In order to better understand the activities for a competitive advantage, one can begin with the generic value chain and then identify the relevant firm-specific activities. Process flows can be mapped, and these flows used to isolate the individual value-creating activities.
Once the discrete activities are defined, linkages between activities should be identified. A linkage exists if the performance or cost of one activity affects that of another. Competitive advantage may be obtained by optimizing and coordinating linked activities.
The value chain also is useful in outsourcing decisions. Understanding the linkages between activities can lead to more optimal make-or-buy decisions that can result in either a cost advantage or a differentiating advantage.