Business Relationship Management

This is an excerpt, you will find more detailed descriptions in the book.

Business Relationship Management is the process which helps the Business Relationship Manager to provide a link between the IT department and the business at strategic and tactical level. The ultimate confirmation that this works is satisfied customers.

Customer refers to the person in the business who has the mandate to decide on and finance the delivery of IT services. This role is usually staffed by a business manager with responsibility for a part of the business.

A condition for this process to function is that the customer role is identified and accepted. In most companies and organizations, the customer role can be identified by following the money. Business line managers with their own budget responsibility where IT is a part of the budget, should be regarded as customers.

Larger organizations sometimes have business line managers without a mandate to influence the content in the IT services. However, such managers can make choices based on existing IT services and have a dialogue about how they can use the services optimally for their operations. This role is defined as purchaser.

One example is a company which determines and finances its IT services at division level. The business department managers within the division are then permitted to conduct their own dialogue with the IT department and order the IT services that are appropriate for their operations. The divisional manager is then the customer and each business line manager is a purchaser.

The reason that these roles are defined differently is that the IT organization should be helped to manage the right question with the right person. For example, a new IT service can be prepared with a purchaser, but for decisions it must be addressed as a business issue to the customer. The objective of identifying customers and purchasers is that these should reflect the business’s existing decision hierarchy.

Purpose

The primary purpose of the process is to understand the business’s need for IT and ensure that the IT services delivered correspond to this need. Furthermore, the aim of the process is to ensure a high level of customer satisfaction. This is achieved through:

  • Establishing and maintaining a good relationship with the customer
  • Identifying changes in the customer’s operations that can affect the delivery of IT services
  • Identifying new technology that can streamline the delivery of IT services to the customer
  • Identifying and establishing requirements for new or changed IT services
  • Ensuring that the IT delivery meets the business’s requirements
  • Agreeing together with the customer on service levels and ensuring that they provide a value for the business
  • Establishing a formal route for escalation to the IT steering group

Scope

The process comprises adaptation of the IT organization’s activities based on the business’s objectives. Succeeding in this requires an understanding of:

  • Which result the business wants to achieve
  • Current range of IT services
  • How the customers use IT services
  • How IT services are delivered, including service levels and capacity
  • Trends within IT which can affect the delivery to the customers
  • Level of customer satisfaction and initiative to improve the delivery
  • Potential efficiencies for the customer

The above points make it clear that Business Relationship Management has a similar scope to several other processes within the IT department. For example, the connection between the business’s objectives and the IT services that are delivered are a part of the Service Portfolio Management and Service Catalogue Management, which provide existing IT services, and also Management of Service Levels, which comprises agreed and actual service levels.

To avoid creating confusion within the organization, it is important that there is a clear difference between Business Relationship Management and the other processes. The difference is that Business Relationship Management focuses on the customer perspective, and the actual relationship between the IT department and the business, while other processes are focused on the IT services and that they meet the agreed requirements.

Activities

Business Relationship Management is not a process in the sense that the activities have to be followed from start to finish, but it is rather a number of activities that need to be implemented. The activities included are described below in a flow in order to make it structurally simpler, but also as a proposal for a work schedule.

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