The Value of Business Relationship Management

One of the key processes in the ISO/IEC 20000 standard is Business Relationship Management. This process “establishes and maintains a good relationship between the service provider and the customer based on understanding the customer and their business drivers.”


Business Relationship Management (BRM) within ISO/IEC 20000 is one of the Relationship Processes (along with Supplier Management). These processes help to establish the links in what Harvard Professor Michael Porter described as the “value chain”. BRM creates the link between the service provider (including IT, but full delivery may involve other organizational functions) and the customers and users, both internal (“the business”) or external (“the end customer”).


Business Relationship Management is now a formalized process in newest (2011) edition of ITIL. With the newest edition, the authors recognized the importance of having BRM as an extent process, rather than as guidance embedded in other ITIL processes (such as Service Portfolio, Strategy Management and Service Level Management). The formalization of BRM now paints a complete picture of the service lifecycle, one that has slowly emerged since the earliest days of best practice guidance in the form of ITIL.
I sometimes encounter people who had begun their journey with V2 guidance, yet had only been exposed through formal training to the two core books of Service Delivery and Service Support. This narrow exposure gave them a limited perspective of the service lifecycle that had always existed (albeit in a disjointed and disconnected way). Unfortunately, many people did not know about or read the other books in the V2 library. However, best practice guidance had been put forth in V2 as to the importance of engaging the customer and understanding their needs. The last of the V2 books to be published, titled The Business Perspective, focused on this vital idea. In ITIL V3 (2007 edition), the authors brought this idea into the mainstream service lifecycle, yet had not made it a formal process. BRM has now taken its rightful place in the canon of processes in ITIL 2011.
I am very glad to see the full vision of the service lifecycle emerge. BRM is a fundamental process that helps a service begin its own journey to delivering value to customers and users. Although one could (and many have) begun their service delivery journey from IT outward, BRM provides an often misunderstood or forgotten view or perspective from the customer towards the service provider. Following the standards laid forth in ISO/IEC 20000, an organization can begin to build an even stronger linkage to those stakeholders who benefit most from efficient, effective and economical services delivered by service providers. 

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