simple processes

Simplify. But Never Oversimplify.

About Glenn Remoreras

Leader in Process and IT domain, strategist and experienced Business Relationship Manager. Brings over 15 years of experience in IT management. Possesses extensive expertise in business process and application management, technology services, organizational transformation and program management. Significant experience in large scale IT program direction and execution. Has numerous international experience, having led teams in Asia Pacific, Europe, Mexico and United States.

Book Review – Business Relationship Management for the Digital Enterprise

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Vaughan Merlyn’s new book Business Relationship Management for the Digital Enterprise is a very important book for a strong BRM advocate, IT leader and practicing BRM like me.

I am honored to get an invitation from Vaughan Merlyn to review his new book because:

  • I admire Vaughan as a mentor and a good friend. I am one of the early followers of his blog – IT Organization Circa 2017. I met him through virtual collaboration in blog space. He eventually introduced me to Business Relationship Management. What I learned from Vaughan transformed my IT career and allowed me to transition to the IT leader that I am today from an IT manager.
  • I like that Vaughan is so humble and generous with his knowledge and wisdom. He willingly imparts them to a global audience through his blog and eventually through the BRM Institute as a co-founder and through this new book. I have benefited from learning from the master. If the content from his blog is any indication, this will truly be a remarkable book, full of insights to help BRMs, business and IT leaders navigate IT changing landscape.
  • This book is very timely. Digital transformation offers IT organizations the unique opportunity to create value by becoming digital change agents for the enterprise. I believe BRM is the key lever of strategic speed for IT organizations and business. BRMs are “the oil to the machine” that reduces organizational friction and allows new culture and digital enterprises to flourish.

Why behind BRM

What a way to open the book with an explanation behind how IT management approaches are shifting and requiring Business IT convergence. “The revolution in computing platforms inevitably leads to changes in approaches to IT management”. Vaughan has captured the reason for the shift by explaining how advancement in computing platform is driving the evolution of IT and IT management.

2019-10-07 22_51_22-Business Relationship Management for the Digital Enterprise_ Strategies for manaThe exponential development of technology has also made technology easier to use and more accessible. We have gone from an era where only a few people have access to technology, to one where it is virtually in everything we do. In business, this results in IT capabilities becoming more embedded into business capabilities. In the new digital landscape, IT is no longer just a service and a support function; it is a fundamental building block of the business. This is the reason why “Business-IT Maturity is essential for business to evolve”. This maturity model is one reason enough to get a hold of this book. I have seen the Business-IT maturity model many years ago from Vaughan’s blog and listened to him explain it on many occasions in webinars. It is one of the models that opened my eyes to BRM and how important it is to have BRM capability and discipline to advance value creation from IT. This model is essential to explaining the why behind BRM.

IT Leadership for the Digital Business

In his new book, Vaughan was able to present how technology has moved to the center of every business and a critical capability required to today’s competitive landscape. “As the nature of IT changes, roles that were formerly the domain of the IT professional are migrating into the business.” On the other hand, roles that were business focused are being assumed by IT groups: “Portfolio Management, Business Change Consultancy, Business Capability Roadmapping, Demand Management and Business Value Realization”.

Digital transformation offers IT organizations the unique opportunity to create value by becoming digital change agents for the enterprise. But first, we must understand that traditional operating models from the past will not be enough to reshape ways companies exploit technology for competitive advantage. What does it take to have an effective IT leadership for the digital business? In this book, Vaughan shares IT operating models that aim to achieve Business IT Alignment versus a Business-IT Convergence. I have seen no one in the IT management consulting space who has used operating models as brilliantly as Vaughan in providing leadership frameworks that support the ever-changing business landscape. He provides frameworks and practical advice on how to take on leadership role in digital enterprise.

BRMs Stepping into the Digital Leadership Void

Digital transformation is not just about technologies. Existing digital technologies are accessible to all companies. The key is using these technologies to find value at the new frontiers of business. Being digital means not being afraid to use emerging technologies to solve business problems. Being digital requires being innovative and pushing the boundaries even on areas where success is not guaranteed the first time. BRMs have the unique opportunity to step into the digital leadership void because they have a deep understanding of the business, its ecosystem, and the competitive landscape.

