The Business Relationship Maturity Model

The Business Relationship Maturity Model (BRMM) is a way to help surface and understand the maturity of the relationship between a Provider (internal IT organization) and their Business Partner. This is not about the maturity of the BRM role or process.  This is about the maturity of the Provider/Business Partner relationship and therefore must take into account the perspectives of each party. The BRMM is made up of 5 levels, each with a descriptive tag, and represents a relationship maturity continuum. Level 5 is the highest and described as strategic partnering, Level 4 is trusted advisor, Level 3 is service provider, Level 2 is order taker and Level 1 being the lowest or ad hoc.

Level 1 Ad Hoc: From the Business Perspective (BP) it’s, can’t even get my providers attention, results cost too much, delivers too little and takes too long.   From the Provider’s Perspective (PP) it’s: I’m too busy to think about anything other than I’m too busy.   Characteristics of relationship (COR) are: unmanaged demand, unclear rules of engagement and no clear sense of value. To move to the next level the Business must embrace the reality of the existing capabilities and the Provider must establish demand management principles.

Level 2 Order Taker:  (BP) I engage my provider when I need something so they stay out of my way when I don’t need them. (PP) We are asked to be predictable but there is no way to forecast demand so we know we disappoint our business partners more often than not.  (COR) Frequent misperceptions build distrust and reactive course changes.  Prioritized demand based upon weak data, we/they relationship (antagonistic) and provider is completely reactive.  To move to the next level Business must embrace the BRM role and Service MGMT.  The provider must establish BRM and Service MGMT excellence.

Level 3 Service Provider: (BP) My provider prevents me from making big mistakes but I’m not always sure which direction we are heading. (PP) Our business partners help set priorities, but we are always behind. (COR): The routine is routine but innovation is a challenge, services are stable but major project deliverables are inconsistent, costs are transparent but value is subjective. To move to the next level the business must engage the provider in strategic thinking.  The provider must pursue Portfolio and Transition MGMT excellence.

Level 4 Trusted Advisor: (BP) My Provider is helpful and reliable. (PP) Our business partners understand our capabilities, works with them and helps to improve them.  (COR) Mutual understanding of capabilities and needs, portfolio is aligned to business needs and sense of value from investments. To move to the next level the business must embrace business value realization.  The provider must embrace continuous improvement.

Level 5 Strategic Partner: (BP) My provider is integral to business success and growth and helps me succeed.  (PP) We work together with our business partners to survive and prosper.  (COR) Shared goals for maximizing value, shared risks and rewards, quality data is being produced, innovation is cultural, complete convergence.

There are several ways to engage this model in helping your organization build a more agile business. It can be used to assess the current maturity level of your business/provider relationship and create and established an agreed baseline.  You can then incorporate this baseline to establish a strategic plan to identify improvement opportunities and create a timeline for maturing your organization through the 5 levels of the model. It provides the information to educate your BRM team and provider leaders on what the current state is and how they can engage to elevate business relationship maturity. It can also help to shape your approach on how the business & the provider can become strategic partners and move the organization forward and thrive.

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