Identifying Key Roles in a Business Process

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Identify key roles in a business process

Identifying Key Roles in a Business Process


Welcome back to this business process primer unit, part of your citizen developer learning journey.

As we talked about in the previous lesson, we wanted to spend a few minutes talking you through the key roles or participants you’ll find in the average business process. You’ll see here that are three main types of participants:

  • The primary participant.
  • The secondary participant.
  • Those who need to be kept informed of the process.

To explain these, we’ll go back to our employee onboarding example again and, in this case, look at ordering a new laptop.

Primary Participants Own and Initiate

First, there are the primary participants, and they can be divided into process owners and process initiators.

  • The owners are the people within an organization or department who are responsible for how a specific process works. In this example, they are the ones who define exactly how ordering a new laptop is done for new starters at the company. Then, they are responsible for making sure that ordered laptops are delivered on-time with acceptable quality.
  • The initiators are the employees who start that process. In this case, they indicate that a new laptop is needed. This process might be initiated by the new employee themselves, a hiring manager, or even a member of the HR team.

These are the primary participants, the process owners, who define the process and ensure that it provides quality results, and the initiators, who start the processes when it’s needed.

Secondary Participants Perform Actions and Make Decisions

Next are the secondary participants. These again can be divided into two roles, process participants and decision makers.

  • Process participants are those who need to perform an action or complete a task for the process to run successfully. When ordering a new laptop, an example of a process participant is the hardware vendor. Here, they supply a list of available laptops and check the stock.
  • You then have the decision makers, the people who at some stage must decide if the process can continue. When ordering a new laptop, this may involve approving a purchase order or deciding if the laptop is within the allocated budget.

We can start to see a picture here, the process owner defines the process, the initiator starts it, the participant completes the necessary tasks as it runs, and the decision maker controls whether the process continues, needs reviewing, or is stopped.

Stakeholders in a Process Need to be Informed

In addition to the primary and secondary participants, a process may have stakeholders who need to be informed along the way. These can be divided into two further roles, those who need visibility into individual process instances and those who need visibility of all instances of that process. So, when ordering a new laptop, the new employees' manager may want to know the status of that order, so they need to be informed about an individual process instance.

You have the financial controller, who will want to see the complete spend on laptops within the department or organization, and, therefore, needs a wider overview.

Not all processes require every role, and, in some cases, the same person may fulfill several roles at once. As we learned previously, this depends on the specific process and the business running it.

Summary: Roles in a Business Process

To recap, there are three main roles involved in a business process. You have the primary participants, made up of owners and initiators. You have the secondary participants, made up of process participants and decision makers. Then you have the informed roles, stakeholders who need either individual process views or a wider overview of all instances of that process running.

If you are aiming to be a citizen developer, you should first look at the processes where you are a primary participant. Presumably, you are an expert in those business processes, whether it is for HR onboarding, finance activities like capital expenditure or asset management, procurement and vendor management, or any other line of business. There are long tail process waiting to be automated in every line of business. The most important thing is that you are proficient about how that process runs.

Next in this course, we look at how business processes are managed.

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