Finding that I post more on planning and management than on technical topics. This stems from current efforts more than anything.
The main thing I want to cover is that a process is repeatable. If it's not understood and documented, then there ain't no process. Or, as I just found out, it's the components of the business process that do not exist.
However, I would state that a process that is different for each individual or instance of input, cannot be defined by a single meaningful process. In order to understand a current process in such state, much effort is required to understand the process from each point of view.
Unless a consistent process has been defined, the process is to collect whatever procedures make sense at the time in order to achieve the outcome.
In some cases, perhaps in a results-oriented environment, ad hoc may be the best approach. This style of process management relies on the individual more than the structure of the process.
There are certain risks involved in taking such an approach including un-repeatable results and inconsistent data for analysis. Another drawback is the increased risk in taking on technical debt, depending on the individual.
The benefits are that the end result can be achieved without following a possibly complex and lengthy chain of procedures - results are dependent upon the individuals involved.
A well-defined process can be implemented in a process-oriented environment. This style is suitable for consistent and repeatable behavior, as long as people are following process.
The major risks are that a process may be ill-defined, overbearing, or not well understood. It may serve to stifle creativity as well as lead people to go off process if it is not understood, is too complex to follow, or if time to results is inadequate to the situation.
The benefits can be great once data is tracked and proper analysis techniques can be applied. Resources can be directed according to analysis, and long-term planning can be better achieved.
Possibly, one of the most important aspects of defining a process would be to keep the long-term goals in mind. If the process becomes heavy for the sake of the process, it may do more damage than good.
Sometimes, tools can limit the performance of a process. Appropriate tooling should be applied to the appropriate process; the process should not be limited or hindered in effectiveness by the tools.