6 Business Skills Everybody Needs (Not Just IT)

Posted | Category: BRM Capability | Contributed

Often, IT is seen as if it has the unique business skills needed to influence systems of engagement (commerce sites, mobile apps, etc.) in ways that other groups can’t. Recently, however, this perspective has begun to shift.

Increasingly, CEOS, engineers, and finance, sales, and HR professionals are emphasizing that these business partnership skills are not exclusively reserved for IT business partners—they transcend roles and industries both inside and outside of organizations. As I write this in my role as board chair of BRM Institute, this development is especially timely because people worldwide are hungry to make a stronger impact within their companies and companies with which they partner in success.

Become One of the Willing

You might say that I myself became one of the willing. By challenging the status quo and thinking, “What if these folks are right?” I began exploring the core principles of the IT business relationship manager role to see which common threads exist and which of those transcend roles and industries.

As I spoke to people across multiple industries, it became clear that professionals outside of IT stand to benefit significantly from learning about and implementing business relationship management skills in their respective roles and companies.

While every professional brings their unique spin on what they do for a company, here are six common threads that work across roles, departments, and industries:

Common Threads

1. Company Strategy

There is little chance you’ll help your company reach its goals if you haven’t taken the time to learn the strategy and the imperatives that drive it. It’s hard to describe yourself as a business-savvy leader if you don’t know what to prioritize. As a BRM, knowing which initiatives and investments will help your company meet its goals is fundamental to ensuring success.

2. Know Your Customers

When is the last time you talked to a customer? The more you engage with them, the better you’ll understand what it takes to engage them. In today’s market, customers have more influence over products, services, and pricing than ever before. Chances are, the company strategy centers on acquiring and retaining customers—and the more you know about what engages them, the more you can influence their engagement as a whole.

3. Savvy Investments

There are always more ideas than people or resources to execute them. Understanding the value of an investment is core to bringing the right investments forward. BRMs must be skilled at articulating the value of an investment. The right investments drive both company strategy and customer engagement, and the best BRMs make sure they do.

4. Manage Change

Become one of the willing. Change is inevitable–but as a BRM, you can lead the way. It starts with personal accountability, meaning you do what it takes to get the job done. You work through obstacles when they get in your way, you accept the consequences of your actions, and you continuously strive to improve and apply the lessons learned from your mistakes. For more on what it takes, read this powerful definition of personal accountability.

5. Understand the Customer Journey

Step out of your world and into your customer’s experience. Look at all the customer touch points from websites, mobile solutions, customer service and support, product delivery, and more. Take a keen interest in understanding how customers view each touch point. Are those “moments of truth” enhancing their experience—or pushing them away towards your competitors? For more, check out this pioneer in the field of the customer journey.

6. Ensuring Results

For decades, business practitioners have brainstormed new ideas and built business cases to gain the financial support needed to move strategy to business capabilities. Few have followed through optimizing results against the business case, ensuring maximized business results. As a BRM, leverage a value plan as defined by BRM Institute and share ownership of business results and ensuring optimized business results.

Regardless of industry or role, the threads that bind BRMs are the same, beginning with business strategy and customers. The two are intrinsically linked. It is your job as a BRM to understand the intersection between them and make sure that the investments you champion drive the right value equation.

When you do this routinely, the results are powerful. Putting yourself in your customer’s shoes gives you keen insight into their journey and shows which investments will make it easier for customers to do business with your company.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn and has been edited and republished with permission of the author.

Joe Topinka is a recognized, game-changing CIO, executive coach, and bestselling author of IT Business Partnerships: A Field Guide. His IT Business Partner Program™ drives exponential business results consistently across industries by bridging the chasm between business stakeholders and IT organizations. He is the founder of CIO Mentor, LLC and a board chair of Business Relationship Management Institute (BRM Institute). Joe is a two-time CIO of the Year award winner in both Minneapolis and Charlotte.

One Response

  1. Colin says:

    Please send me more info so that I am able find ways of becoming a better business manager..
    Thank You..

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