Monday, 31 August 2015

BRMP Training – Avoiding Test Anxiety

I have completed all the modules for the Business Relationship Management Professional course through ITSM Zone and I am now preparing to take the test later this week. For me, the benefit for the online course and testing has been the flexibility for me to do this work over the course of a few weeks with no impact to my day to day work.

The only challenge for me, for as long as I can remember, is the test taking part of the test. Over the years in an effort to minimize the anxiety I have come up with a few tips which I will share with you.

Seems like a no-brainer but in some cases overconfidence can be replaced by drawing blanks on test day. Many tests are set up to play off of this and will have a ‘second best’ answer that will seem correct enough but will still get you no points on the total for the day. Make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to study. Cramming might work for some and not for others so understand what works best for you.

Visual Aids

Personally I like to see things represented in a visual way. I find that this provides a link in my memory back to something that I learned in the course. In many cases there may not be anything visual provided so I will tend to draw up something as a doodle in the notes section or off to the side in the course work.

Practice Exams
Doing one practice exam will give you a pretty good idea of what you can expect in a testing situation from the types of questions you may encounter to the time it will realistically take you to complete the exam itself.

Explain it to others
I had an instructor who told me the best way to understand a concept was to explain it to someone else who would normally not understand the materials covered in the course. Much of what I have done in these past 7 blog posts, if even self-serving, has allowed me to better understand the content for the test I am about to take

Whether you are in a classroom setting or taking the test online you should be able to connect with others who have either taken the test, are preparing for the exam or know the material. In some cases such as with the BRMI you are able to go to their website and connect with like-minded individuals

Before the test make sure that you we hydrated. Since humans are bags of mostly water, keeping yourself hydrated before the test will help your brain run at peak performance. Save having a few fingers of scotch for after you ace the test.


For more information check the BRMI and consider membership to reap the full benefits available.

Feel free to send me questions, comments or any other feedback

Follow me on Twitter @ryanrogilvie or connect with me on LinkedIn


Monday, 24 August 2015

BRMP Training - Influence and Persuasion - This is the Provider You're Looking For

The ability for a business relationship manager is to be able to influence their business partner and persuade them to adopt a course of action you are presenting is important on many levels. In the seventh BRMP module from ITSM Zone  on communications, I was particularly interested in the section on influence and persuasion. Remember that as a BRM you are working on two relationships, with the provider and business. To be able to do this you must gain trust from both equally. To some, you might see a BRM as being ‘on’ all the time, since they are consistently working on improving the relationships they manage.

The real question is "How do we persuade people?"

You can probably think of a time when you had a great idea that you assumed that once you presented it would be adopted right away. Once you pitched it you may have only heard crickets in the room. Why did that happen? Well it is probably because the idea was only one dimensional. To really persuade people you have to look at it from a multi-dimensional approach, where several angles and methods are taken into account.

The ancient Greeks realized this and called this type of approach Rhetoric. Aristotle outlined that there was three components; Logos, Pathos and Ethos.

Logos, speaks to the logical reasoning behind what we are proposing. This is where many people who cannot get their point across stop and because they do not leverage the other components may fall short.

Pathos appeals to people’s emotions, which is a strong tool. If we can get people to emotionally connect to your proposal through storytelling, for example it will improve your ability to persuade your audience.

Lastly Ethos is the ethical proof that your audience is looking for. Does the business relationship manager have the credibility to pull off what they are proposing?

With these in mind we need to further build out the proposal in terms of details. This would include such things as:
  • Reciprocity – if you give you shall receive.
  • Scarcity – what’s unique in your proposal?
  • Authority – what makes you credible?
  • Consistency – people like consistency so use that to our advantage.
  • Liking – have you ever noticed that people who are well liked can get things done easier?
  • Consensus – people want to follow the crowd to an extent. Show that your proposal is being done elsewhere successfully.

In some cases however, we have to deal with larger issue resolution. It is in these times where the BRM may need to look at managing these in a slightly different manner. The first thing to look at for this issue is to set the tone for who the BRM is discussing. This way the BRM can steer the already heated situating in a particular direction. The next step is to start the discussion. Be sure to manage these tightly to ensure that the critical points are captures and the discussions do not run away. Once the dialog has been captured you can share this to other stakeholders to extend the influence to a broader audience

To summarize the BRM should be able to use these tools to influence and persuade their business partners. They are able to use listening and observational skills to identify opportunities and problems as well as possible services which are needed. They should also be able to influence and persuade your business partners around value realization as well as senior leadership for a culture of value management.

