THE COMPETENCIES WE LOOK FOR
While the tools and techniques that are necessary to enable a BRM function may already exist – in one form or another – within your organisation, how can you be sure they are being delivered consistently and to the same standard across your business? Our Reconnaissance for IT framework offers a clear guide to learning and applying the Management Skills > that an effective BRM will need.
"Influencing Skills"the Influencing Skills >.
TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES
We believe these are essential skills for an effective IT Business Relationship Manager
How does the business "make money"? More >
IT Service Insight
Understanding the value of the IT function. More >
Telling the business how good the IT function is and what that means for the business. More >
Business Transition Management
Ability to identify required changes to technology, people and processes. More >
Strategic Relationship Management
Identifying key stakeholders and establishing strong working relationships and defining a plan. More >
Defining the business case, project brief and initiatives that contribute to the business strategy porfolio. More >
Portfolio Management and Governance
Defining the portfolio of initiatives and the relative priority to enable delivery of the strategy. More >
Baxter Thompson Associates can help you improve these in-house competencies by profiling and identifying individuals (within your organisation or recruiting externally) who would make an ideal BRM. We can then provide the necessary, pre-requisite training that will help the BRM deliver these capabilities across your organisation.
1: Business Insight
A 'Business Insight' capability means you have a fundamental understanding of how the business itself "makes money". This might seem simple, however it requires a deep appreciation of the organisation's major capabilities. It means you need to have a clear understanding of the revenue streams, the markets and the basic business model. It means you need to have a 360o view of how money, information and people 'flow' between the various functions of the organisation when delivering those services. In other words, you need a map of the business.
Fundamental to understanding what the 'future-state vision' of each stakeholder's own business function looks like, it's key to know:
• how do they view the IT function?
• what are their own long-term business goals?
• what capabilities do they need in general?
• and how can the IT function specifically help them achieve their objectives?
Why it's important
A 'Business Insight' capability is vital because you can only truly value the services provided by IT, if you appreciate how they ultimately help your business "make money".
Your perception needs to shift from finding a problem for the solution (technical viewpoint) to finding a solution to the problem (business viewpoint). So, start with "what problem are you trying to solve?"
As a result, a strategic 'roadmap' will develop over time. It will become a key benefit of the business relationship management role.
2: IT Service Insight
'IT Service Insight' is about understanding – and defining – the true value of the IT function in your organisation.This includes defining:
• What the services are
• Thier relevance - "Utility" and "Warranty"
• How they are delivered
• What resources, policies and processes are there to support them
It also includes defining the relevant 'service metrics' that measure the specific criteria that have an impact on business outcomes (revenue)
As a result the business partner will be able to see a direct correlation between the company's objectives and the company's IT service.
Why it's important
Having realistic expectations of the service that your existing IT function can deliver, means an informed discussion can take place between all stakeholders.
This discussion can then go in a number of different ways:
• What trends in the payments industry are taking place today?
• Is technology having an impact on them?
• Does the business see an opportunity in leveraging new technology and how does that help the business achieve its goals?
Conversely, if the 'business partner' used the service as a cost and wants it reduced, then the impact and related risks can be clearly outlined to the business.
3: Organisation Communication
Organisation Communication is about addressing the need for the business partner to understand the impact the IT function is having on the business.
Examples include regular bulletins on:
• what successes have been achieved within specific projects
• how those success have helped the business
Communication can be achieved through:
• knowledge sharing of new capabilities and services that are available via IT
• regular one to one meetings with key influencers
• maintaining an intranet site where information on performance metrics and project status is readily accessible to staff and 'business partners'
Why it's important
Establishing credibility amongst peers goes a long way to creating strong, strategic relationships where the conversation can move away from cost – and perceived project delays – to how IT can work differently to help achieve business outcomes.
Key points: Communicate early, execute according to the communication and re-communicate the fact of the delivery.
4: Strategic Relationship Management
Strategic Relationship Management means being able to identify the key influencers who will be, or are, responsible for driving demand of IT services.
As well as finance and human resources stakeholders, include those heads of department who have the biggest impact on achieving the overall company objectives.
Fundamental is understanding the stakeholder. What their priorities are, what they are passionate about, their expectations of IT and their level of trust.
Why it's important
A Strategic Relationship plan agreed with the stakeholders on how the relationship can improve from a state of distrust to partnership needs to be established.
Reviewing and updating this plan regularly means that the relationship can be tracked and the benefits of a more capable organisation can be witnessed.
Such benefits are:
- being engaged early in the idea phase
- consultation on decisions that impact IT
- better expectation setting
- better understanding of the contributory role of IT.
5: Value Management
Competency definedValue Management is the process of taking an idea in its raw form and shaping it into a well-defined business case that includes project plans, deliverables, products and solution design.
A significant portion of time is usually spent on understanding the benefits of the solution and how it contributes to the business strategy and the associated risks. Together, they make it a clear whether an initiative will have value or not.
Why it's important
The ability to dentify the value of an initiative, in considering the overall strategic roadmap, enables an informed decision when deciding which initiatives to include in the business portfolio.
