Business Purpose

Business purpose is an expression of the reason that the business is in existence.  A number of stakeholders make demands on the business, and the purpose of the business is the satisfaction of those demands.  These stakeholders include customers, suppliers, creditors, debtors, shareholders, community groups, and employees.  The most fundamental purpose of any business is to produce a result expected by its customers.  Also critically important are the satisfaction of the shareholders or owners of the business, and fulfilling the requirements of employees.

Business purpose is both motivated and constrained by the situation that the business finds itself in.  In turn, the expressed purpose motivates the role-players.  The purpose is supported by the commitments made on behalf of the business.  And, it is fulfilled by the outcomes produced by business behavior. The recursive relationship on business purpose means that a high-level reason for being can be expressed in any number of goals and objectives.  A measure of business effectiveness is the extent to which the more detailed and specific goals and objectives work together to support the more fundamental purpose, or reason for being.

The reason we are concerned with business purpose is that any investment in information systems and technology must be justified by how it supports the goals and objectives of the business.  As we investigate the business, there are a number of areas we can look for statements of purpose.

Business purpose is expressed in many forms, using various different terms.  Mission statements, also called value statements, credos, or principles, are the operational, ethical and financial guiding lights of companies.  They articulate the goals, dreams, behavior, culture and strategies of the business.  Vision statements articulate the long term objectives of the business in terms of target marketplace, products and services, as well as the desired financial position (revenue, profit, etc.).  Critical success factors call out certain specific areas in which satisfactory results will ensure the achievement of business goals.