Business Process vs. Business Function (+ Examples)


This is about business process vs. business function.

You’ll learn:

  • What a business process is
  • What a business functions is
  • The differences between a businss process and a business function
  • Lots more

So if you want to learn this essential part of the 101 of business processes, then this article is for you.

It’s time for the first step!

What Is the Difference Between a Business Process and a Business Function?

You might got in touch with the topic of business processes as an employee, run a business, even own a business.

But can you explain the nuances between a business process and a business function?

Plenty of professionals can’t.

After all, you wouldn’t expect jargon to matter much in terms of day-to-day business.

But the truth is that the distinction between business process vs. business function is essential.

The difference can impact how you run your business and how effectively it operates.

What is a Business Process?

A business process is a chain of steps that lead to a far-reaching business goal.

You might say that a business process is a means to an end, although, in terms of business process management (BPM), there’s never a real “end.”

With BPM, business processes are the highlight, and an in-depth discussion of BPM and how it helps organizations is also relevant to the process versus function question.

Learn exactly what a business process is in this definitive guide to business process.

What is a Business Function?

You probably know what a function is already, but things can become convoluted in terms of business.

So, let’s break it down.

A business function, by definition, is an operation or process a person or organization carries out.

The process or operation aims to support the company’s mission, contributing to a larger goal.

Sounds a lot like a business process, right?

There are indeed similarities between the two, and they’re often lumped together when discussing BPM.

But today, you’ll learn exactly how the concepts are alike and how they differ.

Similarities: Business Process vs. Business Function

There are similarities between business processes and business functions.

But would you believe people use the terms interchangeably?

After reading what comes next, you might feel baffled.

As far as similarities, you could say that processes and functions have the same far-reaching goal: to ensure a profitable and successful business.

But beyond that, they’re vastly different.

Tons of other actions and topics could be lumped into the “best for business” category, like system processes and time management tools and employee morale.

You can say that business processes and functions both contribute, but that’s the extent of their similarities.

Breaking Down the Differences: Business Process vs. Business Function

A process can be a function, and a function can be part of a process.

So, how can we clarify what’s different between the two?

Here are the distinct differences between the concepts.

Business Processes All Come Together

Business processes are more or less a package deal.

You can have a collection of processes that affect how the business runs each day, sure.

But overall, you have your set system to go by, and the idea is that you need to follow specific processes to meet an end goal. 

For a lot of businesses, the “end goal” is a perpetually changing one.

You might want to increase profitability or directly boost sales, but those efforts take time.

Hence, a process to keep it all moving smoothly in the right direction.

Business Functions Are Diverse (And Not Always Connected)

Unlike business processes, business functions involve day-to-day job duties and departments.

As Bizfluent explains, business functions are the things you do.

They’re operations-oriented, though even you could technically call them “processes.”

To make it clearer:

Functions are what cover the ins and outs of your business in terms of structure rather than orders and steps.

People perform functions – things like selling, providing customer service, stocking, organizing, and more.

Mostly, functions are verbs: the “doing” part of your business model.

They’re vital, of course, but they’re not the only business element you need to concentrate on. 

You can think of functions like departments in your company.

You could have sales, HR, customer service, accounting, and more.

Each one serves a specific purpose, and they don’t always work side-by-side.

Business Functions Involve Two Types

Business processes typically string together to create a guideline or path toward pre-set goals.

Business functions, however, can build on one another but also stand separately.

Overall, business functions can be categorized into two areas: core and support.

In terms of business process vs. business function, the two types of business functions are more diverse and seemingly disconnected.

For example, you have core business functions that focus on the transactional element of your business model.

If you sell a product, for example, then the actual sale of an item is your core function. If you offer a service, delivering said service is the core business function.

But for the core functions to be successful, you also need support functions.

Support functions include elements like human resources (to support your employees) and accounting (to support your need to pay taxes).

Business Processes Are Manageable

When it comes to business process management, there are tons of resources for implementing valuable change in your company structure.

But business function management? That’s not even a thing.

When you establish business processes, whether as part of a company overhaul or just to solidify organizational habits, you can manage different aspects of them.

A person or team will orchestrate the development of company-wide processes.

Then, it’s a matter of disseminating the right information to everyone involved.

Leaders also need to distill their teams’ input while managing the processes and changes.

You can find software, training, and supplementary methodologies to support business process management.

Business functions, however, are a different beast.

Business Functions Are Set in Stone

While business processes can be managed, updated, modeled, analyzed, and innovated, business functions are what they are.

Sure, you can aim to increase profitability by selling more products.

Yes, you can offer an on-site employee dining room to trim down commute time, thus increasing productivity.

But none of these things are business processes. They’re part of the function of your organization.

Selling more products isn’t a business process. It’s part of someone’s job description.

And purely doing a job, even if you do it well, doesn’t constitute business process management.

Everyday business functions won’t change, even if you implement BPM. You might change up workers’ responsibilities – and that’s still function-related.

Most everyone in an organization will be affected by BPM, but functions are still functions no matter how you spin it.  

Business Processes Are Shaping the Organization

Implementing specific business processes has the potential to shape your organization.

In fact, most companies say they’ve optimized their business models thanks to processes.

Maintaining an end-to-end view of the change you want to enact allows you to keep sight of that final goal.

Everything is connected, so it’s your job to make sure those connections work the way you want them to.

Analyzing, modeling, interpreting, and making adjustments to your processes shapes your organization now, but also poises it for success in the future.

Implementation of tools, including automation, can also make a difference in how forward-thinking your organization becomes.

Automation can also impact profitability, but only if you’re automating valuable processes.

Business Functions Are People Doing Their Jobs

While people doing their jobs shape a company’s culture, it doesn’t necessarily inspire significant change. 

But the essence of business function is that it’s running – but perhaps not always well.

If you’re opening and closing your storefront every day, that’s a business function.

Even if sales are low or workers are underperforming, the function is still happening. As long as a job is being done, the function is functional. 

That doesn’t sound good, does it?

This is one of the distinctions that make the differences between business process vs. business function so clear.

Business Process is Organizational and Functional

While function is stuck in functional, business process strategy can span both organizational and functional realms.

It can involve multiple facets of an organization’s functions, too.

Basically, the business process is a set of activities that have a clear goal.

But those activities can take place in organizational or functional areas, and they’re still united toward a common effort.

Business Function Creates a Hierarchy

Think about a conventional work environment with multiple departments.

By necessity, there’s a hierarchy built-in:

Front-line employees report to a supervisor, who reports to a manager, and you’ll likely have multiple supervisors and managers under your executive team.

Depending on the organization’s size, you may have department heads, directors, and myriad other roles.

A traditional business function-focused organization will then deal with an imbalance of power—and employees who feel powerless and then are unmotivated.

Business Processes Link Everything Together

A business can get away with skipping over business process management. It happens all the time.

But by using intentional business processes, you can link together the elements that comprise your business.

Unification, both in terms of work activities and worker attitudes, is a beneficial side effect of the business process.

More than that, business process implementation is a unification effort on its own.

Tying everything together has the dual effect of creating a checks-and-balances system while also boosting workplace morale.

People aren’t necessarily managed under a BPM system; instead, they’re contributors.

Clear business processes make expectations obvious, and the spoken and unspoken message is that the company cares about progress and collaboration. 

Business Process vs. X

There are many activities in business that are similar but yet different to a business process.

Below you find a list of the most important distinctions between different business activities and a business process:

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