Digitization brings with it an important shift in IT leadership challenges, with the BRMs becoming more of a catalyst for digital transformation. This book provides BRMs with a guide to competencies needed to become an effective catalyst: Driving Value Realization, Understanding the Business Environment, Closing Gaps Between IT and its Key Stakeholders, Managing Relationships, Facilitating Organizational Change, Facilitating Major IT Programs, and Providing Financial Expertise. If the BRMs have these competencies, he/she can be an effective management consultant to the business applying different tools and techniques that Vaughan richly covers in his book.

My Conclusion

In this book, Business Relationship Management for the Digital Enterprise, Vaughan Merlyn is spot on about how BRM role and capability will be depended on by today’s emerging digital enterprise in order to demolish barriers and facilitate business IT convergence. This book is a must read for all BRMs, those aspiring for the role and organizations considering introduction of BRM. This is also a great book CIOs, Business executives and IT leaders. On a personal note, this is well worth the read for me as it gave me new perspectives of Vaughan as a musician and artist and how he has use it as inspiration in his work.

Vaughan Merlyn

Learning “Future IT” from Digital Natives

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Digital transformation offers IT organizations the unique opportunity to create value by becoming digital change agents for the enterprise.

Early in my career as a young technology professional, I asked why our IT organization often changed. It changed more frequently than other functions within the company. Every other year, new methods emerged and new ways of working. Business requirements of technology capabilities evolved as well as capabilities of newer technologies that impact every aspect of the business. And of course, the usual pendulum swing between centralizing and decentralizing management and control of IT, then to shared services and then to outsourcing. Change is still the norm today, only the rate of change is accelerating and intensifying. Exploration of disruptive business models driven by digital capabilities will no longer be the exclusive domain of digital natives but will become the aspiration of traditional companies as well.  As a response to unrelenting forces of disruption, many companies are embarking on this journey. A company’s long-term survival in this new reality relies on digital excellence as the new norm.

What is your business’ toughest challenge? Shifting markets? Stiffening competition? Combined pressure from digital savvy and restless customers? When such challenges intensify, you may need to redesign strategies, reimagine other business possibilities, models, go-to market tactics and outcomes. In recent years, we have seen the effect of Amazon on retail giants like Walmart. In recent months, we have seen healthcare companies like CVS and Aetna looking to merge in order to redefine themselves and combine their capabilities to become stronger. Healthcare companies like CVS and Aetna know that Amazon already has many of the core competencies needed to compete in healthcare, including ready access to capital, a massive distribution infrastructure, a strong technology base, a robust data analytics capability, and a deep, talented executive bench. Companies respond by transforming themselves to abate competition from digital native companies like Amazon. In the future, the question will not be how we transform to become digital natives, as this will be the norm even for traditional companies. How to get there and survive is the tough challenge of today.

Digital transformation offers IT organizations the unique opportunity to create value by becoming digital change agents for the enterprise. But first, we must learn from digital native companies about how to reshape the way our companies manage and exploit technology. What does it take to transform to be the next digital leader in your space? Apart from understanding where you are today, it is also advantageous to investigate blueprints of success. The IT leadership team in my current organization did just that when our CTO Ricardo Bartra took us to Silicon Valley and San Francisco last month to visit Facebook, Google, CISCO Meraki and Salesforce.

  • At Facebook, we saw how the digital native culture looks like in a campus setting supported and enabled by its facilities, people, and ways of working. When Facebook CEO and cofounder Mark Zuckerberg filed for the company’s initial public offering in 2012, he wrote that one of the sayings he and his employees live by is, “The riskiest thing is to take no risks.” “We encourage everyone to make bold decisions, even if that means being wrong some of the time,” he wrote.
  • At Google, we saw that the challenge is not that technology evolves faster but how visionary companies like them understand and capitalize on them by innovating early and often and converting them into a competitive advantage. I saw their pursuit for bleeding edge technology and always looking for what is next. Google strives for continual innovation, not instant perfection. The presenter told us the story of how GMAIL came to be, from a series of prototypes to a subsequent release of a beta version that quickly took off.
  • Walking around the halls of Meraki’s office, you’d be hard-pressed to guess you’re on a Cisco campus. It still feels like a start-up! At Meraki, we saw how employee experience is increasingly dependent on technology. How DevOps teams and engineers can quickly spin off capabilities to support employee experience by enabling applications eliminating the need to buy.
  • At Salesforce, we saw what agile transformation looks like driven by top management. How salesforce has managed its organization transformation focused on agile culture and ways of working, transforming organizations to empowered teams with clear missions. They provided an environment where their employees become more comfortable and develop expertise in navigating fluid structures made up of teams formed from diverse skills and experiences.

