Once again, this post was inspired by a question that recently appeared on the BRMI member’s Online Campus.

The member asked the following question (paraphrased):

Our IT Operations group does not see the value of the BRM role. They believe that the BRM role has no real accountability, while being viewed as holding others accountable for service delivery performance. As a result, they tend not to include us in their activities and decisions about operational issues that impact our business partners and customers. What can be done to help them appreciate the importance of including us in such meetings or decisions?

A Common Dilemma!

I responded that this was a relatively common dilemma–role clarity and engagement is always a challenge, but when you are looking at the gap in role perspectives between the BRM (with their customer intimate value discipline) and IT Operations (with their operational excellence value discipline) the gap in understanding and collaboration is often huge!

So, Is the BRM Accountable for Anything?

The viewpoint that “the BRM role has no accountability” is TOTALLY WRONG!  The BRM owns the customer relationship and is fully accountable for the customer experience!The customer experience in turn is a complex product of factors including customer satisfaction, business value realization, customer service experience, and the customer’s rational and emotional reactions as they try to accomplish their goals using the provider’s capabilities and services. This notion of “relationship ownership” and the corresponding “accountability for the customer experience” are concepts quite foreign to most operations environments, which live or die based up strong process management discipline. So, yes–the BRM has a very real and extremely important accountability!

Is Anyone NOT Accountable for Anything?

Beyond the real and significant BRM accountability for the business partner’s customer experience, if we recognize that (according to Wikipedia) accountability means:

answerability, blameworthiness, liability, and the expectation of account-giving. e.g., “A is accountable to B when A is obliged to inform B about A’s (past or future) actions and decisions, to justify them, and to suffer punishment in the case of eventual misconduct.”

The acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies including the administration, governance, and implementation within the scope of the role or employment position and encompassing the obligation to report, explain and be answerable for resulting consequences.

…then everyone is accountable for making and meeting commitments. In organizations with a strong culture of accountability (i.e., high functioning organizations), everyone makes commitments and feels accountable to meet those commitments. Whether a Process Owner, Service Owner, Product Owner, Relationship Owner, or anyone else on whom we depend upon for strong, predictable performance, accountability is integral to success, and is assumed to be part of the “rules of engagement” between any roles.

My Recommendation?

I suggested that this BRM initiate a dialog with IT Operations about this aspect of BRM accountability and its implications for other roles and other IT capabilities, such as IT Operations. That could be both illuminating and collaboration-enhancing! If we don’t understand, and live by, our mutual roles and their associated accountabilities, we slide into dysfunction, increased stress, and poor performance.


Graphic courtesy of Not Only Luck