The IT service management paradigm – Business relationship management

Every year there is a trending topic on the ITSM conference circuit, in 2014 one of the subjects that seemed to be on every program was business relationship management (BRM). Do you need to add this capability to your organization, or is business relationship management just the latest buzz word, something that will go out of fashion quickly? What is business relationship management?

Wikipedia gives us this definition:

“Business relationship management consists of knowledge, skills, and behaviors (or competencies) that foster a productive relationship between a service organization (e.g. Human Resources, Information technology, a finance department, or an external provider) and their business partners.”

BRM is nothing new, the discipline has been researched and defined for a decade, it seems that IT service management was just a little late coming to the party.

Business relationship management was an addition to ITIL® in the 2011 edition of the framework where is defined as:

‘The Process or Function responsible for maintaining a Relationship with the Business. Business Relationship Management usually includes:

  • Managing personal Relationships with the Business managers
  • Providing input to Service Portfolio Management
  • Ensuring that the IT Service Provider is satisfying the Business needs of the Customers

This Process has strong links with Service Level Management.’

The business relationship manager functions as a two-way conduit, working with the business to define requirements, and communicating these to IT and conversely representing IT to the business.

In an environment where the business has the ability to independently source services from outside the organization, the business relationship management has a crucial role to play in maintaining a healthy relationship and communication stream between IT and business. This two-way conduit of information will ensure that the internal IT organization is not left out of the loop when new services are planned.

The BRM can communicate the value of using in-house expertise to broker IT service agreements with third party suppliers and ensure that IT is fully aware of all business requirements for the proposed service.

The BRM process is rapidly becoming one of the most pivotal roles in the IT Service Management space. As more and more services are sourced externally, the business relationship manager is in a position to provide the glue that enables a holistic provision of services to the business.

The flow of information both ways between IT and the business is more critical now that it has ever been. These two sides of the service equation have to work together as partners to bring innovation and value to the organization. This is where business relationship management comes into its own.

Far from being a buzzword with a limited lifespan, BRM is here to stay and expand. Gartner predicted in its 2012 report – IT Professional Outlook, 2012 to 2016: Prepare for a Future Unlike the Past – that by the end of 2016 around 20% of IT personnel would be dedicated to Relationship Management and Change Leadership functions.

Business relationship management will add value to the business as a whole and give IT both a clearer understanding of business requirements and a much-needed voice outside the walls of the IT department.

Visit the BRM Institute to learn more.

David Mainville

David Mainville

David Mainville, CEO and co-founder of Navvia, is a passionate advocate of Service Management and a frequent presenter, blogger and well known member of the ITSM community. With over 35 years of experience, David has held progressively senior technical and management roles allowing him to “connect the dots” between the Business and IT. At Navvia, David leads the charge to bring innovative ITSM solutions to market focusing on Product Development, Marketing and Operations.

• Posted by David Mainville on Jan 19, 2015
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