Business-IT Dialog?

ITIL has long espoused the need for IT-to-business alignment. However, the levels of IT organization success in achieving this are somewhat patchy. Portfolio management techniques can be used to demonstrate the level of IT congruence with business strategy, but in Ovum’s opinion there is also real value to be gained from an ongoing dialog with key stakeholders within the business – a formalized dialog which is part of the overall IT service management ecosystem.

Within ITIL v2 this was subsumed within monthly or quarterly service level management meetings. ITIL v3 however takes the need for such dialog a step further with the introduction of a business relationship manager role, with the business relationship manager (or managers) tasked with acting as a liaison between IT and the business. A business relationship manager should have significant knowledge in subject matters pertaining to both IT and the business. They should be specifically responsible for understanding the business and its needs, assisting in the prioritization of IT-related projects, and directing IT strategy in support of business strategy. Importantly, the role differs from that of a customer relationship manager in that it should act as an advocate for the business within IT, acting in a way that is not driven by the need to sell more IT product and services.

Business relationship managers should also work closely with the product and service managers responsible for developing and managing services across the service lifecycle, ideally working via service and customer portfolios. At a more granular level, they should work with all levels within the business, from day-to-day operations to strategic planning, to ensure the right services are delivered at the right price to meet business needs. Their primary goal is to build a true partnership between IT and the business (most likely at a business-unit level) providing the business with the opportunity to help shape the IT services delivered.

In Ovum’s experience, the business relationship manager position is still an emerging role within IT organizations. However, whether the role exists or not, an ongoing two-way business dialog (with business unit or functional champions) is a recommended starting point for both ITIL v3 adoption and the ability to demonstrate delivered business value. An IT organization should, in particular, assess and educate key stakeholders in their understanding of what IT does and what IT governance and IT service management means to them, and should establish what is important in terms of demonstrating IT performance, the stewardship of IT resources, and the value that IT delivers to the business.

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One thought on “Business-IT Dialog?

  1. If we could make it real, it would help – let’s show, not tell.

    How about taking a real, today project like “VDI”? That is crying out for someone to manage the customer relationship. All VDI solutions need a service owner that is not a technology provider.

    Unfortunately it ends up as the data center or operations manager “owning” VDI because the concept of “owning” means “my P&L”.

    If we could mix your approach with a VDI solution it would be a great show case for this approach.


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