do individuals need to take action at any point?

To map out the business processes, there are many tools and approaches. But also, there is a standard called BPMN 2.0 that enables modeling business processes. BPMN stands for Business Process Model and Notation that provides guidelines and best practices on how to model (map out) any business process in an organization.

What is a Workflow?

Based on what we explained, not all business processes can be automated by their nature. And when we say automated, we mean digitized.

A Workflow is a part or entire of a business process that is fully, or partially automated (i.e. digitized).

In some instances, although business processes cannot be fully digitized, there are opportunities that are a part of the business process that can be taken and digitized.

Digitizing a business process provides unique opportunities for organizations to work efficiently. It enables organizations to implement straight-through processing, extract decisions within the processes and manage them separately for a higher level of efficiencies and guarantee of consistency.

And automating the business process i.e. modeling and executing a workflow does not end by just digitizing the process itself, we can use technologies such as Process Robotics Automation or RPA to automate the actual tasks and activities that individuals needed to do. Which decreases the error rate and improves and overall staffs’ productivities and availabilities.

And the highest level of efficiency can be introduced by using technologies such as decision robotics integrated into workflows so not only automates the individual tasks but also, enables computes to take business decisions on behalf of humans based on data and rules and eliminates human biases and noises across all decisions need to make in business processes.

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Workflow and Business Process in a Nutshell

Business processes and workflows are not interchangeable. Any business process can be modeled (i.e. mapped out) but can't be digitized entirely. In the question of business process vs workflow, when a part of a business process is digitized or even entirely digitized, we refer to them as a workflow. A workflow automatically engages different participants to be involved as they are required to take action on a specific task.  A workflow can be optimized and become more efficient and consistently produces the required quality results when it is integrated with more advanced automation technologies such as decision robotics and decision automation platform.

Last updated November 3rd, 2021 at 12:16 pm, Published October 1st, 2021 at 12:16 pm