Who Cares what a Process is?

Process is a series of related activities aimed at achieving a set of objectives in a measurable, usually repeatable manner. It has defined information inputs and outputs, consumes resources and is subjected to management controls over time, cost and quality.

Processes are the basic building blocks of business. Companies make millions of dollars from creating processes to create particular goods or services. Automobile manufacturers have well defined processes for designing, manufacturing, and marketing automobiles. Those with the best processes sell the most cars and make the most profits.

Fast food restaurants have processes for ensuring that their products look and taste the same regardless of where they are located and that they can be served profitably at very low prices. The consistent experience regardless of location, as well as efficient cost structures are huge sources of profitability for chain restaurants.

IT customers and end-users deserve the same level of consistency and low cost in the services they receive from IT. Process is the mechanism that delivers consistency of service at consistently low costs.

Software applications are critical components in modern business processes. Most businesses could not compete without software applications to automate the routine activities of the business. However, many IT managers confuse software applications with processes. Because software automates many of the process activities, it becomes very easy to think that simply installing the right software application will solve all the problems. Often this approach only compounds or shifts the problems, automating some activities, highlighting or magnifying problems in other activities or in process inputs.

It is important for IT managers to realize that technology is only one link in the process chain. To stay competitive, IT managers must begin to help businesses examine the entire process for creating value for the business and to ensure that the use of technology actually results in increased business value.

Building excellent technology will earn you great praise as a technologist. If that is enough for you, if you are satisfied with just being a great technologist, then feel free to ignore the concept of processes. If, however, you want to be a recognized business value contributor, if you want to be a go-to person for business leaders, then you need to focus on the processes around technology that create value for the business.

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