IT functions have historically been built based on the context of specific expertise, IT standards (ITIL), Operating Models and proven BPM and BRM approaches. I spent my first 15 years as an IT professional with a global building materials company and understood how to leverage the power of technology. I learned to recognize the importance of process methods and goals in ensuring harmony between processes and technology platforms, speeding up solution deployments, and enabling continuous improvement and innovation; to understand the impact of IT processes in integrating a large acquisition; and to recommend an appropriate model for integrating an acquisition. Much of what I learned from my first 15 years still applies and I believe will apply to the next 15 years. But I also realize that I need to evolve and be “bi-modal”, embracing digitization and agile thinking. This is my focus today and I am happy that this is also the journey my current IT organization is undertaking. I want to be an IT leader that will be adaptive and dynamic in pulling together capacity and competency from a broader range of sources—traditional and future capabilities such as AI, robots, IoT, cloud, blockchain and alike.

Digital Transformation

Digital is “a Way of Doing Business”

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Digital is a fashionable word today in the context of the use of “newer” technologies. In the conferences, webinars and meet ups that I have participated in the last two years, digital has been the buzz word around many presentations. For the longest time, to many of us in technology and engineering, digital simply meant data expressed as a series of the digits 0 and 1, typically represented by values of a physical quantity such as voltage or magnetic polarization. If you ask the question “what is digital” to several people you engage with in business and technology, chances are, you will get varying answers and perspectives.

In the SAPPHIRE technology conference of SAP that I attended this year, the company unveiled Intelligent Suite. They presented a roadmap that did not resemble the roadmap to which we are accustomed. The presenter said that many of their partners have started building industry digital business blueprints that can be applicable to different industries. More often in the past, when software companies launch something, typically they are in the form of or focusing on software packages, applications and platforms. Here the focus is the digital blueprint. I will use this to point out the meaning of digital as it is being implied today. Digital is not the application systems and not even a platform. Digital is not a “thing”, it is not a role, it is not a program– digital is a way of doing business.

If digital is a way of doing business, then what does digital transformation mean to a company. For some businesses, digital allows consumers to have a personalized experience by touching, feeling and understanding products and services. This means understanding customer behaviors and being closely attuned to how customer decision journeys are evolving. USAA did this by using their customers’ life events as the basis of its business architecture design. By integrating its previously separate insurance, banking and investment products around customer life events, USAA was able to deliver a superior customer experience.[1] Essentially in this digital transformation, USAA was able to change their business model from a provider of insurance and banking services to an omnichannel business. They can “own” the customer relationship and create multiple products to address life events. USAA needed more knowledge of the customer as a key capability for this new “way of doing business” to work.

Another company who successfully transformed their “way of doing business” is Aetna. Aetna’s digital transformation allowed them to be a full-service destination for its customers using an integrated platform approach. This allowed the company to shift from a B2B health insurance model to a complete solution.“When we have an integrated, functional health care system that focuses on the chronically ill, on promoting wellness and on payment reform, we will have a system that works and we will have a healthier world,” Aetna Chairman, CEO and President Mark T. Bertolini said.[2]Essentially, Aetna transformed themselves from a healthcare insurance provider to a healthcare platform. By doing this, they became the destination of choice using superior customer experience. From 2009 to 2014, Aetna increased its revenue to more than three times the industry average.

The new “way of doing business” may require transformation in other areas of the business and not just in frontline customer facing capabilities. The advent of digital manufacturing, machine learning, blockchain, intelligent supply chain, and artificial intelligence (A.I.) allow consumers to personalize the design of the products they want based on current trends. As brands in the future will be mainly shaped by consumers, digital as a new way of doing business puts the customer as the point of focus. I personally have difficulty buying shoes that fits me comfortably because I undoubtedly have wider feet than most people. Thanks to NikeiD Custom Shoes, I can now customize my shoes online and have it delivered to me. It is not only the size of the shoes that I can customize, I even have my name on it!

Digital Manufacturing

How digital is changing “way of doing business” is but a logical consequence of what is happening today in modern applications and emerging technologies.

