In my recent blog entry, I talked about the future of the traditional IT organization and the need for sound governance and processes in the implementation of IT solutions, especially if they are leveraged through cloud and outsourced solution suppliers.\nIT service management (ITSM) and IT infrastructure library (ITIL) have become the dominant approach and best practices for operational excellence in most IT organizations. Yet, I question why so many have implemented only four or five of the 26 defined ITIL 2011 processes given the strength and magnitude of guidance that the ITIL IT service lifecycle provides.\nThe shift in priority for IT to address the Ggovernance gap will require process strength in business relationship management and supplier management. The front and back door of an IT organization is managing customers and suppliers so, even if you aren\u2019t quite ready to build the IT organization of the future, these practices are equally as important as the more commonly implemented processes of change management and incident management.\nBusiness relationship management\nBusiness relationship management (BRM) is the process that is responsible for maintaining a business relationship with the IT Customers. This process helps quantify and communicate how well IT is performing and articulate the value of its services. It is also the method used to gather input from the customers and users to properly understand the need for different services levels or determine required changes to existing IT services.\nMany organizations claim to have BRM in place, but, from my experience, most BRM approaches are actually individuals or groups that represent an application team whose primary job is to gather requirements and provide high-level support for key applications. They are not true representatives of IT and are not able to fully present how IT is performing in terms that the business understands. Also, they often do not gather the greater IT requirements and feedback on SLAs, costs, and performance.\nIt is also important to note that BRM is not a substitute for the Service Desk and is not the communications method to use when an executive has an issue with their PC.\nAt a high level, a good business relationship management process:\n\nCreates a better working relationships between IT customers and the IT organization\nProvides regular visibility into the positive performance of IT, instead of only reviewing performance when there is a negative event such as an outage\nEnables IT to truly understand the needs of the business from a business perspective\nOpens a channel of communications to review priorities, service level performance, and changes needed to IT services\nProvides a point of escalation\nSupports the discussion to develop realistic service level agreements between IT and the business supplier management\n\nSupplier\u00a0management\nAs IT organizations develop a heavy reliance on third party providers, it is necessary to have a well thought out and closely monitored supplier management process.\nListening to the business and defining services that are in-line with the expectations of the business is not worth the effort if you delegate the IT solutions to suppliers who do not perform as expected. Unfortunately, most attention to the supplier relationship usually only occurs when an issue arises or upon annual reviews. This reactive management is suboptimal and could push the enterprise into compromising positions.\nWhen third party providers fail miserably, often the only recourse in a contract is to cancel a contract early. Many IT solutions cannot be moved quickly, easily and cheaply. Therefore, an organization is often stuck in a poor situation for a lengthy period of time.\nBy having a robust supplier management process, much risk can be minimized. Contracts can be evaluated before being signed to ensure they have terms to meet certain service levels tied to the organizations IT services. Financial penalties tied to critical performance levels and proper reporting can also be included in a key contract. As contracts get implemented, supplier management will validate vendor\u2019s performance on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis and create a channel of communications to ensure that services do not degrade to a point where there is a noticeable impact to the IT User.\nMany of these activities of a supplier management process are not covered by most organization\u2019s contract management process and therefore do not provide the value the IT organization requires. At a high level, a good supplier management process should:\n\nEnsure that providers are keeping to their commitments and providing services and capabilities that meet service levels expectations\nHelp implement contracts that includes proper terms including service levels and penalties that are appropriate to the services being delivered to the business\nProvide quick identification and resolution of problems, minimizing the potential for larger contractual issues (and surprises)\nProvide an objective evaluation of performance, ensuring a level playing field for all suppliers (in any \u201cvalue\u201d assessment)\nStrengthen supplier relationships with continuous performance and executive awareness\nProvide financial benefits or lower costs through continued contract review, supplier consolidation and optimization\nIncrease control and predictability of cost for the Enterprise\nEnsure compliance with external audit and internal governance requirements\nProvide a more informed supplier strategy moving forward\n\nFinally, another great reason to implement a supplier management process is after signing a vendor contract, resources can diminish, and focus may move elsewhere (usually supporting business objectives). Given that changes in a business environment are going to happen over the contract\u2019s life, causing a direct impact on service decisions, it is imperative to have a supplier management process oversight that takes over where implementation process leaves off.\nSo ask yourself, is your IT organization truly in sync with the what the business needs and are there periodic communications to discuss IT service requirements, service level needs and costs? If so, is this conversation a reasonable two-way communication where IT and the business discuss the relationship and reality of IT service capabilities versus costs and service levels? Are service providers helping you achieve the goals of IT service value?\nIf you have some thoughts or opinions on the subject, please take a moment to share it. Thanks in advance!