For more information check the BRMI and consider membership to reap the full benefits available.

Feel free to send me questions, comments or any other feedback

Follow me on Twitter @ryanrogilvie or connect with me on LinkedIn


Thursday, 20 August 2015

BRMP Training – Service Management – Living in BRM

In the sixth module of the BRMP training from ITSM Zone I was introduced to Provider Domain Knowledge. One of the topics which it deals with specifically is Service Management. What some might find interesting (and some not) is that it refers to ISO/IEC 20000 for a definition of a service, which states “A means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs and risks.”

The important thing to note is that services are co-created. Unlike products which are physically delivered and made from raw materials, services are dynamic interactions between a customer and a service provider. This concept of co-creation is one of the reasons that business relationship management is required.

Notice the phrase “interactions between a customer and a service provider”

This is important because we need to improve the relationships with those provide service to if we are going to position ourselves as trusted partners down the road. This is more like a marathon than a race so we continually need to work on building trust as we provide exceptional service over time.

All this is good but while you are working to achieve business outcomes it will be the business who will ultimately determine if the service you are providing is valuable. In some cases where metrics are more subjective, let’s say for customer perception of value, this is a bit trickier and not something that can be as easily measured on a graph. In my opinion this is where business relationship management shines.

The key for the business relationship manager is to understand that the value is not defined by the provider. This is where we as providers may have failed in the past. The value is determined by the customer who is looking for a mix of features including objectives which are not always financially driven. We also must be scalable to change, since the value that customer is looking for likely will change over time and around varying circumstances.

If you have read any of the other posts from my series on the BRMP training you are starting to see a theme. We, whether we are BRM’s, service management practitioners or some other role are working with the business to really understand what they need and actually live in that relationship state.

For more information check the BRMI and consider membership to reap the full benefits available.

Feel free to send me questions, comments or any other feedback

Follow me on Twitter @ryanrogilvie or connect with me on LinkedIn


Tuesday, 18 August 2015

BRMP Training – Business Transition Management - Avoid a Sputtering Car

In the fifth module of the BRMP training from ITSM Zone I was introduced to Business Transition Management. 

One of the things we tend to forget, whether it is from a project or operational standpoint, is the people factor. Business Transformation Management addresses that very concept. It deals directly with handling the communication, stakeholders and any potential resistance that might be met along the way as a result of new changes that might be introduced. If you’re thinking that this sounds like organizational change management, you might be on the right track. The main difference here is that the focus is on the business partners and the transition that they will need to make, thus Business Transition Management.

As many people will probably tell you the most challenging piece of any change is the people component. In every group there is going to someone who is adverse to change. So what is the best way to get them to buy-in to what we are doing? In my experience I like to look at this from the other angle.

“What will happen if we don’t make the change?”

I find that while some people may have difficulty with change, they are far more likely to avoid any type of pain than anything else. This is where the verbiage in the discussion with the business is important. Outlining what we will gain as well as what challenges we will see if we do not act on this particular business initiative is going to nudge those who may on the fence. We need to speak in terms that the audience will clearly understand in their business language. While this is only the beginning we need to start with a foundation. Actions speak louder than words so while we may talk a good game we will need to prove that we are capable of executing.

Now that we have put down the foundation, communicated our intentions and delivered on some initial changes, we need to keep the momentum going. To be successful we need to reiterate the sense of urgency in the change that we are making. Regular communications with all stakeholders is critical. This will ensure that all people are informed on the progress as well as what is coming up next. This is the ‘management’ part of business transformation management.

In essence this module reinforced that we need to manage all change activities with the business. In my own experiences I have seen where not following through takes a solid start to a sputtering finish.

For more information check the BRMI and consider membership to reap the full benefits available.

Feel free to send me questions, comments or any other feedback

Follow me on Twitter @ryanrogilvie or connect with me on LinkedIn

Friday, 14 August 2015

BRMP Training – Portfolio Management – An Art and Science

Whenever I hear the term “Portfolio Management” I start to think in terms of dealing with a financial advisor for retirement planning. So it came as no surprise that when I started my next section in the training from ITSM Zone called Portfolio Management it talked about investments.

The portfolio accounts for the providers investments, which includes new projects or programs as well as existing services and capabilities.

The BRMI definition describes portfolio management as “The art and science of making decisions about investment mix and policy, matching investments to objectives, asset allocation and balancing risk against performance.”

