[email protected]: Taking BRM to the Next Level
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.’
Three Main Goals
- To assess attendees’ current BRM maturity and capabilities
- To experiment with applying some of the theory covered in the conference
- To identify actions that attendees can bring to their organizations
In my role as CEO of [email protected], 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!”
[email protected] 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.
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.
In keeping with BRM Institute’s commitment to providing a conference tailored to attendees’ needs, input for the [email protected] 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 [email protected] workshop, these in particular provided some of the core tenets needed to understand the workshop’s takeaways in context.
The [email protected] 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.
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 ‘[email protected]’ business and IT alignment simulation game, commonly used to explore the role of the BRM.