Digital transformation is not really about technologies. Existing digital technologies are accessible to all companies. The key is using these technologies to find value at the new frontiers of business. Being digital means not being afraid to use emerging technologies to solve business problems. Being digital requires being innovative and pushing the boundaries even on areas where success is not guaranteed the first time. “Learn fast and then just move on and find a different way to solve the same problem”, says Bharti Airtel’s Global CIO Harmeen Mehta, winner of the 2018 MIT Sloan CIO. Innovation and transformation are the means to achieve a digital business model using existing and emerging technology platforms. Digital is a shared responsibility between business and IT. There must be convergence of business and IT to drive successful and sustainable digital business transformation.

[1] http://www.misqe.org/ojs2/execsummaries/MISQE_V14I4_Mockeretal_Web.pdf

[2] https://news.aetnafoundation.org/press-release/aetna-releases-aetna-story-2014-building-healthier-world

Changing Business Context, Driving Business – IT Convergence

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There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.  – Victor Hugo

Vaughan Merlyn started working on the concept of Business Relationship Management (BRM) in 1993. BP engaged Vaughan to develop a training program for their new BRM role with Profs. Michael Earl, London Business School, Chris Edwards, Cranfield University and Neo Boon Siong, Nanyang Business School, Singapore. I was introduced to the concept of the BRM role in 2009 while collaborating with Vaughan through our blogs. The time of the BRM idea, nurtured through the years, has come. Many companies are deploying the capability in recent years largely due to the effort of the BRM Institute co-founded by Vaughan, along with Aaron Barnes and Dr. Aleksandr Zhuk in 2013. The BRM Institute has created the BRM Body of Knowledge (BRMBOK) that has since been used as standard for BRM role certifications worldwide. I had the privilege to work with Vaughan, along with other BRM pioneers globally to publish the first version of the BRMBOK in 2014.

Changing Business Context

I was working with a global building materials company at its operations in the Philippines when I started my career in 1997. We deployed a website in 2002 so that our customers can order Cement online. We faced major hurdles in convincing our customers to go online to order. One day, I drove with one of our sales representatives and accompanied him on sales visits. It was on one of our interactions with a customer in a small business location that one store owner asked: “Why can’t I just text my cement orders, why do I have to go online?”. This was the question that led to a simple mobile selling application that we built and deployed later that became more successful than the website. This solution eventually processed around 70% of customer orders. With this crude B2B solution, we also pushed payment reminders to customers and sent warm birthday greetings. As additional context to this successful deployment, during the early 2000s, SMS or Text Messaging became a phenomenon in the Philippines. Literally everyone was texting. The use of SMS technology became pervasive.

Today, we are doing beyond SMS. Information technologies (IT) such as cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), mobile computing, data analytics, 3-D printing, virtual reality, and robotics are transforming industries, economies, and lives around the globe. The number of formerly successful companies being driven to obscurity by agile, tech-savvy competitors and substitute products grows daily. This exponential development of technology also made technology easier to use and more accessible. We have gone from an era where only a few people have access to information and technology, to one where it is virtually in everything we do. In business, this results in IT capabilities becoming more embedded into business capabilities. Organizations seeking competitive advantage need to learn how to harness that potential. Business leaders who want to compete in today’s market, and well into the future, have to lead their companies toward a true business and technology convergence.

Critical Role of the BRM in Business and IT Convergence

From my experience, the BRM role is one of the hardest roles to explain contextually. When I was interviewing for my current job four years ago, one of my interviewers, a senior vice president of the company told me later that he selected me from among candidates because I was the only one that explained the BRM role clearly to him. The most critical role of a BRM is to facilitate the convergence of business and IT. Because of this context, the BRM role performs responsibilities with the business organization and with the IT organization. The BRM diagram attached in this article is the most effective way I have been able to convey the clarity of the BRM role from my personal experience. I realized that the best way to explain it is to provide perspectives of the BRM role from the two converging sides. It is important to note that concepts in this diagram was derived from two of the earliest frameworks we worked on at the BRM Institute: BRM DNATM (Develop, Nurture, Advance) or the BRM Competency Model and the BRM Metaphors.

 

BRM Role Clarity

 

Facilitate Business-IT Convergence (BRM as Navigator) – BRM supports business leaders in the facilitation of business technology strategy and business capabilities road-mapping. In turn, these business / technology strategy and roadmap will guide Enterprise Architecture, Portfolio and Program Management.

Drive Value from Provider Services (BRM as Connector) – BRMs as connectors are responsible for optimizing business value of IT. Value creation is about business performance and results from a dynamic balance between business demand and IT supply. BRM is not limited to IT Demand Management but rather Demand Shaping by raising IT Savvy of the business.

