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BRM and the Nine ITIL Guiding Principles White Paper

White Paper

BRM and the Nine ITIL Guiding Principles White Paper

White Paper

  • White Paper
  • Communication
  • Business solutions
  • Service management
  • Stakeholder management
  • ITIL

Author  Karen Ferris

June 27, 2018 |

 7 min read

  • White Paper
  • Communication
  • Business solutions
  • Service management
  • Stakeholder management
  • ITIL

The ITIL® Practitioner Guidance contains nine guiding principles. Though they were originally intended to assist within ITSM improvement initiatives, the guiding principles can be applied to many other situations.

Here, ITIL practitioner architect Karen Ferris explains how the principles can work for business relationship managers.

Focus on value

The business relationship manager (BRM) must ensure ideation (the first stage in moving an idea from conception to execution) focuses on value that benefits the customer.

The customer determines what is of value, not the service provider.

Once the course of action has been decided upon, the next step is to reduce value leakage. Value leakage happens when the organization fails to extract the maximum potential value when solving a business problem or exploiting an opportunity.

Value leaks when:

  • the value system between the service provider and business partner is misaligned;
  • when opportunities to create value are missed;
  • when service provider solutions fail to fully meet the needs of the opportunity;
  • when the solution is deployed or operated in a suboptimal way;
  • or when business value measurement, accountability or organizational capability are lacking.

Design for experience

It is important to manage the experience that the customer and end-user have when interacting with a service.

Customer experience (CX) is closely related to business relationship management. The BRM must work to align the organization and the customer requirements.

The BRM should attend to the objective and subjective aspects of CX:

  • objective: when a person orders a product that arrives in the promised delivery time, this can be measured objectively.
  • subjective: if a person perceives the website to be difficult to navigate, this is subjective; it is a matter of opinion on the customer’s part.

Failing to address both aspects of CX, particularly the subjective, will result in loss of customer confidence, which will have a direct effect on the performance of the organization.

Start where you are

At the start of a change initiative, there is a temptation to throw everything out and start again. Tired processes and unsuccessful services are torn down to make way for something new.

This is rarely necessary or wise. Starting from scratch can be wasteful; existing services, processes, people and tools might still bring value if revisited and repurposed.

Do not start over without considering what is already available.

For the BRM, starting where you are is vital during ideation, when ideas are originated, idea documents are created, and the business decides which avenue to pursue. It is essential to look at all available options to ensure the best option is taken. Many of those options begin with adapting things that already exist.

Work holistically

No service, process, department or supplier stands alone. Results are delivered to the customer and/or business via the effective and efficient management of a complex combination of hardware, software, data, processes, architectures, metrics, tools, people and partners, all coordinated to provide a defined value.

The results delivered to the customer will suffer unless the service provider considers the whole system, and not just the individual parts. In a complex system, the alteration of one element will impact others. The BRM should identify, understand and plan this impact.

Value can leak when solutions or services fail to meet the needs of the business partner due to flawed design, which can include failure to work holistically.

The BRM must ensure that the service or solution design creates the intended key business outcomes.

Progress iteratively

Progressing iteratively is about adopting an Agile and Lean approach to the delivery of value to the business. The purpose of each iteration is to accomplish something of value. This is often referred to as a minimum viable product (MVP), the smallest thing you can build that delivers value to the customer.

Every improvement should have a focused objective and scope that will allow it to be effectively and efficiently completed. An individual improvement may stand on its own but, most often, initiatives have to be accomplished iteratively.

The BRM can work as an intermediary between the business and the customer, bringing insight and guidance to help the business make better use of their capabilities and assets. As such, a Lean Agile approach allows the BRM advantages over a traditional way of working.

The traditional approach maximizes individual resources within a pipeline, rather than maximizing the throughput of the whole pipeline. This can result in individual tasks holding up the improvement initiative, even though other tasks are accomplished with great efficiency. In practice, the traditional framework has few supporting mechanics in place to realize this goal.

In a Lean Agile environment, the focus is on the total throughput of the pipeline, rather than the utilization of individual tasks. The success of the initiative is based on this goal, and the mechanics necessary to realize the goal are core. This makes it easy for the BRM to be a strategic partner.

Observe directly

The business needs to know that the decisions it makes are based on accurate information. To know what is really going on, we have to observe directly.

Observing directly (going to the source, or the ‘Gemba’ as Lean describes it) means visiting the place where the activity creating the value is occurring to see what is really happening.

The BRM should experience the Gemba for themselves in order to understand what the experience and perception of the service is for the consumer. The value the BRM provides as a trusted advisor will increase when they have a true picture of what value means to the business and the customer.

The BRM can also encourage the service provider to understand the value of observing directly, sending their staff to their business units to observe what is going on. This can be an eye-opener, and can quickly change behaviours when service delivery staff see the struggle the business has with their products, services and tools.

Be transparent

The BRM can bring the work of the service provider out of the darkness and make it as transparent as possible. The more people are aware of what is happening, how it is happening and why it is happening, the more they will help and the less they will obstruct.

It is also about being open, honest and authentic, which will help to establish the BRM as a trusted advisor and strategic partner.

The BRM should ensure that accomplishments are communicated and celebrated. This will emphasize the importance and value of the improvement initiative, and instill a sense of pride in the participants.


When the right people are involved in the right ways, the on-going service provision is more efficient and effective.

The improvement initiative benefits from better buy-in. It becomes more relevant because better information is available for decision-making, which means there is a greater likelihood of long-term success.

Collaboration is a key component of business relationship management. Some organizations do not involve the business as they might:

  • The service provider may feel that it is too difficult to get the business’ time, and that the resulting delays are a waste of time and resources.
  • The business may feel that, after they have defined their requirements, the service provider should simply go ahead and deliver the service.

The BRM needs to drive the right level of collaboration with the business throughout the service lifecycle. This will save time and money in the long run, and produce results that are better suited to the business’s needs.

The BRM is key to breaking down silos and creating an environment of collaboration.

Keep it simple

If a process, service, action, metric, etc. provides no value or produces no useful outcome, then it should be eliminated.

When analyzing an improvement initiative, the BRM should always ask ‘Does this create value?’

Keep it simple is an important principle for a BRM. There is a tendency to try to do everything at once. For example, it is unlikely that, when business relationship management is initially established in an organization, it will immediately be pitched at a high level of maturity, or that the BRM will instantly become a strategic partner.

Develop the capability iteratively and keep it simple. Don’t over-engineer the capability, as this will only confuse the business partner and will not help in the establishment of a strong working relationship.

The Nine ITIL Guiding Principles