Saturday, August 31, 2013

EA/BPM Concept Clarification: Business Outcome vs. Process Output


Outputs are about flows, outcomes are about consequences. Business Outcome would be a required service or product delivery; Process Output would be the result of any process activity. The latter is a subset of the former. There are more perspectives upon this two business concept comparison:

  1. Outputs are the immediate results produced by a business process. Outputs contribute to broader, overarching outcomes. Part of scenario planning is to examine all the possible outcomes. Business outcomes are in terms of (1) what has happened, and in terms of (2) what might happen. In strategic planning, there’s the need to talk about the possible outcomes for some course of action; scenario planning is clearly another situation where outcomes can be visualized, predicted, imagined, etc. leading to the formulation of goals and objectives.  
  1. A business outcome would be a desired result to fulfill a business driver; while an output would be a more quantifiable parameter, a derivative of the outcome. The value of expressing an outcome is that it offers an insight into how you know an objective has been achieved; it provides an indication of success – the realization of the stated objective; objective / purpose / aim; outcome / result / benefit. Output is more quantitative in nature while outcome can be qualitative or quantitative. And there can be one to many relationships between an outcome and an output. 
  1. A process output as more explicit and well defined, and far more predictable; business outcome would be something more general in nature, such as increased sales, improved margins, etc. that come about as a result of the interaction of many processes and are far less predictable than a process output. Outcomes may be expected or unexpected, whereas a process output is usually highly predictable and well defined 
  1. A business outcome is the situation created at the end of an EA iteration where the capability of the organization has been enhanced. One could argue that this is also a process but this term usually refers to repeatable sequences of steps leading to consistent products outputs. The difference is the size of the confidence interval used to characterize expectations -- depending upon the complexity of the business and/or the maturity of the process 
  1. Objectives and outcomes might sound the same - but they are different and each offers particular value. It is common to have a stated objective or purpose. It is helpful to know how organization will recognize success. Since the generic purpose of an enterprise is to create customer value in a manner which provides acceptable dividends to the key stakeholders, whereas the enterprise controls purpose - the stakeholders have ultimate control of the outcome, since it is reliant on the judgment of value, acceptable dividends, etc. 
  1. From a network enterprise approach; outcome is more related to the overall intent of the organization, which is usually measured by business objectives and outputs relate to individual nodes production or processing results that pass to other nodes within the network. The combination and/or sequence of these processing results should culminate into meeting the overall intent or objective of the network. 
  1. One may include the other. Analogically: Water has been boiled, coffee has spooned into the cup, water's poured in, coffee has dissolved, one drunk the beverage - Process outputs. thirsty is quenched - the business outcome. The outcome is the need, the process outputs are quantifiable elements that together made the outcome possible 
  1. Business outcome is the result of organization's strategy execution; while process output is the result of business process management; if process management is to manage known from flow; then process output needs to be measured for continuous improvement. While Enterprise Architecture is the bridge between strategy and execution, thus, business outcome needs to be measured for continually improving organizational maturity. 

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