Orchestrate Key Provider Role (BRM as Orchestrator) – With the business organization BRM is the single point of focus in mobilizing programs and business technology roadmaps. This is very different from the old paradigm of single point of contact. From the IT organization, BRM can also play key provider roles. For example, in my current organization, I also play the role of Business Process Management. This provider role may vary based on business need.

Now the question is, how can a BRM perform this role effectively to drive business IT convergence? The answer starts with the BRM Competencies Model. This six BRM competencies describe the knowledge, skills and behavior needed for successful performance of the BRM Role. The following are the key BRM competencies:

  • Masters at Strategic Partnering
  • High Business IQ
  • Excel at Portfolio Management
  • Excellent Knowledge of the Provider Domain and Service Management Discipline
  • Skilled in Organizational Change Management
  • Powerful Communicators

An Invitation

I believe Business Relationship Management is the key lever of strategic speed for Information Technology organizations and the business. BRMs are “the oil to the machine” that reduces organizational friction. Fast is not always about pace. It is about people, shared perspectives, shared risk and rewards.

If you want to know more about the BRM role, there is an upcoming opportunity for us to engage. I am excited that Vaughan Merlyn, BRMI Co-founder, and I are hosting the first of the #IamBRM series this Feb 22, 2018. This will be the first in a series of webinars leading up to BRMConnect 2018. We will talk about two core models, BRM DNA™ and House of BRM™, that underlie the Business Relationship Management role, discipline and capability. I collaborated with Vaughan Merlyn and the BRM Institute years ago when we started developing these models! Please register through this link to join us in this webinar sponsored by the BRM Institute.

Start with Why! Personal and Business Approach to Inspiring Others

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“Your Why is your purpose, cause or belief that inspires you to do what you do. When you think, act and communicate starting with Why, you can inspire others.” – Simon Sinek

A couple of weeks ago, our office had a team building event at iFly. Most of us signed up to experience our first indoor skydiving and I did so with hesitation. At iFly, we had a short 30-minute instruction session and then, we put on safety gears. I made my dream of flight a reality! It was so amazing that I thought of bringing my 6-year old twin boys to experience it the following day.

It was Friday so I went to pick up my sons from school. I told them we were going to iFly so they can experience indoor skydiving. They were not interested at all and both said no emphatically. I showed them how iFly does it through a video. They saw kids flying upward the wind tunnel. I said, “Isn’t this fun?” They looked somewhat convinced but a bit frightened. They responded no again with hesitation.

At such a young age, my boys like to read and learn astronomy. They know their solar systems, galaxies and black holes. Very often, I hear them talk to each other about becoming an astronaut. They went to NASA summer camp together last year. I wanted to convince them to do iFly, so I told them that one other way astronauts train with weightlessness besides being under water is indoor skydiving. Their eyes lit up and we jumped into the car. They experienced iFly and went to tell friends about it with their hand upwards as if in flying motion.

Why didn’t I communicate with WHY (to be an astronaut) from the very beginning? Instead, like most people, I started with WHAT (indoor skydiving) and the HOW (video). Simon Sinek’s TED talk How Great Leaders Inspire Action is about the idea that most people communicate by starting with the WHAT. By explaining his Golden Circle, Simon spoke about how transcendent leaders like Martin Luther King and innovative companies like Apple begin instead with WHY.

iFly

At the BRMCONNECT Forum hosted by BRM Institute at the PepsiCo headquarters in Dallas, this was my story. I was asked by Aaron Barnes, CEO and Co-Founder of the institute to tell other BRMs the story of how I formed my team and what we do. I started my storytelling by sharing the Why. The vision and purpose of my team: To Be Strategic Leaders Driving Competitive Advantage. This is a shared vision with the rest of our IT organization. In the beginning, this seemed a lofty goal. To me personally, this Why is the reason why I get up in the morning fulfilled to go to work!

We started with the Why but if we are going to be strategic partners with the business, our next challenge was the HOW. How are we going to put ourselves in the middle of business conversations and drive more strategic engagements? We turn to Business Process Management (BPM) as a means to foster business relationship. We created our Business Process Architecture (BPA) Framework and Process Assessment Methodology (PAM). We equip ourselves with an effective How.

