Written By: Pamela Erskine
A Business Relationship Manager (BRM) can be an asset when IT organizations are seeking to strengthen their alignment and relationship with the business units. This role works closely with the business and the IT Service Provider to ensure existing IT services meet the needs of the business and to ensure that IT is prepared to support new or changing business requirements.
To understand the role of the BRM in the organization, consider their responsibilities during each phase of the service lifecycle.
Contributions of a Business Relationship Manager
Service Strategy – The BRM is working with the business to understand the required business outcomes. They may be attending their strategic planning meetings, project related meetings, and regulatory discussions. They are routinely involved in business related conversations. The BRM is providing input regarding IT trends, technology, operations, and other considerations during these discussions. They are gathering high level business plans to discuss with the IT organization. Within the IT organization, they are facilitating strategic discussions about how to meet the needs of the business.
Service Design – The BRM will participate in the design process however; it is important to keep their involvement at a high level. This role should be consulted and informed about the service design details. The BRM will review design details ensuring that the IT service will perform as the business expects. They will be helping to assess the utility and warranty aspects of the service. They can also assist IT in determining metrics that reflect the customer experience with the service.
Service Transition – During the transition phase, the BRM will assist the IT staff with any challenges around business involvement in testing, training, or scheduling. The BRM will work with the business to prepare for the change often providing input into organizational acceptance activities such as communications and training. If unexpected issues arise during testing, the BRM will facilitate conversations with the business to determine the appropriate course of action.
Service Operations – When IT services are in production, the BRM functions as a trusted partner for both IT and the business helping to navigate any issues that may exist. If a major incident arises, the BRM will seek to understand the impact on the business and they will assist IT in understanding the impact, urgency, and priority of the issue. The BRM will also assist the Service Level Manager in navigating service level issues.
Continual Service Improvement (CSI) – The BRM will routinely meet with the business to understand their experience with the IT organization and the services provided. They will seek to understand if existing services are producing the appropriate outcomes and they will provide the business with information about technology enhancements and trends which could improve performance or reduce costs. The BRM will routinely discuss potential improvement opportunities with the IT Service Provider and facilitate/champion actions and projects that support the objectives of the broader organization.
To be effective, a Business Relationship Manager must be involved in every phase of the service lifecycle. Their understanding of the business objectives and required outcomes along with their relationship with the business units will assist the IT Service Provider in aligning IT investments with business needs and priorities.
Attend the Building Your Business Relationship Management Capabilities Workshop to grow in your role and strengthen your relationship with your business customers!
Join our mailing list to ensure you don't miss another blog or important event! At AdOPT, we are transformation consultants focused on IT strategy, process, and culture change to improve efficiency, increase effectiveness, and optimize costs. We wrote the book on organizational change for IT. For more information, contact us at 520-591-2427 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Service Desk should be a strategic asset. They are the first point of contact for the customer. They directly impact customer satisfaction and they hold the keys to a wealth of information which can help to improve the effectiveness of the IT Service Provider and reduce or optimize IT costs.
If you find yourself saying – “not in my organization, we call them the helpless desk”, you should consider if your Service Desk has the right leader.
Strong Service Desk leaders are passionate about their role. They have a laser focus on how their teams can provide a high caliber of service. They are using metrics to manage their departments and based on those metrics, they are instigating improvement actions such as training initiatives or process changes. They recognize that providing a high caliber of service means more than just solving a technical problem. The Service Desk Agents have development plans which address customer service, interpersonal skills, multitasking, writing, processes and procedures, etc. as well as the technical skills required to efficiently and effectively resolve a customer contact at first call or first level.
Service Desk Agents managed by a strong leader will be recruited to work in other areas. Their skills will be broad and valued. The Service Desk will become an entry point into the IT organization but that doesn’t mean it is entry level. When a strong leader is in place, they cultivate an environment that requires each new hire to have specific relational and technical competencies. They are careful about hiring as they want to ensure new hires will complement the existing team and ultimately, be successful in the role.
Strong Service Desk leaders are not solely focused on their departments. If improving service means addressing an issue that spans the entire IT organization, they don’t hesitate to start the discussion. They will provide information to developers and infrastructure teams on the volume and type of incidents being reported. They won’t stop there….they will go a step further by providing information about what it is costing the Service Desk and the IT organization to manage those incidents. They will request fixes to services or components and they will have the data to justify the necessary changes.
