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The 5 steps to become a successful Business liaison

I had the wonderful opportunity to give a keynote speech on Business Process Management (BPM) at The Mastering SAP Technologies event in Sydney, Australia. Apart from the wonderful experience put together by the Eventful Management team and the blue Sydney skies, it was great to meet hundreds of SAP community members and quite a few SAP mentors, including fellow ASUG volunteers like Karin (pronounced Kaa-rin) Tillotson, Gretchen Lindquist, Paul Kurchina, and Abbe Mulders.

The keynote session was about how to adopt BPM as a holistic discipline and not isolated sets of projects involving modeling or execution. As a part of the session, I shared the 5 key steps for individuals who have the opportunity of working closely with the business [Business Process Experts, Business Architects, Analysts, Business Relationship Managers, etc], to become a successful liaison between business and IT. The 5 steps in order are:

1. Forge a genuine relationship:  Whether you build the relationship over years by consistently delivering world-class solutions or by having a cup of coffee after work, it’s critical that individuals who work closely with the business build trust and sense of partnership with their clients. While it might seem like a daunting task, business clients are individuals, just like us who want others to look out for them. Build one genuine relationship at a time.

2. Market IT: Once you build that relationship and have them realize you are actually looking out for their welfare, make them see ‘a day in the life of IT’. Once they realize we are individuals who trying our best to make ends meet, just like everyone else, the so called frustration on IT not delivering their expectations will tend to reduce.

3. Be the eyes & ears of IT: Ask their permission to sit-in in a ‘listen only’ mode at business strategy discussions [that might have nothing to do with technology]. This will help you understand their challenges that otherwise not come up during regular IT project discussions. Be the eyes and ears of IT within the rest of the organization.

4. Collaborate amongst peers: Make it a regular event to meet with others within your organization with similar roles as yourself to discuss alignment (or lack thereof) between business units and their goals. This might bring up opportunities or avoid future risks to IT [and the business].

5. Communicate: Share what you have learned from bullet points 3 & 4 as lunch & learn sessions or architecture road-show presentations to rest of the IT organization. Make IT see the broad challenges that business clients go through to keep the business running.

If you adapt the above 5 steps, I’m optimistic that you’ll be on your way to becoming the rock star of your organization. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

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  • You have written the gist very succintly.

    I find point 3 to be the a very important but (sadly) neglected aspect of an IT consultant’s role. By implementing point 3, the IT person can really help Business by providing high-level solutions which really generate value, and not just solve a problem!