Now when business partners come to us with a seemingly tactical request to deploy a specific application system, we have the means to ask “what business problem are you trying to solve?” and “what strategy are you enabling?” And then the invitation, let’s partner and do a Process Assessment. With three phases of PAM– Align, Discovery and Solution, we end up proposing a business initiative or technology project or both.

According to Simon Sinek every organization has a Why. “Your Why is your purpose, cause or belief that inspires you to do what you do. When you think, act and communicate starting with Why you can inspire others.” I realize there are effective use of this approach or concept in everyday — both in our personal lives and in business. Start with Why!

BRMConnect

Let’s Talk Business Process First! – How to Calibrate Business Relationship Maturity through Business Process Culture

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Use of information technology. Is it creating value? Is it improving business processes and capabilities? Or merely creating new wants? Is it important, or only urgent? What is it for? Every Business and IT engagement around business requirements revolves around these questions but managing it isn’t always easy.

First, let’s talk about IT organization’s critical role in the company’s business processes. One of the consequences of Business Process Management is a large majority of these programs are initiated in the IT organization.  There are very good motives for this.  One of the most common: the IT organization is responsible for providing the technology that enables business processes. Take for example, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems like SAP, Oracle, etc.  This ERP solution is a suite of integrated applications that a company can use for many business processes. Most ERP systems incorporate best practices reflecting the vendor’s interpretation of the most effective way to perform each business process. Systems vary on how conveniently the customer can modify these practices. Talking about best practices, it is advisable not to over-customize because doing so will keep you from taking advantage of the expected improvements and innovations from the purchased ERP package.

How do you characterize the nature of your engagement with your business partners? Is it functional orientated? If it is, there is more tendency for having more solution-based discussion versus process- and value-based. Even worse, it could be possible that your internal customer is engaging you at the tail end of their decision cycle–when they have already determined what they want or need. There is lack of business-IT alignment and strategic partnership.

How do you then improve the level of your business relationship with the business? There are numerous paths towards that elusive business-IT strategic partnership. In this post, I will talk about Business Process Maturity as a path— so I would say – Let’s Talk Process First! This has worked for me in the past. One of the most effective ways to change the orientation and focus of business IT interactions is to start with business process. Calibrate  your organization’s business process maturity and you will take along with it to a great degree IT-business relationship maturity. What you need are experienced business process managers with business relationship management competencies. Below I will walk you through these 3 stages of Business Process and Business Relationship maturity and describe what it means.

Business Process and Business Relationship Maturity

Process Maturity

Level 1: Support

Business Process Maturity = Diverse and Business Relationship Maturity= Adhoc / Order Taker

When your organizational approach to business process is diverse, more often business-IT initiatives are managed with lack of integration. At this stage, most of the organization’s process knowledge is known only to a few individuals. For business process engagement facilitation, there is dependency on external consultancy. There is no standard process management discipline that leads to more functional orientation of IT requirements discussion. Consequently, IT as a provider organization is hardly seen as a strategic partner–at most, a service provider. In terms of business relationship maturity level, most of the time, IT is treated as an order taker. This type of business relationship is characterized by loudest in – first out tendency causing reactive course of actions. My advice is to embark on a business process maturity journey. Establish a discipline of managing business processes as the means for improving business performance outcomes and operational agility.  Leverage use of technology to improve business processes.

Level 2: Improve

Business Process Maturity = Model Integration and IT-Business Relationship Maturity = Service Provider

You want to become an organization that designs processes first and then goes on to implement the technology enablers. Your organization wants to keep pace with technology and maintain a competitive advantage. Companies at this level adapt a consolidated method to design and implement business models using standard processes and tools. Process ownership ultimately improves as management breaks silos and approaches process and technology implementation equally.  The common tendency is for companies to establish process governance and ownership. IT plays a key role in the process evolution of the company and starts to be seen as a service provider and some cases even a strategic partner.

Level 3: Innovate

Business Process Maturity = Process Culture and IT-Business Relationship Maturity = Strategic Partner

The final step to Process Culture Maturity occurs when innovation and change in business practices through process understanding are consistently promoted within the company. As executives passionately embrace process thinking, they are able to promote innovation more confidently when implementing new technologies. In many cases, companies with mature process culture has End-to-End orientation to process management and IT plays a key role as center of process excellence. IT starts to be regarded as trusted and strategic partner. Business–IT relationship is based on cooperation and mutual trust with shared goals to maximize value from business initiatives.

