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A BRM needs to take a 360 view of its providers of service. Also, External Service Providers. There is not in the foreseen future a change to go away from outsourcing, so the External Service Provideres need to be taken into account by the BRM in order to be successful and reach the goal of optimizing business value from the providers products and services.

We have gathered some questions that you can use to assess and potentially improve the relationship and ultimately come closer to the goal. If you have any other ideas, we would love to read about them in a comment.

1. Are the predominant objectives with the outsourcing clearly described in the contract?

Have you as a customer actually described to your External Service Provider, what your business objectives are? If not, how will they know how to support your business? This will also provide input to the Service Provider on what capabilities that are required.

2. Is contract sign-off jointly done by sales and delivery?

To understand how your External Service Provider works inside their organization, it is important to understand their motives. What drives them? The situation would be to have both sign-off, so you can have soles look into the more navigator part of BRM and the delivery into the more orchestrator part.

3. Are meetings described on several organization levels?

Meetings can help create focus. Meetings should be held on different organizational levels ranging from meetings around operational issues to top-level strategic meetings. This can be a mean to remove the accountability for BRM from the BRM role and move it to a organizational capability, so relationships are the responsibility.

4. Do meetings have 1) attendees or roles, 2) agendas, 3) input/output and 4) meeting accountable detailed or is it part of a transition project?

The most important factor for a meeting to happen and be successful is actually the last item. It needs an accountable that ensures minutes are taken, actions are detailed, and input/output is created. This can be from the Provider side or Business side. A meeting is always better if it is based on input. Think of your own situation. Is the meeting best if you have received a report or presentation beforehand or is it better as an ad-hoc meeting? The question answers itself. And why not create an output from this meeting as input to the next in the organizational level. A joint reporting, which will support the relationship as two contractual different parties work together to make a joint agreed reporting. Remember: You need all four items in the list. You also need to detail the agenda and the participants. Therefore, you should not accept that only part of this is delivered in a transition. As this is key to the relationship, try to take ownership of creating an orchestrating it. The BRM should at least attend all tactical and strategic meetings.

5. Is the relationship status an output from all meetings?

As part of the meeting agenda, relationship status should be included. It probably should not have a precise metric, but instead be a Red-Amber-Green status. This will make it a vessel for conversation, which is the actual purpose. It makes the participants on a meta level think about the meeting, what they contribute with and how they can make the environment better. Also, on the top-level strategic meetings.

6. Is there a value report to be delivered periodically, e.g. yearly?

How do you know and how does the External Service Provider know if they are delivering value to the business? Once a year, the annual accounts are created. Think in the same way in the relationship. Once a year, a value report should be co-created detailing what value is created to support the business objectives in the agreement.

7. Is the “supplier-owner” of the contract from delivery or sales?

Depending on the ownership of the contract, you can have two very different relationships. It is important to understand whether it is sales – from the notion Account Management – or whether it is delivery. If it is sales, there can be a tendency to focus on additional sales and forgetting the relationship and delivery.

7½. Is the “business-owner” of the contract from contract management (or similar department) or delivery?

And the same does for your organization. If it is a contract management department that owns or predominantly supports it, there can be a tendency to focus on contractual deliveries and cost-cutting.

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