Nov. 14, 2017 | InBrief

Business relationship management: A discipline or role?

Business relationship management: A discipline or role?

A discipline or role?

This is the first of a three-part series explaining how Business Relationship Management (BRM) can be used as both a discipline and an enabler of digital transformation. To level set, digital transformation is the application of digital capabilities to processes, products, and assets to improve efficiency, enhance customer value, manage risk, and uncover new monetization opportunities. Such an effort requires both the Business and IT to reinvent how they will collaborate to achieve this vision.

From a personal perspective, the ITIL Service Strategy life cycle identifies the necessary components (i.e. the “what”) for establishing a strategic partnership with the Business; however, it does not provide instructions on how to achieve this objective. Thus, IT has incorrectly interpreted how each of the corresponding ITIL life cycles should be practiced by creating overly complex processes that focus exclusively on the execution side of the business while ignoring the strategic needs of the parent culture. To define the end-to-end vision of aligning the strategic value proposition of the Business, IT must transition away from the traditional, service-delivery role to that of a strategic partner. To achieve this vision, an inter working of frameworks and movements must be architected.

In 2013 the Business Relationship Management Institute, established a model to achieve strategic alignment with the Business as defined via the ITIL Service Strategy life cycle. This model is known as Business Relationship Management (BRM). In short, BRM was engineered to compliment the “what” aspect of the ITIL framework by providing the missing piece of the “how”.

Unlike ITIL, BRM is not another process framework; it is a body of knowledge that must be experienced as both a discipline and a role. As a discipline, BRM best practices are consistently delivered in a never-ending cycle of the following life cycle stages:

  • Demand Shaping

  • Exploring

  • Servicing

  • Value Harvesting

Each stage of BRM lifecycle requires constant support from both the Business and IT, otherwise the desired outcome of establishing a strategic partnership will not be achieved.

To ensure that BRM as a discipline is executed and maintained, the role of Business Relationship Manager must be incorporated into IT's resource management plan. Historically, the Business Relationship Manager role has been conducted as an “add-on” function of someone’s “day job”. Therefore, IT has performed the activity of defining Business requirements on an ad-hoc basis instead of serving as a strategic partner who understands the mission, goals, and objectives of the parent organization.

In effort to realize the goal of achieving strategic partner status, IT must ensure Business Relationship Management as a discipline is conducted on a full-time basis by a Business Relationship Manager. The role of the Business Relationship Manager is conducted by the fulfillment of the following roles:

  • BRM as connector

  • BRM as conductor

  • BRM as navigator

In the next two parts of this series, we will take a deeper look at each of the core attributes of the Business Relationship Management framework. We will introduce each concept, explain its purpose, and describe practical approaches to adopt and deliver this framework.

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