Sunday, March 23, 2008

COPs, MOPs and SOPs

In my previous blog I introduced the topic of a Quality Management System. A "system" is comprised of a series of interconnected processes. A process is an activity that converts inputs into outputs. Processes have suppliers and customers - they may be internal or external to your organization. This week's blog introduces the concept of "key" business processes that comprise an effective Quality Management System.

Generally, we classify our business processes into three major categories: "Core" processes (also known as Customer-Oriented Processes - 'COPs') are the major processes that represent the core work of the organization and have a direct impact on the customer. Examples of core processes include:

  • Design & Development
  • Order Management (order entry and fulfillment, forecasting, Demand Planning)
  • Production (manufacturing, outsourcing, assembly, testing, etc.)
  • Invoicing
  • After the sale Service

The Lean philosophy introduces the concept of a Value Stream. Value Streams can be thought of as the key business process of a product/service; that is, a map of all the required processes to manufacture and deliver a product to the customer.

"Management" processes ('MOPs') are management areas of responsibility that enable core processes to be performed and have an indirect impact on the customer. Examples of management processes include:

  • Quality policy and objectives
  • Planning (Strategic, Operational, Tactical)
  • Resource management
  • Customer focus
  • Management reviews

"Support" processes ('SOPs') are all other processes that enable core processes and have an indirect impact on the customer. Some support functions, and examples of their processes include:


  • Supplier management processes
  • Requisitions
  • Request for Quote


  • Accounting; cost estimates
  • P&L analysis


  • Quality
  • HR
  • IT
  • Legal
  • Engineering

In its most basic definition, a "Key" business process is one that influences customer perception of our business. A "key" business process or Value Stream assures your business its competitive advantage. To be most impactful towards our strategic plan, Entitlement Quality and Lean Six Sigma must work synergistically to continually improve our key business processes and value streams.


  1. Super helpful info, Robert. I'm definitely going to use this info as I'm helping to design the transplant of a quality system to my company's new facility. I think something that will really help is to categorize our processes by Management, Support, and Core (which is all laid out in the ISO standard, but you made it easier to understand)...thanks!

  2. In Human Resource (HR) and management circles nowadays there is much talk about Strategic Human Resource Management and many expensive books can be seen on the shelves of bookshops. But what exactly is SHRM (Strategic Human Resource Development), what are its key features and how does it differ from traditional human resource management?

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  6. Thanks lot, very helpful.

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  8. This is exactly what I did recently when developing the qms for a aerospace supplier. Very well written.

  9. Such a great ideas to share and learn about it in detail and also help others to understand about it.

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  12. Thanks for helpful information, Robert! That was an interesting opinion about key business.
    I worked on this issue for a long time and even mentioned it in my business management personal statement. However, I have identified not only these three main categories. I originally divided them into a large number of categories that are more specific. Moreover, these categories interact with each other, forming new processes. In today's world, support categories are increasingly valued. The client at choice is afraid of obvious intervention in the decision. Therefore, many firms, if they want to develop, should study this category as well.