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The Best of Service Strategy, Part 5

ITIL 2011:  Business Relationship Management
Originally Published on August 16, 2011

With the recent publication of the ITIL 2011 edition, several items within the best practice set have undergone a transformation. One of the goals of the 2011 edition is to bring even more consistency and standardization to the best practices by formally recognizing and organizing several ideas and activities that the 2007 edition had not previously structured as full, formal processes.  While always referenced in the 2007 edition (and ISO/IEC 20000), Business Relationship Management is now an official ITIL process
The newly structured Business Relationship Management process now formalizes the activities and links between the customer or user and the service provider through a central contact point embodied in the Business Relationship Manager role.
The ITIL 2011 edition states that the purposes of Business Relationship Management are twofold:
  • To establish and maintain a business relationship between the service provider and the customer based on understanding the customer and their business needs
  • To identify customer needs and ensure that the service provider is able to meet these needs as business needs change over time and between circumstances. Business Relationship Management ensures the service provider understands these changing needs.
The key to making full use of this valuable process is to see that it focuses on the needs of the customer and the business. The service provider (whether that is IT alone or in conjunction with other internal business functions) needs to have a means of staying in touch and in tune with the entities (the customer and the business). The Business Relationship Management process serves in this capacity. This touchpoint also provides a way of anchoring the service provider to the customer and creating full business-IT alignment and integration so that everyone in the organization focuses on the same outcomes and objectives.

Rather than leave the activities of the Business Relationship Management process up to chance, ITIL 2011 identifies that we can and should manage all activities undertaken as formally documented and mature processes. For Business Relationship Management these include two key activities:
  • Being the voice of the service provider to the customer
  • Being the voice of the customer to the service provider
As the key role in the process, the Business Relationship Manager serves as this voice through ongoing communications and interaction with representatives from the customer and the service provider. Business Relationship Manager could also easily combine with the Service Level Manager role to create a seamless conduit from customer to service provider capabilities used to ensure value.
The Business Relationship Management process is a simple yet powerful tool to ensure value to the customer and the business. Now that the process has a formal structure, it should provide even more benefit to your organization as you work to increase quality and customer satisfaction.


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