Relationship Maturity Model Case Study

British Council at the SITP Forum on the 22nd November

Gilbert Scott Associates, James O'Driscoll

Deborah Meredith and Richard Coldwell  presented their experiences of developing the BRM maturity model, to help in establish the IT business partnering team at the British Council.  The second half of the session split was into two groups to discuss where participants saw themselves on the maturity scale.  The aim of the interactive discussion was to link up and share insights between those who have made it to performing at a strategic level and those looking to move upwards.

Highlights from the session:

Recognise where you are – You can use building the Maturity Model to get consensus amongst your team.  What does really mean to be operating at a strategic level?  Honestly discuss how do you think you are performing right at that moment and reflect this as a baseline position on the model.

Breaking out the standard BRMI maturity model into themes allows the team to recognize where quick wins might be possible in some areas.  Other areas might require support from the wider IT team, such as Architecture and Portfolio Management; these can take longer to improve.

Set realistic targets with simple measures – Using the maturity model to check in with the team every 6 months and linking improvements to personal development objectives helps to keep the targets practical and grounded.  Better to give a sense of progress! 

Practical examples from the creation of the business partnering team at the British Council:

Relationships – We started with a poor understanding of stakeholders.  The business didn't know who to talk to in IT.  Performing some stakeholder mapping, targeted 1:1 engagement and attendance at key business meetings where possible was the first step.

Planning – IT strategy was loosely associated with business objectives through the corporate plan.  Consistent involvement in major programs and new demand management process was the first step towards presenting more meaningful view of IT strategy to business units.

Decision Making – Little or no means of prioritising with the business.  Start by building a bottom up view of what is important with key stakeholders and holding back anything reactive.

Benefits – Little or no visibility of costs of existing services at a level relevant to business unit.  Presenting costs and defining benefits in a consistent way was the first step.

Sharing some success - By focusing on key senior stakeholders, we started to build trust by ensuring agreed priorities were delivered.  We started to establish processes for continuous improvement, as major programs wrapped.  This created a more prominent role for business partners in change management.

Challenges we still face – Maintaining a balance between being helpful and getting overloaded; being firmer on funding for project management and analyst resourcing to initiate new work.  We are part of a supply chain... not free!  Continuing to push for “technical” programs to include change management resources.  Fostering closer working relationships with the Architecture team to introduce a design authority concept across lines of work.

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