Work Processes

Work Processes - Baldrige Glossary Definition

(Baldrige Glossary for Business, Government (Public Sector) and other Nonprofit

The term 'Work Processes' was first introduced in the Baldrige Glossary in 2009.

Work Processes

The term “work processes” refers to your most important internal value creation processes. They might include product design and delivery, customer support, supply chain management, business, and support processes. They are the processes that involve the majority of your organization’s workforce and produce customer, stakeholder, and stockholder value.

Your key work processes frequently relate to your core competencies, to the factors that determine your success relative to competitors and to the factors considered important for business growth by your senior leaders.

Note: Blue words above are hyperlinks to other Integrated Glossary terms.


The term “process” refers to linked activities with the purpose of producing a product (or service) for a customer (user) within or outside the organization. Generally, processes involve combinations of people, machines, tools, techniques, materials, and improvements in a defined series of steps or actions. Processes rarely operate in isolation and must be considered in relation to other processes that impact them. In some situations, processes might require adherence to a specific sequence of steps, with documentation (sometimes formal) of procedures and requirements, including well-defined measurement and control steps.

In many service situations, particularly when customers are directly involved in the service, process is used in a more general way (i.e., to spell out what must be done, possibly including a preferred or expected sequence). If a sequence is critical, the service needs to include information to help customers understand and follow the sequence. Such service processes also require guidance to the providers of those services on handling contingencies related to the possible actions or behaviors of those served.

In knowledge work, such as strategic planning, research, development, and analysis, process does not necessarily imply formal sequences of steps. Rather, process implies general understandings regarding competent performance, such as timing, options to be included, evaluation, and reporting. Sequences might arise as part of these understandings.

In the Baldrige Scoring System, your process achievement level is assessed. This achievement level is based on four factors that can be evaluated for each of an organization’s key processes: Approach, Deployment, Learning, and Integration. For further description, see the Scoring System.

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The problem with 'Work Processes': The term 'work processes' is one of the most controversial in the Baldrige Criteria. Some see it as out of the mainstream. Others struggle to understand what it means. The definition above has not been effective in this regard. Adding to problem is the confusion between 'work processes' and the term 'work systems'. The term 'work systems' is not a widely used term outside of Baldrige. In fact, Baldrige first used it in the Workforce Focus Category to only refer to HR systems but it was never accepted . . . in part due to the confusion as to what it meant.

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Baldrige Glossary - Work Processes