Leveraging Your BRM Capability with ITIL® Service Portfolio Management Process

Posted | Category: BRM Capability | Contributed

Like all capabilities, a Business Relationship Management (BRM) capability can benefit from integrating with other frameworks.

Within IT, IT Service Management (ITSM) best practices align naturally with a BRM capability, as they focus on processes and techniques that help drive innovation and business value results. This alignment between ITSM and BRM is further evidenced in the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework used extensively in ITSM, which includes a BRM practice.

The ITIL framework consists of five Service Lifecycle stages, including Strategy, Design, Transition, Operations, and Continual Service Improvement. ITIL has defined the BRM role to work within and across each of the Lifecycle stages.


The SPM process acts as both gatekeeper and monitor for service and technology investments, while BRM provides the business partner interface.

As defined by BRM Institute, business relationship management “stimulates, surfaces, and shapes business demand for a provider’s products and services and ensures that the potential business value from those products and services is captured, optimized, and recognized.” This definition implies the BRM role is both strategic and tactical, with multiple roles assuming the skills of the BRM in the respective areas of business—from ensuring business strategy to ensuring business value results.

Although the alignment between ITIL and BRM is vast, this article focuses on the BRM role that has a relationship with the Service Portfolio Management (SPM) process in the ITIL framework.

Part of the Service Strategy Lifecycle stage, SPM is a process that focuses on ensuring an organization can manage costs and risks associated with a Service Portfolio, while meeting the performance expectations of its partners. The SPM process acts as both gatekeeper and monitor for service and technology investments, while BRM provides the business partner interface. The interplay between these two areas is perhaps the most critical combination in the ITIL framework.

SPM: The Role of the Gatekeeper

In the role of gatekeeper, SPM manages the part of the Service Portfolio called the service pipeline and requires all major requests to services (additions, modifications, or decommissioning) to go through a rigorous vetting and review process. This intake process requires a formal business case be submitted, analyzed, and approved in alignment with IT/business strategy.

This process supports Business Relationship Management Institute’s Business IQ competency and is a key part of the value management process, while also supporting the Portfolio Management competency. With SPM providing this process control in collaboration with BRM, the tactical BRM role can focus their efforts to guide and navigate requests through the SPM process with the business team.

A second aspect of the SPM gatekeeper role is being the expert in knowing which service capabilities are available in both the service pipeline and the service catalog. This is beyond the ability of BRM, which is focused on business strategy and ensuring business value results. As a first step, SPM and Solution Architects will evaluate each major business request to make use of existing solutions where possible. This is critical to value realization, in which extending the use of existing solutions can increase the value proposition by being utilized across the enterprise by multiple business areas.

SPM: The Role of Service Monitor

In the role of monitoring services, SPM is a willing partner to BRM in providing the process and tools necessary to track and link business drivers with technology. This aligns with BRM Institute’s discovery technique for strategic relationship management and allows BRMs to have value-based versus solution-based discussions with their business partners.

In collaboration with BRM, SPM defines and manages several strategic service artifacts that clarify this linking of business drivers with technology, including service models, service charters, and links to business outcomes. These outputs allow BRM to focus on business innovation and business value results, while SPM provides the structure and tools to store the outcomes from such discussions.

The second aspect of the SPM role as a monitor of services ensures that structured reviews for all services are regularly done to confirm their value proposition and to remove redundancies.


Wherever a service supports more than one business partner and BRM, SPM can act as the consolidation point for these strategic reviews to assess the overall service value.

This reflects the reality that service value changes over time and that value is in the eyes of business. BRMs carry out this review with their business partner as part of a value realization effort, in keeping with the BRM Institute solution-based discussion in the discovery technique for linking business drivers with technology.

Furthermore, wherever a service supports more than one business partner and BRM, SPM can act as the consolidation point for these strategic reviews to assess the overall service value.

SPM: The Role of Service Innovator

The final role of SPM is that of identifying services requiring ideation and innovation. BRMs ensure that this activity occurs on a regular basis, but there must be a process approach for selecting the appropriate services and for allocating available resources.

This ideation and value planning is another part of the value management process. As before, SPM can provide this ideation and value planning effort while BRMs focus on discussing the outcomes and implications with their business partners.

There are many other areas where an ITSM practice—ITIL® in particular—can benefit a BRM capability both strategically and tactically. It pays dividends to be aware of such frameworks and help power your BRM team with structured process partners.

Graham Furnis is a Project and Service Management professional with 30+ years of experience in business and IT. As a management consultant with Pink Elephant, Graham brings a wealth of perspectives gained in frontline experiences across a variety of industries and disciplines. Graham’s thought leadership has been directed towards developing IT Service Management (ITSM) project methodologies, templates, courses, articles, and key industry presentations.

Graham’s professional experience encompasses the following disciplines: project management, process management, process design, process implementation, organizational change, business analysis, systems analysis, object-oriented application development, relational database design and administration, operations management, and staff management.

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