As an IT Service Provider, one of our major focuses is to maximize IT service capabilities. The goal is to maximize capabilities not only in terms of Service Level Agreements (SLAs), but also in terms of the products, customer satisfaction, and services provided. Business Relationship Management (BRM) is an important strategy rooted in ITIL® that is being implemented by many organizations to take advantage of the added value realized by aligning IT services, the business, and their customers.
What is Business Relationship Management?
BRM is a formal approach to understanding, defining, and supporting business activities related to the customers’ requirements, needs, and expectations. It implements tools and techniques for improving the relationship between a service provider and its customer(s), allowing the organization to take advantage of its IT service capabilities to the greatest extent possible within the limits of resource availability, budget, and technical feasibility.
BRM professionals act as liaisons who work to reduce any barriers between the IT Service Providers, customers, and/or the business operating units. To perform this role effectively, the service provider should recognize the need for expertise in the service provider’s business, the technology, and the customer’s business requirements and priorities. The purpose is purely to help with:
- Managing business and customer requirements by creating an open dialogue between the IT service provider and its customers to understand their business requirements and prioritize their needs.
- Conducting service performance reviews to ensure that customers take part in and understand the performance of their IT services and to provide a forum to continuously improve services.
- Managing customer feedback to ensure it is registered, monitored, and communicated to both the IT service provider and the customer in a clear, responsive, and structured manner.
- Managing customer satisfaction to measure the level of customer satisfaction and to identify changes needed to improve the service to meet customer expectations.
When executed properly, BRM bridges the gap between the IT services offered and the customers’ requirements. This ensures the IT service provider’s goals align with the overall business strategy and balance the needs of the customers with organizational profitability, while considering technical innovation.
What does this mean to IT Service Providers?
Business Relationship Management is rapidly becoming a pivotal function in the IT Service Management space and a key capability within many IT organizations by offering a new way of developing solutions to customer requirements. A neutral intermediary exists to balance the priorities of the IT Service Provider, the customer, and the business. The BRM role is part mediator, part marriage counselor, and part IT-whisperer responsible for getting the best solution out of an organization’s people, processes, and technology. This joint effort creates new ideas, effectiveness, and efficiencies out of standard methods and practices. BRM has substantially changed the direction at many organizations by allowing them to focus on business outcomes and to become more strategic in their requirements management, replacing the traditional model of meeting service-level performance and sales targets.
Why Business Relationship Management?
Business Relationship Management improves communication, collaboration, and the overall IT-to-business relationship. It gives cross-functional teams the ability to improve and integrate IT services with the business and customer needs. When implemented with the commitment of the organization, BRM results in the following:
- Customer requirements are documented, managed, and advocated by a dedicated resource.
- Service performance reviews are measured against a formal Service Level Agreement (SLA).
- Customer feedback, positive and negative, is captured and monitored as a formal process of communication.
- Customer satisfaction metrics are analyzed to identify trends and areas of improvements.
Consider these questions:
- How well do your IT service providers interact with their customers?
- Are your IT service providers getting the information they need to deliver valuable services?
- Is your IT organization strategically aligned with the business, or is it isolated from the rest of the business?
- Is your IT meeting the needs and demands of its customers?
- Do your customers know the capabilities of the IT organization?
If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, BRM may be a tool that can help you implement a course of action to improve these issues and align your IT services with your overall strategy.
Is BRM something your organization should consider? Or, have they already implemented it in your workplace? We look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback.
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