Question: What value can the BRM deliver if IT has no track record of implementing new projects?
For a role that is about relationships, Business Relationship Management does often appear to obsess about value perhaps more than is helpful. The desire to have a way to prove that we’ve done something that contributed to the act of “making money” in the organisation isn’t a bad thing but when it becomes the overriding focus then I would question what else is lost.
Having that mentality as we approach this question is something that I think can be really useful.
If you’re a BRM either in a new organisation, or one that hasn’t successfully delivered new projects (either because it hasn’t tried or has done it badly) then you’re going to need to think about how you position the role to be perceived as having benefit to those you seek to build relationships with. The first thing, as with many aspects we’re looking at, is being clear about your purpose and why you’re building relationships, or even who you’re building relationships between and on behalf of.
If the only reason you’re role, as a BRM, exists is to secure more demand for the delivery of projects then the lack of track record is going to be a different challenge to a situation where the role is about securing value from the organisation's investments regardless of who the delivery provider is.
There is a textbook answer to this question in the BRM Institute Value Leakage pipeline – The BRM has a role to play at each of those stages in securing or preventing the loss of value from an investment decision and that is done regardless of the delivery providers track record.
But beyond that what is the BRM able to do? Here are some suggestions:
Solve difficult problems for others
There are occasions where the right thing to do now is about building something better for the future. The mistake is to think that this task is the destination itself rather than something that will enable you to do the thing you really want or need to do. By focusing on the most immediate problems that someone wants to see solved you make yourself useful, build trust and demonstrate that the other person's world is important. These are all going to enable you to build a better, deeper and more strategic relationship in the future – but only if you keep that end goal in sight.
If you’re not able to “add value” by doing something that is directly linked to the provider side then focus on what you can do for the person you are partnering with.
If you’re successful they’ll remember the result and who worked with them to achieve it much more than they’ll remember what process was used or even who did the actual delivery.
Make sense and articulate what is happening
There is an old joke, which has truth to it but can also be undervalued, that a consultant is someone who borrows your watch to tell you the time. Actually, there are lots of times we look at a clock or watch and realise that we still don’t have an idea what the time is.
Having a fresh or different perspective, seeing the problem for the first time or being less entwined with the need to get the result is a powerful place to be and if you’re doing this as a consultant or a BRM then it is an area where time and again I’ve been part of making a valuable contribution in situations where it wasn’t clear what could be done.
There is value in being able to come up with a better articulation of a problem, being able to help two sides explain what they’re trying to achieve and the other understanding it or in being able to navigate through a set of challenges that until now have been brick walls. As a BRM you’ll be in a good place to do this, you’ll see more and have wider experience, so put it to good use and again in these small steps, you build trust and people will see the benefit of working with you.
Enable intelligent prioritisation
Prioritisation is another endless debate like adding value, there nearly always isn’t an answer to balancing finite resources with infinite demand. Everything you do becomes a compromise and will be wrong, so the BRM has a significant role to play in helping the organisation to be “less wrong” about the choices that it makes. By better understanding how the work demand has come about, what the business impact will be of it being done next rather than now, and being able to shape those messages to the wider organisation (supplier and customer side) are hugely important.
In conclusion, the way you add value is not by having a job title or playing in a position, it is about seeing problems and things going wrong to use your breadth of skills and knowledge to be able to find a way through the mess. If you don’t want to end up as a fixer then make sure you know what the goal is and how your involvement at this point is going to contribute to your overall success. Ultimately, being useful is the most valuable thing you can do even if your job description says something else.