Closing the disconnect


For years BRM functions have been chasing the “top table” where they’re dealing with their senior business stakeholders, understanding and influencing their business strategies over the next three to five years. Whilst this objective is essential to ensure the ongoing successes of the function, what has become apparent to me recently is this appears to be the focus which has led to a disconnect between BRMs and their IT colleagues. This was highlighted in our latest BRM forums where we conducted an exercise asking a senior member of the service delivery and operations team in an IT function to provide some input into what IT colleagues want from their BRMs and vice versa.  The input from both sides led me to conclude the following:

  1. BRMs must remember that the BRM is the bridge or “glue” between both the business and IT. BRMs need to ensure they remember this and give their equal time to both (within reason).
  2. Both BRM and other IT colleagues need to be “one voice”. This does not mean BRMs simply take the “heat” when there are issues nor BRMs simply blaming IT colleagues for technical issues to the business (which seems to the perception of both parties at present). It means having a strong relationship with each other, where everyone understands each other’s roles, are happy to work collaboratively on projects, service reviews etc., and have clear lines of communication at all times.
  3. BRMs must remember they need strong relationships with both the business and IT to be successful. There is no point sitting in front of a key business stakeholder to discuss their roadmaps if on arrival at the meeting, corporate email is down and the BRM is unable to provide any input as to why it’s down and when it’s likely to be resolved.
  4. BRMs need to ensure everyone (i.e. the business and IT colleagues) are aware of their role and what value they bring. IT colleagues can perceive BRMs as “blockers” due to a lack of understanding.
  5. The success of a BRM function is heavily dependent on a mature and effective IT operations department. If this doesn’t exist BRMs are more likely to be asked to resolve tactical issues, which has an impact on a BRM’s brand and how they’re perceived.  A stronger relationship with IT colleagues will undoubtedly help here.
  6. BRMs need to establish communication processes with IT colleagues so IT can understand what work is coming down the pipeline, BRMs have clear visibility of technical roadmaps, BRMs are aware of P1s/P2s before the rest of the business etc.
  7. One way to help improve a relationship is to ask senior IT stakeholders to highlight how they currently perceive the effectiveness of BRMs via workshops and help understand the impact and alternative actions to improve this relationship.

Whilst IT colleagues (certainly senior management) can help close the disconnect it is the BRM who will need to take the lead. However, as this is an area where BRMs should excel (it’s a key part of their role) surely the current disconnect is more to do with a lack of focus with IT colleagues rather than an inability of BRMs to do so?

Your thoughts and comments are, as always, very welcome.

James O’Driscoll BRMP®

Director – Gilbert Scott Associates Ltd