Business Process vs. System Process (+ Examples)


Business process vs. system process: What’s more important?

First, you need to know what each is.

You’ll learn:

  • What a business process is
  • What a system process is
  • The differences between a business process and a system process
  • Lots more

Keep reading!

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

In the day-to-day act of running your business, which is more important: business process vs. system process?

It might be a tough question to answer if you haven’t thoroughly examined your company’s goals, strengths, and challenges.

Here, we’ll look at the two processes and discuss their similarities and differences so you can see how they impact your business.

What Is a Business Process?

Your business process is a string of steps or actions that lead to a desirable result.

Through business process management (BPM), you organize and hone the steps to create a process that gets the results you want.

Learning the ins and outs of BPM can help you understand the business process further, but this surface explanation is plenty to help us compare the business process vs. system process.

For now, you can think of a business process as a collection of steps or methods used to reach your organization’s goals.

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

The Definition of a System

Before we discuss a system process, it’s helpful to establish what a system is.

Most of the time, people think of technology when discussing systems. In particular, computers tend to have systems, and most of us understand that concept quite easily.

Your computer has many pathways and processes it can undertake, but the ‘thing’ as a whole is a system.

Unless an outside force acts on the system, however, nothing will happen.

Your computer can’t boot itself up, click on menus, or start downloading files (at least, hopefully, it can’t do so without a pre-set command from you).

Keep in mind this definition of systems as we explore system processes in-depth.

We’ll also explore other examples of systems and system processes so you’ll develop a more dynamic view of systems.

What is a System Process?

A system process refers to how you deliver your product or service to an audience.

Whereas the business process involves the “how” of your daily routine, the system process is more of the “what.”

A system process is the way you offer whatever your product is to an audience. So, it’s not a thing, necessarily, but the structure for delivery versus the steps in it. 

Consider this: when talking about components rather than a business, a system is a closed unit.

You need input to start the system, which then passes through processes.

Ultimately, the system produces an output or outcome.

Beyond this simple explanation, systems can also be either closed or open.

Picturing a manufacturing plant is a good metaphor for systems. But then, think about a system process within a business.

Not clear yet?

Read on for more in-depth information on the similarities and differences between the business process vs. system process.

Similarities Between Business Process vs. System Process

There are similarities between a business process and system process, and they also fit together.

In general terms, a system process denotes what happens within a single system.

Your business as a whole could be the system. Or, it could be a particular department or area of the company.

In our business example, a system process explains the phenomenon of raw materials or ideas passing through a series of steps (or processes) to become the final product or offering.

The business process is what happens in between input and output. You know that the business process involves multiple steps, but also incremental progress toward an end goal.

A long-term view helps you focus on what needs to happen with your business processes throughout the system processing.

Exploring the Differences: Business Process vs. System Process

You can see how these two processes fit together. But let’s explore their differences more in-depth.

Basic Principles of Business Processes vs. System Processes

Overall, business processes:

  • Rely on a series of interconnected steps
  • Require adoption by the entire organization
  • Instill a sense of unity in companies
  • Highlight organizational goals and values
  • Focus on long-term goals

While system processes:

  • Involve three main phases
  • Essentially are the whole organization working as a unit
  • Operate without course-changing influence by the workers in them
  • Are set guidelines and parameters that govern daily activities

Business Processes Happen within the System Process

All of the steps your company decides on as part of your business process happen within the system funnel.

You can even imagine the process as passing down from the executive board (or whoever the business process management leader is) and trickling through the workers, all the way to the customer.

Whether customers can see it or not, the processes are happening throughout the organization.

From adjustments to your supply chain to modifications to your marketing messages, whatever the processes are, they move through your corporate system or departments.

A System Process Is Three Basic Steps

We’ve established that business processes happen with the system. But the business process is a separate entity. So, a system process really only has three steps.

  • Input
  • Process
  • Outcome/Output

Of course, it can easily become more complex if the system is open. An open system can be affected by outside factors, while a closed system is largely independent.

An example of an open system might be a manufacturing plant where you’re waiting on the raw product to arrive to start creating a product. 

A closed system could be a service-based business, where your work is all internal and dependent only on people within the organization.

A third potential is an isolated system, which doesn’t necessarily come into play in the corporate world.

After all, something is always affecting other things – there’s no vacuum in a business. 

Either way, there will be factors beyond your control.

Open versus closed only refers to how much interference is to be expected within your system.

The Business Process is Company (Corporation) Focused

While a system process can refer to anything from a corporation’s output to your car’s engine burning fuel to power it, business processes are company oriented.

Of course, business is in the name. But business processes are a collection of steps you use to make progress with organizational goals.

You’re not waiting around for a system to produce something – you’re enacting the change yourself.

While a company or corporation can be a system, it’s not something you do.

You can impact it, of course, but you can’t “system process,” as in, it’s a noun and not a verb. 

A System Process Doesn’t Necessarily Refer to Business Models

In contrast, system processes don’t apply strictly to business models. A system can exist anywhere and in everything, from technology to education to companies.

System processes can be orchestrated, but there’s only so much to work with after the initial setup. Creating a system process involves a specific course of action with the desired result. When you set up your business or its procedures, you’ll be creating a system.

But the later improvements can entail business processes to create change.

Business Processes Help the System Remain Efficient

We’ve established that your company is essentially a system. Whether you’re producing a product or selling a service, keeping your system operating efficiently is a priority.

Exploring, modeling, and implementing business processes can boost efficiency, profitability, and productivity.

In short, business processes contribute to the overall system.

All manner of processes are involved in a system, but business process management hones them to be more beneficial to the organization.

System Processes Are Core Elements for Baseline Performance

While we know that business processes impact your system, the core elements of the system process are sort of non-negotiable.

You need the elements of sales, accounting, management, logistics, and customer service for an operable system.

Even if they function poorly, these elements need to be present in every type of business. Improving your system processes leads to the implementation of business processes.

Again, we can see how the two concepts are interrelated yet distinct.

The System ‘Just Sits There’; You Have to Jump-Start the Process

The term system process, on its own, is a bit of a misnomer. A process is necessary; otherwise, you won’t have a functional system.

Consider this: a system could be your car engine.

Without processes – the process of inserting fuel, turning the key, starting a chain reaction, sparking combustion, allowing oxygen in – the system would just sit (and not even “idle”).

So, both business processes and a system process are necessary to create a functional, lucrative business model that achieves the goals you’ve established.

Business Processes Can Happen Independently of the System

In general terms, your business processes happen within your system.

But the business management process may not proceed in a linear fashion, and it might be interconnected in ways you wouldn’t expect.

You can picture business processes in a step-by-step manner, but that’s not always how things play out. It might be more accurate to picture a pinball ricocheting around inside a pinball machine instead.

As a business owner, you know that things may not appear to be connected when they’re actually intrinsically linked.

So, while a system is a first-next-finally process, the business processes within it can be variable.

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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