Another 5 Tips for Using BRM to Rock Service Levels
Last week, I blogged about business relationship management (BRM) (link) and how it can seriously help IT organizations who are struggling to meet business expectations around service quality, support, and anything else really. I gave you my first 5 tips, and now I’d like to follow up with the rest.
Here we go…
Tip 6: Shape Your Demand
BRM works very closely with another of the capabilities in ITIL’s service strategy – demand management, which is the process or capability that seeks to understand, anticipate, and influence customer demand for IT services and the provision of sufficient capacity to meet these demands. In other words, it ensures that the IT organization works with the rest of the business at the requirements stage of any project to ensure that the resulting service is designed in such a way that it’s able to cope with current future workloads and that supply meets demand.
Examples of demand management and BRM working closely together to positively influence and shape demand include:
- BRM helping to represent demand management techniques such as off-peak pricing, volume discounts, and differentiated service levels to influence the arrival of business demand (for available IT services) in specific, and manageable, patterns.
- Specific demand analysis is included as a discussion point in monthly BRM review meetings.
- Project and program management is used to ensure that the supply-demand balance is maintained over time.
- Agile supply capabilities, i.e. the ability to rapidly prototype, validate business experiments, or clarify requirements.
- Robust business and service provider governance that addresses the need to demonstrate how demand is justified, funded, and accounted for.
The bottom line? To positively drive demand and business habits, you need to have a great relationship with your customer(s), so “deal in” your BRM capability to the game.
Tip 7: Provide Governance
Organizations of all types and sizes need governance capabilities to ensure that they meet objectives while managing cost and risks.
This governance is the set of controls and other mechanisms put in place to not only protect but also to create value for the organization. It will usually cover control, compliance, and performance. In short, governance acts as a safety valve – and through having the right policies, practices, and processes in place, the quicker governance-related issues can be identified, investigated, and resolved.
Having the right governance in place will support your BRM capability by:
- Providing clarity of decision rights to all service providers and business stakeholders.
- Ensuring decisions regarding IT are made at the right level.
- Agreeing and communicating accountabilities and responsibilities, and codifying them in formal RACI (responsible-accountable-consulted-informed) charts.
In order for governance to play a truly effective part in your IT organization’s BRM capability, the right governance structures need to be in place. For example:
- An enterprise IT board – a linking mechanism to help ensure that IT and business objectives remain aligned at a board level.
- A project management office (PMO) – which maintains project-management-related standards for IT and the business alike.
- An enterprise architecture council – which links the business mission, strategy, and processes of an organization to its IT strategy, and documents this using multiple architectural models (or views) that show how the current and future needs of the business will be met in an efficient, sustainable, agile, and adaptable manner.
Tip 8: Focus on Value Management
In 2018 and beyond, business value is the name of the game for IT organizations.
Value management within BRM looks to capture, optimize, and communicate the business value of IT service provider investments and capabilities – it’s a “flow” of demand-support and how new opportunities drive value for the organization.
And BRM good practice offers various steps for your IT organization to better articulate how its products and services deliver value (to the business) when selling new opportunities (such as new technology mechanisms for better external-customer engagement), including:
- Formally capture value opportunities – adequately define the idea/opportunity, the impacted business area, results, and key stakeholders; and map out high-level functionality to be delivered.
- Create a value plan that describes the positive business benefits – identify how business value will be created and monitored if the opportunity is progressed.
- Develop the business case – in justifying the investment, get full commitment from the stakeholders involved and to support the decision-making process.
- Get the business case approved by the appropriate business process – this will usually be via an approval route that reviews business case merit, competing opportunities, and investment/project portfolio considerations.
- Capture and communicate value to key business stakeholders – measure, monitor, and track the improvements made, and validate or adjust the benefits received, and still to be received, by stakeholders.
Done well, the adoption of value-management techniques (by the IT organization), used in conjunction with other BRM capabilities, will support the overall business objectives. Basically, it’s tying new IT/technology opportunities (and the business value they deliver) together into a clear and consistent action plan that can be systematically managed by IT to deliver the required business results.
Tip 9: Plan for “Blips”
A relationship improvement plan is, in its most basic form, a continual service improvement (CSI) plan for business relationships. It’s a technique for managing and improving the business-service-provider relationship for the purpose of driving higher business value from provider investments and assets (in this case the corporate IT organization).
Example relationship improvement plan contents include:
- Value expectations that are unmet
- Other challenges being faced in delivering against business needs
- The strategy for improving on current performance against expectations
By building relationship improvement plans into your IT organization’s BRM capabilities early, you can consistently address small issues quickly before they escalate or spiral out of control.
Tip 10: Express a Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
“Expressing a unique value proposition” is a technique for positioning an offer or opportunity with your business and IT service provider colleagues in a way that’s clear, compelling, and convincing. It’s comprised of four key stages:
- Customer promise – document exactly what you can offer, how the business should engage with you, and how your offer will help to achieve business goals.
- Track record – the history (of performance) that supports your value proposition.
- Service offering – the branding of your proposed service, and what sets it apart from everything else.
- Point of view – what strongly held points of view do you hold that would be of interest to your business partner?
Importantly, creating a UVP isn’t a one-time deal. You’ll need to refine it over time, as your relationship progresses, and you learn more about your business partners and supporting stakeholders.
More information on each of my ten tips can be found in the BRMI’s “Guide to the BRM Body of Knowledge” publication. If you would like to read another two blogs I’ve written about the importance of BRM, then they can be found here:
- How Business Relationship Management Could Help You Chase the Right Balls
- The Road to Kittens Is Littered With BRM
If you are already using BRM with great success in your organization, what do you think of my tips? What would you add? Please let me know in the comments!
Posted by Joe the IT Guy