Technology will not automatically implement itself and run your organization’s processes the way you envision. IT has a unique opportunity to spearhead business process improvements in the company. Start by changing the orientation of your business interactions from functional to business process, from solutions to value. Do not shy away from this opportunity. Use business process management to create greater strategic value and by doing so advance business-IT relationship level to new heights.

BRM and Virtuous Cycle of Trust Between Business & IT

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Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships. ― Stephen R. Covey

I have been working in the field of Information Technology for 17 years. I remember that a decade ago, when I showed my business partners simple tricks, shortcuts, and cool functionalities in systems or devices – I was able to impress them. Those interactions were engagement starters for me that somehow lead to long-term relationships and multiple joint business-IT ventures. This approach will rarely work in today’s world, where our business partners, like us, are tech savvy users. On many occasions, business users are the ones approaching me about apps they are probing, about cloud-based solutions on trial they are analyzing or new devices and tools they have seen in conferences they just attended.

Technology is developing at a much faster pace. This exponential development makes technology easier to use and more accessible. We have gone from an era where only a few people have access to information and technology, to one where it is virtually in everything we do.

In business, this results in IT capabilities becoming more embedded into business capabilities. Organizations seeking competitive advantage need to learn how to harness that potential. Business leaders who want to compete in today’s market, and well into the future, have to lead their companies toward a true business and technology convergence. IT-business alignment is no longer adequate where business formulates strategies and IT aligns later. In today’s world, this is a reactive process. Business and IT need to work together to bring engagement upstream and convert solution based conversation into value and business based conversation. Business technology convergence is a journey that will take time and after a repetitive positive cycle of engagement between IT and business. The strategic speed of this convergence depends on three drivers: clarity, unity, and value creation. These are the components of the virtuous cycle of trust.

BRM Virtuous Cycle

Clarity

Senior managers in business and IT should spend time improving the clarity of their strategies, purpose, and operating model in order to achieve a shared direction. Clarity means being able to answer the question: “Where are we going and why?” We should be able to answer the following questions:

  • Who does what, when? – Role Clarity
  • How do we drive responsible, value creating behaviors around the use of products services? – Clarity of business outcomes
  • How do we engage each other? – Clarity of rules of engagement
  • How do we develop needed competencies – Clarity of talent development and continuous learning
  • What is our operating model? – Clarity of the level of business integration and standardization

Unity

Strategic success is going be tough to achieve if leaders and work teams won’t cooperate for the greater good. You’re dreaming if you expect this cooperation to happen all by itself; patterns of conflict amongst people and organizations occur naturally but aren’t eliminated naturally. There must be a concerted effort to achieve unity. Unity means that once business and IT are clear on where they are headed, they agree wholeheartedly on the merits of that direction and the need to work together to move ahead. The emphasis should be on openness, alignment, and collaboration. If these are the main drivers of unity, leaders need to foster a culture where internal competition, mistrust and turf wars are discouraged. Organizations can achieve unity of effort through (1) shared common objectives and vision, (2) a coordination effort to ensure coherency and common measures of progress and (3) ability to change course if necessary.

Value Creation

Value creation is about business performance and results from a dynamic balance between business demand and IT supply. To succeed, IT organizations need to cultivate a culture of value management. Start by engaging your business partners in clarifying how you can contribute value. Being a good BRM means that you have an intimate knowledge of how your company creates value. How does you company make money? What does your company value? How does your company compete? The virtuous cycle of trust between business and IT spins faster when value is being realized and intended outcomes are met. The best way to measure value is combination of two metrics “time to value” and “value over time.”

For example, one belief that I try to dispel many times at work is that a comprehensive platform of services is a prerequisite for creating value. I don’t believe it is necessary to “go big” in order to achieve anything of value all the time. Sometimes, depending on the business initiative, it can be smarter to start small and act fast. On the other hand, you also have to look at sustainable value over time and have to balance both. Especially in large investments, value over a long period of time has to be expected.

BRM Levers

In summary, I believe Business Relationship Management is the key lever of strategic speed for Information Technology organizations and the business. Business Relationship Managers are “the oil to the machine” that reduces organizational friction. Fast is not always about pace. It is about people and shared perspectives. When all areas or teams are working harmoniously, because rules and directions are clear, it is amazing how much potential value it can create. In faster and successful IT groups, the emphasis is on strategic partnership, flexibility, openness, innovation and continuous improvement as well as taking the time to reflect and learn. These are functions BRMs are expected to do in both the business and IT sides.

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