You will see the strong Service Desk leader or their representative at most project meetings. Their peers recognize them as providing valuable feedback on behalf of the customer experience and the Service Desk team. They are aware of changes in the environment and their team is prepared to support new services when they are moved into production.
When there is a major incident, the Service Desk leader is involved in the discussion about the incident, the resolution, and the communication plan. In small to mid-sized organizations, they may be at the helm during this crisis providing guidance and leadership to everyone involved until the incident is resolved.
Service Desk management is not an easy job. Projects, normal operations, and improvement initiatives often impact the Service Desk in some way. There are days where the sheer volume of change occurring is difficult to fathom much less manage. When something goes awry, they are also managing upset customers. Now add the complexity of navigating the IT organization and the reliance on other teams to effectively meet customer expectations and you can easily see that this is a profession requires specific personality traits and skills. Many IT Managers will say they have managed a Service Desk but few have really embraced the role. Without a passionate leader that truly understands the value this team brings to the IT Service Provider, your Service Desk will always be known as “the helpless desk”.
Service Owners are accountable for end to end IT services meeting the needs of the business. There are numerous articles available on the roles and responsibilities of a service owner. To summarize, the ITIL® materials define the primary responsibilities as
· Serving as the primary customer contact for service related issues and needs
· Having ultimate accountability for the service
· Ensuring the service is meeting customer needs and raising change proposals and RFCs relating to service improvements
· Working closely with process owners to ensure the processes effectively manage ongoing operations of the service and that improvements are recognized with investments prioritized based on business strategy
Small to mid-size companies often assign the role of Service Owner to operational managers. To be successful in this role, it is imperative that operational managers take the time to truly understand the customer’s perspective about the service. The operational manager needs to take a pragmatic view of the service and at times, they may need to champion service improvements that may not be popular in the IT organization or even, the operational manager’s team. Acting in this manner is one of the most challenging aspects for anyone functioning in the role of a service owner.
Whether a Service Owner position exists or the role is assigned to existing resources, there are critical skills and abilities required for success.
Top Skills and Abilities for Service Owners
(The skills and abilities noted are not in priority order)
· Ability to translate technical jargon into business language and to effectively convey business goals and objectives to technical staff – The Service Owner is often working directly with the customer to understand their needs and how the existing service may or may not be meeting those needs. They need the ability to help the business understand technology related challenges and to help IT staff understand how the IT service supports the business.
· Strong active listening skills are required to understand the complete message being conveyed -The Service Owner needs to pay close attention when working with the customer and IT. They need the ability hear the message being conveyed but they should also be able to interpret the body language. They need to focus on the person they are engaging to fully understand their perspective.
· Ability to establish and maintain strong relationships with both the customer and IT staff by developing trust, integrity, and credibility with each area.
· Analytical skills are necessary to understand business drivers and objectives, processes, needs, and existing performance in order to work with all parties to design effective solutions.
· Ability to resolve conflict and negotiate resolutions that meet everyone’s needs – A Service Owner often helps to negotiate solutions to problems such as conflicting business requirements, competing priorities, resource constraints, etc.
Notice that technical skills were not required. The Service Owner functions more as an interpreter for the business and IT. They should not be lost in technical or business conversations however; they are not the subject matter expert. They are more focused on providing a cost effective service which meets the business need. They rely on technical and business experts for in depth information and guidance.
The Service Owner role has significant impact on customer satisfaction in the organization. This role has ultimate accountability for the services meeting customer needs. Anyone functioning in this role should understand how they contribute to the success of the IT organization and the business. The return on investment associated with ensuring the Service Owner has the appropriate skills and abilities is significant as it helps to strengthen the relationship with the business by ensuring the service and the service performance is aligned with the needs of the business.
ITIL® is a Registered Trade Mark of AXELOS Limited
At AdOPT, we are transformation consultants focused on IT strategy, innovation, process, and culture change to improve efficiency, increase effectiveness, and optimize costs. We wrote the book on organizational change for IT. For more information, contact us at 520-591-2427 or by email at email@example.com.