The Power of Three: Tips for Success for BRMs, by BRMs

Posted | Category: BRM Capability | Contributed

The first in our newest article series, “The Power of Three: Tips for Success for BRMs, by BRMs,” Will Stratton discusses three ways he maximizes value in his relationships with business partners.

Managing relationships: as a BRM, it’s what we do. It’s in our name.

But what are some ways we can ensure that we maximize the value of our relationships? Below are three tips I use to bring value while building and maintaining my business partner relationships.

Tip #1: Develop a relationship cadence

While scheduling structured meetings with your business partners on a regular basis seems obvious, I’ve encountered BRMs both inside and outside of my company who say things like, “I meet with my business partners once in a while,” or “We meet when my business partners want to meet.” Hard to harvest value from a relationship when you never see each other!

Be aware, however, that meeting for the sake of just meeting can erode the value you are trying to create as a BRM. We want every encounter with our business partners to add value, so make sure you work with your business partners to establish the structure of the meetings, what will be discussed, and the appropriate cadence for doing so. Not only will meetings be more productive, but you will demonstrate your commitment to fostering a relationship that leads to strategic partnership.

Tip #2: Schedule spontaneity

Seems like an oxymoron, right? How can you schedule spontaneity? Didn’t I just discuss the value of developing a relationship cadence?

What this tip suggests is more “schedule your own spontaneity” to allow time for “unstructured” interactions with your business partners. For example, I have a business partner who likes to walk around our campus. I know when he does this, so if I “spontaneously” show up at his office before he’s ready to head out on his walk, I can walk with him and we have time for unstructured conversation. Sometimes it’s about work, and other times it’s not—but either way, it helps build our relationship.

Again, we want our interactions (structured and otherwise) to add value, so don’t be a pest! Make sure to figure out the right amount of scheduled spontaneity that works for you.

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We want every encounter with our business partners to add value, so make sure you work with your business partners to establish the structure of the meetings, what will be discussed, and the appropriate cadence for doing so.

Tip #3: Bring them together now and then

This may depend on where your organization falls in the Business Relationship Maturity model. In my company, we are at the Service Provider level and are making headway to move up to Trusted Advisor, which is challenging for me as I straddle the role of “tactical” BRM and trying to become a more “strategic” BRM.

Business Relationship Maturity Model
Source: BRM Institute

In an effort to ensure that I’m not the “single point of contact” for the business—but rather the “single point of focus”—one thing I try to do at least once or twice a year is bring some front-line business partners face-to-face with front-line IT resources. Agenda-wise, I typically have the business explain how they use the systems in their day-to-day work (or some other business-related topic).

The value of facilitating this face-to-face meeting is tremendous. Feedback from both IT and the business has been very positive. Not only does it increase the business acumen of IT and help to build and grow that “tactical” relationship between business and IT, but it frees up my time to focus on more strategic activities.

While building and maintaining valuable relationships takes work, I’ve seen my own relationships with business partners grow stronger with these tips. What tips and tactics have moved you along the path towards becoming a strategic partner?

Will Stratton is an IT business relationship manager at Chevron. He is based in California.

You can read more from Will here.

3 Responses

  1. Kip Fanta says:

    Will – love these very good and practical tips. All three are ‘spot on’, and any BRM would get huge value in ensuring they are doing these things. To build on the third one, these type of meetings can be very inspiring to the more ‘internal provider’ resources who sometimes are not as close to the front lines. So I’ll bring the others working with the business, but then also use it to reinforce to the key leaders in service, operations, etc…why their work is so important. Truly a great forum to move the ‘convergence’ further along. Great article…thanks.

  2. Julio Moran says:

    Will, thanks for sharing.

    Tip#2 is a very good one, we can also build trust through “unstructured” interactions with your business partners. Sometimes talking about his/her favorite soccer team (for example) or any other topic helps build our relationship.

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