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Relative Strategic Focus

BRM® practices recognise that in the modern enterprise, technologies are pervasive and integrated within a businesses’ strategy and operations. It regards a service provider’s capability as an integral part of its business capability. Strategy is converged, coupled with architecture covering the complete set of business capabilities across all functions (business units, sales, marketing, technology, HR, finance, etc.).

ITIL® practices focus on services, the assets used by the service provider, and the activities of the service provider in supporting the “customer’ need for service capabilities. At the strategy level the service strategy is a subset of the IT strategy and of the business strategy. ITIL assumes service strategy is reacting to defined business strategies in a “marketplace” and regards service as a definable item captured in a service catalogue and articulated in an SLA. Required service capabilities must be clearly defined especially those provided by third parties such as support or outsourced business processes) (e.g. payroll processing, hosting, applications, and functions like security as a service). ITIL recognises that services from internal and external providers are likely to increase dramatically given the growing availability of off-the-shelf services of all kinds over the internet. ITIL recognizes that managing them is business critical and provides important guidance for creating and operating reliable, available, secure and cost effective IT services and related support.

Value Creation

BRM stimulates and shapes demand and drives creativity and innovation by encouraging and fast-tracking value adding ideas (ideation) that would result in business value. It encourages all relevant business and provider stakeholders to collaborate and be involved from the outset.

ITIL service strategy focuses mostly on pro-actively managing co-creation of services that have been authorized to be supplied. It also includes planning for the demand for those services and all the resources required to fulfill that demand from the customer’s predicted business activity.

In BRM, the output of strategy is an investment portfolio of programmes covering the complete business transition, e.g. business process, information and technologies over the full economic lifecycle – the achievement of both business purpose, results and eventual realisation of desired benefits.

In ITIL the output of service strategy is a co-created service portfolio / catalogue, created by service improvement or service creation projects, either to be used within an internal business transition or as a new market
offering by external service providers. The portfolio of services provides the capabilities needed to support the business transition and for operational delivery of the business processes and thus the business strategic goals and value creating results.


BRM recognises that in the past there has been a disconnect between service providers and business units caused by among other things poor communications, lack of trust and ethics among suppliers, and a tendency to operate in silos. This is made worse by lack of business awareness and understanding of technology opportunities, weak or non-existent value management practices when applied to technology investments, resulting in nervousness by business to take ownership of technology-enabled decisions.

Unlike most other practices, BRM is both an “Art and a Science”. Many of the challenges of the past require a shift in culture, based on EQ and effective communications that evolve a culture of collaboration and trust driving positive attitudes towards value creation and delivery. BRM builds effective relationships, breaking down silos, focusing on one set of goals, sharing ownership for results and striving for strategic partnerships. BRM stresses the need for a value framework covering the value management lifecycle from idea to realisation as a collaborative activity.

ITIL does not really address the culture aspect except for the guiding principles and practices related to continual improvement and risk management. ITIL starts with a focus on “engagement” and refers to business as its “customer”, whereas BRM recognizes business and IT are peers, where people in these functions converge as one team and share ownership of strategy and results as strategic partners rather than a client/server or master/slave relationship.

The BRM practices apply to the whole extended enterprise as a BRM capability, whereas ITIL tends to focus on the IT service management capabilities within the internal and external provider domain.

BRM helps an organization evolve culture across the entire organisation bringing capabilities to the CEO and other executives. Culture and the nature of the relationships can be assessed using tools such as relationship maturity assessments, business value ability assessments, and culture assessments to determine purpose satisfaction, and value recognition from all activities and capabilities not just technology.

Measuring effectiveness

In the past service providers have measured their success by delivering on the SLA and customer satisfaction. With BRM service providers measure their success by the success of their business partner’s objectives that they have helped to enable.

BRM and ITIL combined drives value and win-win partnerships

By combining BRM with ITIL, the service provider “becomes the business”, and are involved from the very beginning, helping to shape demand and with a shared interest and commitment for delivering business value. By combining at a strategic level, the importance of investing in stability, security and reliability will be more likely to be recognised by the business, trust will be gained and the culture will evolve from a blame and finger-pointing attitude to one that shares ownership for value creation.

Importantly, a business focus on the need for effective service management, based on ITIL practices will reduce the risk of operational incidents and value erosion caused by business interruptions. Given the extensive use of networks and end customer interfaces, it has never been more important for technologies to be safe, secure and reliable to maintain business trust and sustain business continuity.

Lastly the goal for IT providers to become strategic business partners will never be fully accomplished while there are ongoing service delivery problems caused by immature or ineffective service management practices. Improving service management using ITIL is a necessary step on the BRM relationship maturity ladder.

ITIL® is a registered trademark of Axelos www.axelos.com

BRM® is based on the BRM Institute www.brm.institute

This article is the view of ITWinners and Gary Hardy and is not endorsed in any way by either Axelos or BRM Institute, but rather is intended to stimulate comment and debate.

Feedback welcome!

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