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Effective Business Partnering - Aligning IT with the Business

17 Aug 2019 14:30 | Anonymous

“I wish my IT business partner would work with us to find technology solutions to our business requirements instead of trying to convince us that we need to modify our requirements to match what they plan to deliver.”

I have heard this time and again from a lot of business stakeholders. This is exactly the reason that most organisations employ Business Relationship Managers (BRMs).

An IT Business Relationship Manager (BRM) is usually a senior-level, strategic business partner who shares ownership for business strategy and business value using IT as an enabler. A BRM works to identify ways in which IT function can support and advance the business objectives.

Based on my experience as a BRM in the public and FMCG’s sector, the role of the BRM is crucial to the alignment of IT with the business.

Role of the BRM

In my role as Head of IT and Geographic IT Account Manager (GITAM) I acted as theliaison between the IT organization and the business, most BRMs are typically employed by the IT organization and matrixed to a business area or function. Recently we see a shift where the BRM reports directly to the function and is dotted line to IT. Either way the industry describes the role as theprimary contact for the business function, an ambassador, translator, diplomat, straddling IT and the business.

BRM Maturity Path

The BRM Maturity path helps understand the maturity of the relationship between IT BRM and the Business function they support. This is not about the maturity of your role as a BRM , this is about the maturity of the Business Partnering relationship. The basic principle is that as alignment and trust improve with your stakeholder, the role of the BRM becomes much stronger and influential. Also note that the lower levels of the path need to be in place for the higher levels to be achieved – if the help desk is broken, you can’t get to the next level. The aim is to be a trusted IT adviser to your stakeholders.

BRM top 5 Competencies

  • 1.     Strategy Management -The vision of the function / IT in the organisation , the long term plans that support it and the skills to identify the opportunity and threats. In my case I was focused on Marketing which included (Brand Marketing, Trade Marketing and Marketing strategy, planning and insights SP&I). I was responsible to ensure enabled speed to market for my organisation.
  • 2.     Relationship Management - Identifying key stakeholders, establishing strong working relationships and working to a plan. As a BRM my key skill was to build relationships and influence my stakeholders. I always say the one key thing you must be is an influencer, influencing senior management to buy in to IT solutions, influencing your team to deliver OTIF and influencing your users to use the enabled solutions to add value to the organisation as a whole.
  • 3.     Value Management - Closing the gap between the business outcomes and the technology enablers. I always asked the question what value the IT strategy/ portfolio is adding to the marketing function and how do I ensure that this value is measurable and impacts the bottom-line positively

4.     Portfolio Management - Defining the portfolio of initiatives and making effective decisions to reflect the strategy that has been agreed between IT and its stakeholders

5.     Organisational Change - The ability to identify required changes to technology, people and processes and prepare the organisation for the transition.

If you are a BRM or thinking of becoming one, remember It isn’t easy, but it is well worth it! Begin with small steps and always keep in mind that there is a lot of training /support out there for you.

For training check out Learning Tree international  Business Relationship Management: Aligning IT and the Business course https://www.learningtree.co.uk/ @

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