Understanding Customer Expectations, Business, and Environment In ITIL




Thanks for all your input, feedback, and comments regarding my previous blog post on service level management. I appreciate your growing interest in my ITIL specific blogs. I would also like to thank our content expert who is always helpful and supportive. I hope you will enjoy reading this blog post as well. This week, I have selected another important process of ITIL which is Business Relationship Management (BRM). This is one of the 26 processes discussed in the ITIL Foundation course.

What Is Business Relationship Management?

BRM belongs to the ‘Service Strategy’ stage of the IT service lifecycle which is the first stage to initiate a service. It proposes and makes sure that a business relationship is established between a customer and a service provider. This relationship needs to be maintained so that a better understanding and information about the customer environment, expectations, vision, target market, offered services/products, challenges and interests can be availed.

We know that IT Service Management is about narrowing down the gap between customer expectations and service provider deliverables, or in other words, creating a bridge between the two so that the service provider’s actions are aligned with the customer expectations. This alignment can be achieved by understanding customer strategies and varying business needs (dynamics) based on customer interests and long-term goals. The service provider’s active presence in understanding the customer’s business environment and delivered products/services, brings awareness and profound knowledge about the desired outcomes and helps adds value to the offered services.

The BRM can be between the internal service provider and customer. In this case, both belong to the same organization or business unit or between an external service provider and customer. For larger accounts (customers) or selected accounts (VIP rated customers based on the service provider’s strategy), a service provider usually dedicates a full-time person responsible for establishing and maintaining BRM with them. This representative in general spends significant time at customer’s production facilities or business units and/or continuously remain informed, focused and in touch with concerned or those responsible in order to learn about that customer’s environment, limitations, challenges, failures/issues, future plans, and target markets/businesses.

All this information may not be available/supplied to the service provider’s designated account manager, but the more understanding he/she can get, the better it is for the service provider to add value to their offered services for that customer. Account Managers serve as the representatives of service provider for that customer and their duty is to maintain long term business relationships. In case of an internal service provider, a senior IT manager can take the role of maintaining a business relationship with its customer within the same organization. However, that may not be as significant as the relationship between an external customer and a service provider.

How Does BRM Help?

BRM helps the service provider understand the customer’s perspective regarding offered service(s) and enables them to acquire appropriate service assets to realize it. Customer satisfaction is most important, so having a strong and well-managed business relationship is necessary. Let’s summarize the main points of the BRM process:

  • Understanding of client’s perspective of offered service(s) by the service provider
  • The service provider’s ability to meet the customer’s varying business needs in terms of offering valued service(s)
  • Maintaining the relationship with the customer and having updated knowledge of its business drivers
  • Awareness of how the service provider’s offered services are used by the customer for optimization purposes
  • Assessing technology trends which may impact the customer’s business and therefore offering changes in existing services or planning new services to cater accordingly.

A question I often hear from my trainees is about the relation and focused areas of service level management and business relationship management. Yes, they are related and associated in an indirect way. SLM focuses on operational and tactical perspectives of client whereas BRM takes care of the strategic perspective.

In my upcoming blog, I will be discussing the Access Management process in continuation of my series on ITIL best practices. I hope you will continue to read and won’t hesitate to share your response/feedback with me.

About The Author
Azhar
(MEF-CECP, CEH, Security+, Network+, Linux+, ITIL, Azure, CCNA, and UNIX Sys Admin)

Azhar Khuwaja

With over 20 years in the IT industry, Azhar is an expert at Information Security, Virtualization / Software-Defined Networking, Next Generation SDH, DWDM, GPON-FTTX, Optical Transmission & Carrier Ethernet.