The Rummler-Brache Business Process Management Methodology

Rummlerbrache Phases

The Rummler-Brache approach is straightforward. Not over-engineered. Everything fits together nicely. Each step naturally follows the next. We have perfected the “process” of process redesign by making it easy to learn and do.

Click on the following to learn more about (from a high-level) the phases of our methodology:

The following activities are completed in Phase 0:

Construct a Supersystem Map to:

Validate and clarify the business strategy so it can be linked to performance. Questions concerning strategy include: Is it current? appropriate? specific? well understood?

Identify your critical success factors (CSFs)—things central for success in your specific line of business. 

Identify critical business issues/opportunities (CBIs)—so you can target processes for improvement that most impact those issues.

Construct a Process Relationship Map to:

Identify core processes—10 or 12 processes that must operate well for you to meet your strategic objectives.  For example, if you are in the commercial banking business, your cash management process had better be efficient. If you are in the airline business, your safety process must work. 

Then, draft the Performance Improvement Plan whose basis is the above collected information.

If the Performance Improvement Planning phase determined the need for one or more process improvement projects, the first step is to make sure you clarify the scope of the work ahead.

Since you probably don’t want to shut down the business to overhaul everything at once, and since resources always are limited, the first challenge is to set priorities—determine which processes to improve and in what sequence.

As part of Phase 1: Process Improvement Project Definition:

Review the deliverables for phases 1, 2, and 3.

Create a process profile—decide where the process starts and where it ends for each project. For example, the order fulfillment process:

  • Does it start with engineering for customization?
  • Does it end once the customer receives the products?
  • Or does it end when the customer pays you?

Identify critical process issues—translate CBIs from Phase 1 into one or more critical process issues.

Create functional relationship map to identify functional dependencies.

Establish project goals—these define “success” for the project so they should very specific, usually containing actual decrease or increase percentages.

Define project roles—who will be on the lead the teams, be on them, and serve as resources.

Develop a project plan for Process Analysis and Design—includes a timetable for activities and a tactical plan for the project (who is going to do what by when).

Orient participants in the Rummler-Brache methodology—provide training and specifics about the project.

The output from Process Improvement Project Definition is the completed project scope.

The inputs from Phase 1--Process Improvement Project Definition include a Project Definition Worksheet describing project goals, roles, and boundaries.

Phase 2 includes the following steps:

Document and validate the “Is” process to confirm that it accurately represents the work as it is performed today.

Identify disconnects in the "Is" process

Do not proceed to the development of the “Should” map without first analyzing the “Is” process because:

  • One way of defining implementation is moving from "Is" to "Should".  If you don’t know where “Is” is, it will be difficult to track progress.
  • Another benefit of “Is” analysis is team building.  The time spent in describing the “Is” and bringing to light all its faults and strengths of a process helps the Design Team transition from a group of individuals into a more cohesive team.
  • “Is” analysis will identify what is working so strengths are not discarded with the problems.
  • The “Is” map will help communicate the need for change during implementation.  

Review the Rummler-Brache design approach.

Develop and test “Should” design specifications—these are the foundation of what the “Should” process ought to look like.

Develop "Could Be" designs—each "Could Be" should be an attempt to meet or exceed the design specifications 

Create the “Should” cross-functional process map—the future-state process that capitalizes on the strengths and overcomes the weaknesses of the current process.

Design process measures to indicate on a continuing basis, how well the new “Should” process is performing.

Develop recommendations and the implementation strategy—provide the Steering Team an idea of the investment and changes involved in implementing the recommendations.

An output of Phase 2--Process Analysis and Design is a “Should” cross-functional process map.  

The inputs for Phase 3: Managing Implementation and Change include the “Should” process, recommendations, and an implementation strategy.

Phase 3--Managing Implementation and Change overlaps with Phase 2--Process Analysis and Design. This overlap involves specific implementation actions that will influence the “Should” process design.

During Phase 3:

Review criteria for selection of team members.

Determine implementation team structure—identify cross-functional team members and leaders.

Prepare detailed implementation plans—installation of a “Should” process can require new measures, organization structures, policies and procedures, information systems, and job descriptions. 

Follow communication best practices.

Begin development cycle:

  • Develop whatever is necessary for the change.
  • Prepare the organization for change.
  • Pilot the changes.
  • Evaluate the results of the pilot.
  • Incorporate the results back into the development cycle.

Cutover to the new process—involves signaling the start of use of the “Should” and taking conscious steps to undo the “Is.”  Old systems are dismantled.

Institutionalize changes—the “Should” becomes your new way of working—your new “Is” as you move into the Performance Management phase.

The output of Phase 3 is an up and running, redesigned process.

Process improvement projects are important and help solve critical business issues. However, world-class process performance is achieved through continuous improvement, and not just by fixing processes that periodically break down. 

In Phase 4: Process Management, the individual process is managed for optimal performance on a continuing basis.

The input to Phase 4 is an improved process from Phase 3 or a healthy process from Phase 0 (a process that does not require major improvement right now, but requires management attention to remain healthy).

During Phase 4:

Clarify management roles and responsibilities—process owners and process management teams are identified.

Track process performance—if you are arriving at Phase 4 from Phase 3, measures were designed in Phase 2 and installed as a measurement system in Phase 3. 

If you are arriving at Phase 4 from Phase 0, a first step in process management is to make sure you have a good measurement system in place, one with linked measures at the Three Levels of Performance

Plan, support, and manage process performance—information from the performance management system is analyzed and corrective action taken when appropriate.

The outputs of Phase 4 are optimized processes. 

The input to Phase 5 is either a performance improvement plan or an optimized process.

Phase 5 deals with the question, “How do you manage the whole organization to take maximum advantage of what you have achieved process-by-process?”
Without an effort to tie processes together, process tunnels can quickly replace function silos.

During Phase 5:

Integrate all three levels of performance— the impact of an individual's actions on process and organizational performance is well understood in Phase 5. The metrics at all three levels now connect to one another.

Monitor and analyze organization performance using an integrated measurement system. This system includes:

  • Leading and lagging indicators.  Leading indicators (process measures) provide a basis for diagnosis/analysis of performance so that adjustments can be made in time to prevent the lagging indicators (organization measures) from deteriorating.
  • External variables—metrics related to external factors (i.e. market shifts, new regulations, new competitors) that influence organization performance.

Plan and manage processes and organizations as systems. This planning is derived from the organization’s strategy.

In Phase 5, decisions are made and action is taken more readily and more frequently than in past because the quality of the information on which the decisions/actions are based has improved substantially.