Clarity on business strategy and clarity on the value added by the initiative helps to keep an organisation focused. This can mean a business is far more likely to achieve its strategic objectives and help decision making
6: Porfolio Management & Governance
Competency definedThis is about the management of the 'portfolio of initiatives' and the governance of ongoing company projects and programmes.
Key point: This capability relys on the BRM being able to identify the value of each initiative and understand how it contributes to the overarching business strategy. The stakeholders who influence that strategy, then form part of the decision-making process that reviews the progress of these initiatives.
This is similar to monitoring an investment portfolio on the stock market. Which combination of activities will provide the investor with the highest rate of return?
Why it's important
As organisations grow, sight of the business outcomes becomes weaker. Different functions interpret the company strategy in different ways. This can sometimes lead to conflicts of interest and a company-wide plan can present a confusing picture to a service provider who is struggling to fulfil demand.
If there is no governance in place then the IT function is left exposed to whatever political ' storm' happens to be blowing through the organisation at any particular point ie. "he who shouts loudest" tends to take precedence.
7: Business Transition Management
Competency definedBusiness Transition Management identifies the changes that are required not only to technology, but also to people and processes. This is not uniquely about change management (which includes the broader remix of attitudes, behaviours, values and culture). It is also about assessing the impact on roles, responsibilities, training and process design in order to get the best use out of the technology.
Why it's important
Stakeholders tend to focus on the tip of the iceberg, or the 'shining light' of for example, technology. If Business Transition Management is not taken into account, then the success of the implementation will be severely put at risk as people and processes have not been considered sufficently.
Simply put, being able to deliver the value of your investment in technology depends to a high degree on how people and which people use it.
SOFT SKILLS: PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES
Mapping a business and technology innovation. The focus is on the end customer and the users – and on the outcomes associated with the services they are offered. The ability to map these two elements to technology – and create a plan that demonstrates how technology will both add value to the customer and deliver the business strategy – is a fundamental requisite of an effective Business Relationship Manager.
An ability to decompose a set of seemingly unrelated features, circumstances, events and requirements, and subsequently identify the real problem that needs solving. It means being able to ask the right questions, being inquisitive and understanding why. These all help compose a picture that shows the problem's structure and its root causes, leading to a potential solution – which may not necessarily be technology based.
The ability to vision the future state together with other stakeholders require creativity and the ability to picture different scenarios of what could be achieved.
The ability to collaborate and work as a team with other stakeholders. The ability to negotiate, influence and agree over different viewpoints, work jointly to shared goals. It is not simply about communicating but proactively seeking out opinion, promoting services and capabilities.
Being able to proactively seek out new information in a broader environment rather than focusing only on the silo of knowledge that exists within a particular IT domain.
Gathering company-wide knowledge means the BRM will have a picture of a) the business environment - threats, opportunities; and b) the strengths and weaknesses of the business itself.
The ability to develop different scenarios based on different:
• constraints or
• investment decisions but still be able to formulate ideas that can provide a solution. Creating the scope for an initiative.
Source:Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath
SOFT SKILLS: RELATIONSHIP SKILLS
An ability to reflect on what other people accurately perceive about one’s own personality, strengths and weaknesses. It will help the BRM to understand their limits.
No one person will have the full set of pre-requisite capabilities to an advanced level.
It means being able to identify where complimentary skills or expertise exist within the business and establishing a working relationship with those individuals that then delivers a required capability.
This is an advanced state where an individual is able to understand how they react to:
• different situations
• different people
And understand how they behave when they are under stress or not. This understanding helps the BRM to identify which behaviours benefit a relationship or not – and how those behaviours can be moderated depending on the circumstances. It means being able to relate to another person and make them feel comfortable when working together. It creates a trusting environment and establishes personal credibility for a BRM. This is a fundamental requirement for strategic relationship management.
Being 'politically aware' means a BRM is be able to understand what drives and motivates other people. Being aware of an individual's personal values, needs and wants means a BRM will be able to understand the agenda behind certain actions and statements.
On this basis, shared goals are easier to achieve .
This capability can be subject to abuse. It can be taken advantage of by others, so creating trust and credibility requires adult, open and honest interactions.
It's important for a BRM to have the aptitude and motivation to "reach out to other people", to be able to perceive their thoughts, feelings and emotions.
This is separate to being task, process or technology focused.
A Business Relationship Manager tends to operate within a very dynamic environment. Movements in one direction can quickly be offset by movements in another.
Persistence comes from having a clear direction and focus. When an initiative is successfully delivered persistence, even when "the goal posts move", is usually identified as a key reason for that success.
EXCELLENT PERSONAL COMMUNICATIONThis ability relies on:
• the art of reading body language
• the art of listening; and
• the art of persuasion
This is much more than just being able to give a good presentation or write a report. This means the BRM should be able to transfer an idea accurately from his mind to the stakeholders, so that they then share the same passion.
If you like the sound of our approach and would like to set up an initial consultation, we'd love to talk to you.