Introductory Concepts you need to know about Business Processes and Database Design
Introductory Concepts you need to know about Business Processes and Database Design

Introductory Concepts you need to know about Business Processes and Database Design

In this article, you will learn some introductory concepts in Business Process Analysis and Database Design. These concepts include but are not limited to the following.

  • What is a Business Process?
  • What are the Components of a Business Process?
  • Why do we need to Understand Business Processes?
  • What is Data?
  • What is a Database?
  • What is a Database Management System?
  • What are the components of a Database?
  • What is a Relational Database?
  • What's the difference between a Flat-File Database and a Relational Database?

What is a Business Process?

A business process involves a set of activities conducted by machines or employees in order to realize a business goal. There are several examples of activities in a business process, which are not limited to the following.

  • Market Research
  • Customer Recruitment
  • Manufacturing
  • Quality Assurance
  • Customer Service
  • Packaging
  • Shipping
  • Purchasing
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Negotiations

What are the Components of a Business Process?

Every business process has a set of inputs, processes, and outputs. Importantly, the output/s of one business process can serve as the input/s to another. In this way, business processes can be performed within a single organisation/business, which may interact with processes that are enacted by other organisations/businesses e.g., suppliers, headquarters, and international divisions.

Notably to achieve the goals of the business process the following components are needed.

  • Activities/tasks
  • System/machines
  • Employee(s)
  • Workflow
  • Data

In addition, key features of business processes include the following. 

  • A business process should be executable.
  • A business process should be repeatable.
  • A business process should be measurable.
  • A business process should be flexible.
  • A business process should be specific and should include well-defined start and endpoints for all activities.

Why do we need to Understand Business Processes?

To understand the processes and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of a business's operations we can perform a Business Process Analysis (BPA), which could yield the following results.

  • implicit knowledge achieved through observation, contextual interviews with individuals etc and capture manual processes. In so doing we can capture undocumented processes.
  • Locate problematic areas, which cause delays in the business process e.g., redundant activities. Inevitably, eradicating unnecessary or redundant tasks can improve productivity and efficiency in a business.
  • Identify areas for improvement and save costs by identifying areas where a business is overspending or we can assess how the business can find resourceful ways to improve business productivity. In so doing, this may lead to the production of top quality goods and services.
  • Customers play a vital role in business operations. Once business processes are executed efficiently and effectively, then it is anticipated that customer satisfaction will improve.

Now that we have briefly explored business processes let's talk about data, databases, and database management systems. 

What is Data?

Data are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric, that are collected through observation. - Wikipedia

Data is everywhere around! Examples of data include but are not limited to the following.

  • weight
  • blood pressure
  • blood glucose level
  • prices
  • costs
  • employee name
  • employee address
  • product names
  • order date
  • customer name
  • customer id

What is a Database?

In computing, a database is an organized collection of data stored and accessed electronically from a computer system. - Wikipedia 

There are several real-life applications of databases. Can you think of some examples of real-life databases? Here are some examples below.

  • Health care databases store an extensive amount of patient medical history, administration data, and demographic data.
  • Weather databases enable weather companies to analyse data gathered, store data, and exploit complex machine learning algorithms to perform trend analysis of weather patterns e.g., (analyzing seasonal rainfall and temperature data).
  • Financial Databases are leveraged by many financial institutions to manage and keep track of customer accounts, balances, and deposits.
  • Many Governmental institutions exploit databases to collect data for the purposes of research, defense, and legislation among others.

 

What is a Database Management System?

The database management system (DBMS) is the software that interacts with end users, applications, and the database itself to capture and analyze the data. - Wikipedia 

Many small, medium, and large scale enterprises exploit DBMS to capture and analyze data. Examples of DBMS software include the following.

  • MySQL
  • Microsoft Access
  • Oracle
  • PostgreSQL
  • SQLite
  • IBM DB2

What are the Components of a Database?

Figure 1. Showing the components of a database.

 

From the figure above, we can define the following.

  • Users as those who support the organisation, management, and retrieval of data in a database e.g.s., include application programmers, end-users, business analysts, data engineers, and database administrators among others.
  • The software supports the organization, management, and retrieval of data in a database.
  • Hardware refers to the physical and electronic devices such as computers, storage e.g., hard disk, and input/output devices (e.g., printer) that offer the interface between computers and real-world systems.
  • Data includes raw facts, which can be structured and processed to become more meaningful.

What is a Relational Database?

A relational database is a type of database that stores and provides access to data points that are related to one another. Oracle 

In a relational database, data is stored in tables otherwise known as relations. Each row in a table contains data about an entity. Moreover, each row has a unique ID, which is referred to as a key (see this article for more information on database keys.). Note that an entity is anything (person, place, or object) we can store data about. The columns of the table contain data of a particular type and contain data about the attributes of the entity.

What's the difference between a flat-file database and a relational database?

Flat file databases are super simple and store data in a single table structure, which makes them easily readable by many software applications. 

On the other hand, relational databases have multiple tables and enable the cross-referencing of records between tables. In addition, relational databases leverage “indexes” therefore you can easily find records based on particular search criteria.

Summary

In this article, we have explored the following.

What is a business process? - A set of activities performed by an employee or a system to achieve a particular business goal.

In addition, we have explored the components of a business process and explored why we need to understand business processes. 

Later, we were introduced to the following concepts data, databases, and database management systems. Moreover, we briefly explained the components of a database (see Fig. 1) and defined the notion of a relational database. In addition, we described the main difference between a flat-file database and a relational database.

If you have been empowered by the information shared in this article, then please clap using the clap emoticon. Please feel free to ask any questions or to share your comments using the comment emoticon.

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Published By
Kadian Davis-Owusu (PhD)
Kadian has a background in Computer Science and pursued her PhD and post-doctoral studies in the fields of Design for Social Interaction and Design for Health. She has taught a number of interaction design courses at the university level including the University of the West Indies, the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean (UCC) in Jamaica, and the Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands. Kadian also serves as the Founder and Lead UX Designer for TeachSomebody and is the host of the ExpertsConnect video podcast. In this function, Kadian serves to bridge the learning gap by delivering high-quality content tailored to meet your learning needs. Moreover, through expert collaboration, top-quality experts are equipped with a unique channel to create public awareness and establish thought leadership in their related domains.... Show more
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