Your business may boast of solid products and services along with a blend of great branding, dedicated staff, rock-solid leadership, and clear direction, but you can still end up wasting a lot of time and effort if you miss out on an important piece of the puzzle. Yes, you guessed it right! It’s all about processes and systems that form the glue that holds a success-driven organization together. In the absence of well-thought and clearly defined systems and processes, your organization would perform poorly in terms of productivity, output, and return on investment. Fairly clear and straightforward, right?
“What’s the difference between a system and a process?”
- When we have a look at something and let’s say see the people, relationships, buildings, activities, and interactions, we are observing a system. On the other hand, we are observing a process when we have a look at something and notice a sequence of activities producing outputs.
- Results are produced by a system through the interaction of elements. On the other hand, results are produced by a process via work being done in the process.
- Systems produce outcomes while processes produce outputs. Similarly, system managers are entrusted with the task of managing outcomes while process owners are responsible for managing process outputs.
In an ideal world, systems support processes that, in turn, support people.
System vs. Process
A system can be defined as a combination or group of parts or things forming a unitary or complex while. For instance, mass transit can be considered an excellent example of a well-defined system. It has a defined purpose – to efficiently, swiftly, and safely transport or move people and/or things from one location to another. Moreover, a system creates value such as offering an economical source of transportation and minimizing carbon footprints by reducing the count of vehicles on the road. However, a system can come to a standstill if some of the parts are not efficiently working or if some of the parts go absent. These parts are known as processes.
Conversely, processes can be defined as the related parts (activities) inside the system that work in tandem to create and maintain a function. For instance, a mass transit system will have a specified process for ticketing, maintenance, track and vehicle repair, and so on. All in all, a process is the collective sequence of activities intended to create and nurture a specific result. Processes link together information flows, people, and other resources to create and deliver value to users or customers.
The boundary between a process and a system is where the output fulfills a system objective. For instance, if we treat the number/series of steps required to fry an egg as a process, we need to remember that frying the egg is a stage of the meal preparation stage (that is a stage in the service delivery process). Any of these processes can efficiently interact with the process outputs used in the process of meal preparation. Cut off the electricity supply and the cook cannot fry the egg. Therefore, it is important to ascend through a hierarchy of processes to a system of processes that along with other elements deliver experiences to delight the customer – the final objective of frying the egg, completing the stage of meal preparation, and delivering the service.
In short, your systems are the “what”. As in, what value is offered to the user or customer. Likewise, your processes are the “how”. How do all the activities inside an organization work in tandem to offer that value?
Processes and systems are the building blocks of every organization. Every facet of the organization – on the shop floor, in the office, or the warehouse – is an integral part of a system that can be improved or managed by applying correct principles.
Need help to automate, improve, and streamline your systems and processes? Visit Dana Sacco now!
I’m Dana, a small business systems GENIE! As a mom of 5 kids, a wife, and a grandmother, I am someone who has worked from home in multiple businesses for the last 30 years, and I get it. We are tired and need systems in place in order to make it all work and achieve some semblance of balance! I love order and chaos all at once and when I see a problem, I map it out in my head to make it work.
I’m an avid reader and learner as well as a woman who needs color coding in her life to make it work. If you haven’t guessed yet, my favorite color is purple and family is life.