Business Process vs. Use Case (+ Examples)


This is about business process vs. use case.

You’ll learn:

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

So if you want to understand this 101 of business processes, then you’re in the right place.

Let’s get started!

What Is the Difference Between a Business Process and a Use Case?

As you continue to develop your business process, understanding the different parts of it becomes essential.

That’s where a use case comes in. It is a part of your business process.

This is about distributed business process management.

Distributed business process management is the observation and improvement of operations within a business to improve and optimize workflow and results.

You need every element to come together to produce the process that gets you the results you want.

So, by understanding each aspect, you can build a better method to get the best results.

What Is a Business Process?

It sounds simple, but when it comes to answering the question “what’s a business process,” you have to dive deep.

In fact, a business process is a series of steps, not a single action. The process leads to a specific goal within the business.

So, a business process might involve multiple steps and numerous team members to reach the desired outcome.

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

What Is a Use Case?

A use case covers a specific workflow in your business, and it states what performing the task will do.

Ideally, a use case would help produce better results for your business, such as getting more sales.

For example, you have a lemonade stand. Your business process is to sell lemonade.

Your business workflow is the steps you take to make and sell the drink. According to the University of Houston, a use case is a specific instance in which you conduct a workflow.

You can identify a use case because it will be more specific to one person, or actor, within your business.

A use case also groups similar workflows into a class.

Use cases also help you figure out what you need to do for your business to please the given actor.

Perhaps the actor is your customer, and you want them to want to come back to your business.

A use case for that scenario would focus on giving the customer a fantastic experience.

Your use case can show you and your employees what is working in your business.

Sometimes, a use case also comes with a use case realization, which focuses on how that use case performs from the inside.

You need a use case realization to determine how to complete your work to, for example, get a customer to come back.

A use case should encompass multiple steps that help achieve your desired objective.

In the case of getting a returning customer, it’s up to the sales associates and cashier to give the customer a good experience.

A Look at a Business Process vs. Use Case

When you think about a business process vs. business use case, it seems like there is little difference.

Both are part of the bigger picture of your business, and the use case is part of the process.

The way to distinguish them is to think of the process as a whole thing. It is like a pizza. The entire pizza is the business process.

The use case is just one part of the process, which would make it like the elements of the pizza.

Perhaps you have a cheese pizza. The cheese is one use case, and the sauce is another.

You should consider the business process and use case together.

If your business process has a focus on increasing revenue, every use case you have should reflect that.

Luckily, you can have multiple use cases in your business.

The first use case could be to give customers an excellent experience in your store.

You have your team make customers feel welcome and happy.

Another use case could be setting up different ordering systems so that your customers don’t have to come to your location.

That way, you can take more customer orders, and you can bring in more revenue.

You may start with one or two use cases, but as your business grows, you may need more.

Having fewer or more use cases isn’t necessarily better, so consider how each can help with your business process.

The Parts of a Use Case

A business use case does not just materialize. You need to create it.

The Project Management Institute states that to build a use case, you need three critical parts:

  • System
  • Actors
  • Interface

The system includes what you plan to make in your business, and it covers the boundaries of your project.

Focusing on the system allows you to determine project risks and figure out any requirements. It can also help you establish the actor or actors involved.

Actors include anyone who will be part of your system in the use case.

One example would be sales associates who keep a clean sales floor and offer their help to customers.

Any customer who places an order by calling or visiting a website is also an actor.

Consider a few different types of actors you may have:

  • People Actors
  • System Actors
  • Time Actors

People actors are simple in that they are the people who act in your business. They usually include employees and customers.

System actors come in the form of an automated device, such as a computer.

Time actors are similar to system actors because they can be automatic.

But time actors use a timer to repeat the same activity on a schedule.

Creating a Use Case

Now that you know what one is and how it works, you can learn how to create a use case.

Consider the lemonade business as an example to go through each part of the use case creation process.

To form a use case, you need to complete a few tasks:

  • Identify parties involved
  • Identify your goal
  • Define what must happen before you can begin
  • Define the outcome
  • Put your use case into practice

These steps are similar to those you use when setting up a business process or workflow.

But the details, such as the parties involved, are essential differences.

Identify Parties Involved

To know how to write your use case, you have to know who will use and benefit from it.

In your lemonade business, the parties are you, your employees, and the customers.

Each party would be an actor because everyone is carrying out a task.

For example, you may work with managers to come up with sales ideas.

Your employees set up and sell lemonade, and your customers order their lemonade and pay for it.

Identify Your Goal

Your next step is to figure out what your goal is.

Since this is a business, your goal is crystal clear: make money. You want to sell your lemonade and make a profit.

But you can and should go more detailed than making money.

Earning a profit is a goal for your business process, so consider how your use case can help achieve that.

For example, maybe your goal is to sell a certain number of drinks in a day.

Or perhaps your goal is to get customer referrals to grow your business.

Define What Must Happen Before You Can Begin

Setting up a use case can take some work because you need to make sure it will function as you expect.

Consider some of the steps you should follow:

  • Find a supplier for lemons and sugar
  • Find a location for your business
  • Train your employees
  • Make the lemonade

It might be easy to confuse these tasks with those of a business process because they are somewhat general.

However, you can use these steps as a use case for setting up a new location.

You need to handle every single aspect of getting this business up and running.

Once you set up your lemonade shop, your use case steps can include how to make the lemonade, what to say to customers, and how to offer discounts to get customers to come back.

Define the Outcome

You know you need to make at least as much as you spend, which means that your income has to cover paying your employees, buying ingredients, and the costs associated with the physical location’s upkeep and operation.

It shouldn’t be too difficult to come up with the total for your expenses.

The next part, though, is tricky.

You have to decide how much you want to earn as a profit, which is the money that goes into your pocket.

On the other hand, you shouldn’t overcharge customers. When that happens, no one will choose to visit your business, so you will lose out on money.

If your use case focuses on getting returning customers, you may also want to offer a loyalty program.

After every few visits, your customer will get a free lemonade.

You can also offer other items, such as pastries or pretzels, to complement the lemonade.

As long as you can keep your expenses low, you can afford to charge less for the lemonade.

You can encourage customers to buy more so that you can make more without raising your lemonade prices.

Put Your Use Case Into Practice

Once you have an idea of the use case that can best help you reach your goals, you need to implement it.

Be sure to train your employees on how they should use your system and interact with customers.

If you have any time actors, have someone from your IT department code that into your system.

It may take a while to see results with your use case, and you may need to change things.

But the sooner you start working with a use case, the sooner you will find if it’s the right fit.

If it doesn’t work as well, then you can consider other options to help you reach your goals.

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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