Is BRM the only way to save business IT?

Business Relationship Management is increasingly recognised as an important tool for connecting departments with corporate objectives.  But this underplays the massive role that BRM will play in fixing the problems that have blighted IT for too long.

According to research highlighted by, more than half of IT projects fail.  Even more of a concern is that fact that things aren’t getting any better, with these figures actually slightly worse than they were three years ago.

We can’t even blame a lack of IT project managers according to the research, because apparently staff of this type are plentiful.  People are often the overlooked agent when considering IT success and failure, but if there are enough individuals within the business whose primary aim is to safeguard projects, what is left to blame? 

What is the project manager doing wrong?
Project managers are typically IT people with an aptitude for organisation and communication who have worked their way up through the ranks.  While they may posses the right traits for managing projects, they are still IT people first and foremost, which means they naturally act in a way that supports the best interests of the department they represent.  This IT-first mentality is the first major reason for the current state of IT project management. 

The second problem is about perception and cooperation.  IT projects need can’t work in isolation, they have to deliver something of value to the business, and the only way to do this involves working with the business, to understand and ultimately change its way of using technology.  But when they business talks to IT project manager, their perception is they are talking to an IT person, not someone who wants to make their life easier, or help them work more efficiently.

BRM – the missing layer
This is why Business Relationship Management is so crucial for reversing the trend of IT project failure.  Business Relationship Managers are by definition neutral in terms of departmental allegiance.  Their main aim is to ensure that the various factors and elements within the business work harmoniously for one purpose: achieving corporate objectives.  The BRM won’t be overly concerned about the various motives and frustrations of each department.  Yes, they will endeavour to fix barriers and overcome problems, but they will do so from a perspective that doesn’t favour any individual or business unit. 

Project managers will still exist – we will always need people who can look after the nuts and bolts of IT projects.  But unlike now when we see IT projects being managed in isolation, only referring back to the corporate agenda in the form of a forgotten briefing document, BRM will ensure that every stage of the project is funnelled towards achieving the desired outcome.

IT projects fail because the despite best intentions, enthusiasm for its purpose quickly gets pushed down the agenda as the practicalities hit home.  It’s easy being ambitious in a board meeting, harder to maintain when resistance is met.  BRM is the tool which will help eliminate this barriers and ensure IT projects have a laser focus on their original purpose.

Want to know more about BRM? Take a look at our beginner’s guide to Business Relationship Management here>.

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Simon Kent
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