Grab@Pizza: Taking BRM to the Next Level

Posted | Category: BRM Community | Contributed

At BRMConnect Amsterdam, Paul Wilkinson challenged the team by playing the Grab@Pizza business simulation game through his role as CEO.

The fourth and final international BRMConnect conference of 2016 kicked off with a refreshing approach of asking the audience what they wanted to take away from the conference, so that the speakers could better tailor their messages to meet attendees’ needs. In particular, delegates pondered over the challenges that keep them awake at night.

Vaughan Merlyn presented what I considered to be very worrying results of the exercise, which showed that 50% of delegates were new to BRM and were struggling with the clarity of the role, organizational confidence in the role, and organizational readiness to embrace the BRM capability.

On the other hand, the remaining 50% reported being ‘buried’ in tactical issues and struggling to get the business partner to think strategically, let alone raise the BRM role from that of an ‘order taker’ to a ‘strategic partner.’

Why Were These Results Worrying?
Business and IT “alignment” (convergence) is still a top C-level concern, according to industry surveys. With the growing demand for digital transformation, the BRM capability is becoming critical, but it seems that we still have a long way to go. Jon Baxter, another conference presenter, also revealed that his surveys show that value management is one of the lowest-scoring capabilities, which requires a shift in maturity for both business and IT.
With the growing demand for digital transformation, the BRM capability is becoming critical, but it seems that we still have a long way to go.
The conference was a mix of presentations and workshops, and GamingWorks (working in tandem with Baxter Thompson Associates and Instrumental BRM) was delighted to be asked to perform a Grab@Pizza business simulation as the final workshop.
The Grab@Pizza Business Simulation Game

Three Main Goals

  1. To assess attendees’ current BRM maturity and capabilities
  2. To experiment with applying some of the theory covered in the conference
  3. To identify actions that attendees can bring to their organizations

In my role as CEO of Grab@Pizza, I first confronted the team with some statistics.

“For two days, I have sat here and listened about value creation and the BRM as a strategic partner, but I’ve hardly heard anybody talk about value leakage. More than 70% of the money spent on IT does not deliver the value hoped for, and billions of dollars are lost every year due to outages and downtime…if you want me to see you as a trusted and credible strategic partner, first show me how you’re going to put a stop to all of this value leakage!

Grab@Pizza: The Scenario

Grab@Pizza is a very successful company selling millions of pizzas every year, but after six months into the current year, the sales figures are far below expectations. IT is posing a significant business risk due to excessive down time and its inability to respond to changing business needs (Risk Optimization).

However, the CEO has urged the business managers to make a challenging recovery plan, which is based on a six-month strategy to bring the sales and profit back on target (Value Optimization). Existing IT capabilities are poor, and resources are tied up in ‘keeping the lights on’ rather than supporting and enabling new innovations. In order to execute the strategic plan and effectively balance resources (Resource Optimization), the IT department must ensure that the appropriate capabilities, including BRM, are in place.

What Happened?

Remember the challenges mentioned at the start of this article? Role clarity? Organizational confidence in the role?

Through the simulation, we learned the importance of understanding the strategy/outcomes needed by the business (business acumen), the impact of outages, the dangers of operating in silos, and the critical nature of agreeing on the BRM’s role and responsibilities between IT and the business.

In addition, the team recognized the need for the BRM to connect people and orchestrate improvements by using communication and influencing skills, along with using business IQ to ensure the complete end-to-end focus on value.

The Takeaways

Gather Business IQ

Understand the impact of outages in business terms, along with the outcomes the business needs to achieve. Share this information with IT (all ITSM processes).


that the BRM gets the ‘mandate’ to operate, or claim this by using Business IQ and quick wins to gain credibility and visibility.

Seek out

CSI (Continual Service Improvement) owners and work with them to bring business IQ into CSI prioritization.


this exercise to explore and agree upon role clarity, ownership, and issues to be solved. This gives BRMs input into a roadmap for raising the profile and maturity of the BRM capability.


visibility and transparency using facts to support and enable decision-making, from internal IT reports and metrics to business-focused reporting.

Identify and agree upon

undesirable behaviors you currently experience, as well as the desirable behaviors you need to realize on a role-to-role basis. Afterwards, help ensure that skills and capabilities develop.

Work together

with those who have the right skills. (For example, use the CSI manager to facilitate a strategic improvement workshop if you don’t have the skills yet. Remember to “connect and orchestrate”—you don’t have to do it all).


the role of the BRM, and clarify the roles of your business and IT partners in relation to BRM together.


workshops to address role clarity and identify improvements.

Conference Influence

In keeping with BRM Institute’s commitment to providing a conference tailored to attendees’ needs, input for the Grab@Pizza workshop came from the following presenters:

  • Mark Smalley, who shed light on desired behaviors between business and IT, such as business acumen
  • Robina Chatham, who led an interactive exercise that showcased how decision-making is based primarily on opinions, perceptions, and politics, rather than facts exclusively
  • Stephen Hinde, who presented the Cargill perspective on the elements of trust and their importance when moving from being an order taker to a strategic partner
  • Elka Schrijver, who identified one of the risks and critical success factors related to introducing a BRM capability as “gaining buy-in for the role from the business and IT partners”
  • Richard Pharro, who presented a future in which both technology and BRM are crucial in reshaping organizations and the way business is done

While many other sessions influenced the development of this conference’s Grab@Pizza workshop, these in particular provided some of the core tenets needed to understand the workshop’s takeaways in context.

The Grab@Pizza session is normally a one-day exercise that can be played with IT and business representatives. However, these were the results of a mere two-hour “taster session,” which clearly shows how this type of experiential learning can help translate BRM theory into practical takeaway actions.

The Grab@Pizza session clearly shows how this type of experiential learning can help translate BRM theory into practical takeaway actions.

Certified Grab@Pizza BRM Delivery Partners

UK, Europe – Baxter & Thompson     USA, Canada – Instrumental BRM     South Africa – IT Winners     India – TaUB Solutions

Paul Wilkinson has been working in the IT industry for 30+ years, with a focus on business-IT convergence. He is the owner of GamingWorks, which developed the renowned ‘Grab@Pizza’ business and IT alignment simulation game, commonly used to explore the role of the BRM.

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