The nice things about the course work as it applied here was it broke this definition down into consumable chunks. Taking the definition we can see that:

The art and science of making decisions” applies to portfolio management making objective, repeatable and consistent decisions. Where we may have had made decisions for priority on ‘gut feeling’ or escalations by the loudest voice previously we now have something that assists in that regard systematically

Investment mix and policy” this speaks to the ability to classify the investments. Much like a personal portfolio you may want to have more or less risk in the mix depending on the organizational appetites as well as what their business objectives support.

Matching investments to objectives” this speaks to making decisions based on the mix of investments and matching them to objectives, much like it says.

“Asset allocation” outlines all of the provider’s resources. Typically when we speak of assets we are talking about technology or finance but it also includes people as resources.

Balancing risk against performance”. It almost goes without saying that the lowest risk opportunities also have the lowest, if even more stable, returns. This component of the definition speaks to just that. Portfolio management needs to find the right balance when making investment decisions. This will differ from organization to organization.

So what makes this important? Well, this is a key component in the value management approach, it also ensures that the provider only has services available that contribute to strategic objectives and meet business outcomes.

The benefit of doing this is that we are able to make consistent and objective decisions as it applies to investments which represent the business strategy.

For more information check the BRMI and consider membership to reap the full benefits available.

Feel free to send me questions, comments or any other feedback

Follow me on Twitter @ryanrogilvie or connect with me on LinkedIn


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

BRMP Training - Business Outcomes – What’s the Deal?

Beginning the next section of the BRMP training from ITSM Zone entitled "Business IQ", I quickly started to see how the pieces of BRM were falling into place. While this section has quite a few important components such as business capability and value leakage, it was the piece on business outcomes in the value management section that struck a chord with me.

We have heard it a million times if we have heard it once, "Tie it back to business outcomes."

So what’s the deal?

As it is outlined in the module via BRMI “Business Outcomes are a means to establishing a discipline of value – from clarifying an opportunity, through to managing scope, establishing focus and ownership, through to measuring and optimizing realized value.”

I began to think about my own experiences with business outcomes. In places where we, as a provider organization, had challenges with them were when they were too basic. In other words having a simple statement where the goal is “to make more money” we always had trouble translating this.

In many cases what happened was that the provider (in my case IT) took this simplified objective and made some assumptions on how to make this happen. The trouble as we often found out was that we never maximized the potential since we weren’t dealing with specifics.

What I learned in the coursework was that we need to ensure that there is more clarity in these outcomes to improve on identifying priorities across competing initiatives, defining/measuring value and clarifying business strategy and needs among other things

All business objectives should have some basic characteristics including:
  • Important to the business
  • Should represent the results
  • There should only be a few
  • It should be clear if we achieved the outcome or not
  • It should be (SMART) specific, measureable, achievable, relevant and timebound

Even using this as a discussion point with your business will allow you to ask better questions of the business partner to be able to have an improved understanding of the goals for the business


For more information check the BRMI and consider membership to reap the full benefits available.

Feel free to send me questions, comments or any other feedback

Follow me on Twitter @ryanrogilvie or connect with me on LinkedIn


Monday, 10 August 2015

BRMP Training - Building a Relationship Strategy on a Page (RSOAP)

After completing the first module of the BRMP training from ITSM Zone I wrote a blog post entitled BRMPTraining - Business Provider Maturity Model. After some good comments and feedback I thought I would share some experiences from the second module.

One of the many things I took away from this module was Building a Relationship Strategy on a Page (RSOAP). Broken down into 5 sections, the true value in the RSOAP is the working through the process of completing it with the business to agree on a relationship strategy.
Here is a breakdown of the five sections where each section informs the one below:
Shared Vision – Where we want to be?
In the coursework what I found particularly interesting was the idea of switching roles for perspectives. This ‘walk a mile in the others shoes’ approach is great for not only brainstorming ideas that a person entrenched in the day to day operations of their job wouldn’t see but it also gives either the provider or the business the opportunity to gain some insight on one another. At the end of it a shared vision statement is generated which is realistic, value based, balanced and ambitious

Relationship Characteristics – How we will get there?
Having a target is great but the next step is to determine how to get there. We need to find out what we need in terms of capabilities and characteristics and see where gaps may exist. In other words we may need to tweak certain components which might be impeding us from making further improvements

Performance Measure – How to measure that?
This was the one thing that I had to wrap my head around a bit. In the RSOAP we are looking for the desired measure before we outline the initiatives. Traditionally we look at this from the other way around, with initiatives which are underway and then we have metrics against them.
Here we take from the shared vision to think about what we want to improve overall, and then determine how we could measure that to reach those goals. One challenge that exists in this outcome based approach is the measurement of performance for things that are less quantitative and more qualitative such as satisfaction.

