The APQC Blog

What Are Key Business Processes?

What Are Key Business Processes?

Key business processes are the processes that have the biggest impact on your customers, employees, and bottom line. In short, your key processes answer the question: “How does our business generate value?” When you know your key business processes, you know exactly where to focus your investments and energy. Given the financial and mental strain of COVID-19, identifying the processes that really matter is more important than ever. 

Typically, key processes are operational processes that fall within the following buckets:

  • Developing vision and strategy
  • Developing and managing products and services
  • Marketing and selling products and services
  • Delivering services
  • Managing customer service

Each of the above are big-picture process categories. Identifying key processes requires digging into each category to understand where you have a competitive edge that you need to preserve as well as weak spots you need to improve. It’s one thing to say, “We’re great at marketing.” Well, good for you, but how and why? Maybe you’re amazing at identifying market segments. Maybe you’re the cream of the crop when it comes to defining the customer value proposition. If you don’t know the ingredients that go into your secret sauce, you won’t be able to replicate and build on your current successes.

Identifying key business processes is even more crucial when you’ve got a problem that needs fixing. You can say, “We suck at marketing” all day long. You can yell at people or throw technology and consultants at the problem. But you won’t be able to improve marketing if you don’t identify which processes within marketing are causing you trouble. You have to understand problems before you can solve them.

I said before that most key processes are operational, but I must note that management and support processes can also be key within certain organizations and environments. For example, when unemployment drops, HR processes may become key for high-turnover organizations. When the political climate shifts, risk and compliance processes may become key for organizations operating in highly regulated industries. And regardless of your industry or environment, if you’ve got a business-killing problem within management or support processes, it’s going to be key to fix that. 

The bottom line is that key business processes are not universal or set in stone. They are unique to your organization, so it’s up to you to figure them out. That’s why we’ve created a new online course called Process Management Essentials. This self-paced course is designed to help everyone—even complete beginners—develop a structured approach for managing and improving processes in their organization. Get started today!