Key initiatives – What initiatives will we need to do?
Like the other components of the RSOAP these should support the shared vision, relationship characteristic and performance measures. The challenge is that there are other initiatives which currently exist and they may not align with the new relationship. Some key components here include:
  • Collaboration
  • Both the provider and business should benefit
  • Address long standing issues
  • Creating quick wins

Operating principals – How we work together?
These overarching principals focus on how we work together. These are fairly general in nature and there are less of them to cover the more important aspects.

In the end you need to remember to share and validate the results of the RSOAP with the business partner to be effective. That like any document, the RSOAP needs to regularly reviewed and updated to stay valid. At the very least this is a great tool to help facilitate your business relationships.

For more information check the BRMI and consider membership to reap the full benefits available.

Feel free to send me questions, comments or any other feedback

Follow me on Twitter @ryanrogilvie or connect with me on LinkedIn



Wednesday, 5 August 2015

12 Days of Business Continuity

After a recent #ITSMCrowd Hangout discussion I thought it would be interesting to put this into the “12 Days of Christmas” format - enjoy

Queue the music....

To ensure continuity we need to prepare for:

12 Feet of snow

11 People quitting

10 Forest fires

9 Power outages

8 Vendor mishaps

7 Tornadoes

6 Servers stolen

5 Tidal waves

4 Major floods

3 Nasty windstorms

2 Hurricanes

An epic change that wiped out the tenth floor.

Feel free to send me questions, comments or any other feedback

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Tuesday, 4 August 2015

BRMP Training - Business Provider Maturity Model

For some time now I have been looking at taking the BRMP (Business Relationship Management Professional) course. For me scheduling was typically the constraint as I was moving about working with different clients. At the recent BRM Connect Conference sponsored by the BRMI this past May I committed to completing the training this year, if time allowed. Fortunately the planets lined up and I am able to take the training online with ITSM Zone. Over the next few weeks I will outline a take away from the sessions and share them with you to illustrate what business relationship management has to offer.
Module 1 Introducing BRM
After logging into the ITSM Zone training system I was easily able to begin the course. In the introductory component one of the lessons that resonated with me was the piece about the Business – Provider Maturity Model.
The theme revolved around supply and demand. Unlike many other maturity or capability assessments this one spoke to the business use of services. One of the main functions is to shake out the maturity of the supply capabilities from the provider as well as the business demand.
This is broken down into three levels of maturity:
Level One
In this initial level of business – provider maturity, demand for services likely comes in from several business units or silos. This level is very tactical and operational. I have worked in many organizations which exist in this level. Because these organizations operate in this silo/tactical manner, different teams used different tools to complete the same level of work. While this seems counterproductive, we find that as we endeavour to ‘Keep the lights on’ we continue to exist in this level until we can facilitate a move to the next level.

Level Two
In the next level we start to get away from the disparate systems we saw in level one to get a better sense of overall integration from the business perspective. We start to look at enterprise systems and collaboration as compared to the silos from level one.  Of course with this comes a new skill set where in order to support business needs we as the provider need to have a better sense of the business itself. Unfortunately I have worked at less of these organizations. While none had a formalized BRM function as defined by a particular role, each person understood that the need was there to work closely with the business and there was a stronger presence of business analysis for each corporate service which supported the business.

Level Three
This strategic maturity level is where we as the provider is working with the business to help them innovate and grow. It is at this point we are looking to go the extra mile beyond what is capable from a tactical perspective and be nimble enough to take advantage of opportunities that level one or two are not agile enough to handle. Sadly I have not had the opportunity to work for such an organization as yet but perhaps after this training I will be able to help an organization get there.

How do you do that?
The challenge here is to understand that we need to shift our thinking a bit. Like many improvement initiatives we see an increase in results in the beginning but then we reach a plateau of some type. This principal applies to many improvement initiatives. A good example of this is people who exercise regularly. For them to take their workouts and results to the next level they need to shock their muscles by doing something different with the original outcome in mind. From a BRM perspective both the business and the provider have to look at new ways of achieving goals. The trick here is to balance supply and demand, and that we (business and provider) work together to get to the next level.

Over the next few weeks I will post a new tidbit from the training and how it relates to what I have experienced. Feel free to send me questions, comments or any other feedback

Follow me on Twitter @ryanrogilvie or connect with me on LinkedIn