In Business Partnering, we took some time out in December for an ‘End of Year Review’ meeting. December felt like a good time to reflect on the progress we’ve made so far and to identify where we might want to adjust our plans for 2019. The team started out at the beginning of last year with just a Head of Business Partnering at 50% (with Dubai Campus systems delivery still underway). We’ve now developed into a team of three Business Partners who are actively collaborating with five Professional Services departments to develop their technology roadmaps.
Recently, we ran a survey with senior officers across the University and their direct line reports to get a sense for whether the Business Partnering team has improved their understanding and perception of IT Services. It was good to see some very positive feedback from our partner areas including the following comments:
“IT Business Partner is always helpful and knowledgeable and I welcome the creation of the service. It is an excellent way of working. As the Business Partner role matures it would be helpful to work together on strategic plans and ensure alignment.”
“I have found our BP to be very responsive, helpful and flexible – it is a good model and one that seems to be working well for me and my team.”
“We have made great improvements in developing the relationship between Estates and IT over the last 12 months and I am sure this will continue to grow.”
“The IT Business Partner team is a really good innovation and we have had value already from them.”
What’s working well
We’re working well as a team –
We have all contributed to the team strategy and continue to bring new ideas/perspectives into our team plans. Our daily team standup meetings seem to be working well in ensuring we’re all up to date on University news and we are able to react quickly and spot trends early across our partner areas.
We’ve developed some key business relationships –
We’ve developed trust and have secured some strong business relationships much quicker than expected.
We’ve saved the University money –
We’ve encouraged the use of existing services where possible instead of procuring new solutions. We’ve also encouraged the rescheduling/reprioritising of projects to enable internal staff to work on projects rather than buying in additional temporary contract staff.
We’ve helped to make IT Services less confusing –
We’re helping our partner units to navigate IT Services more effectively. Using our knowledge of the IT teams, processes and language to simplify their interactions with the department.
Business Partner strategy –
We were quite optimistic and ambitious with how much we could achieve in 2018. We’ve managed to progress most of the strands on our BP roadmap – see: https://app.productplan.com/p/5Q4L1i4MboyKs55BQM2XH_NjLYoA6-NW
What do we want to improve in 2019?
IT Service Catalogue –
A key role of our team is to promote the benefits of our existing services. This hasn’t been as easy as it sounds given the large number of services we offer, and the large number of teams/individuals involved in them. We will be working closely with Service Management and Service Owners to ensure we fully understand the IT Service Catalogue and can present this to our partner areas in a format that is most useful to them.
Digital Strategy –
Our partner areas are well aware this has been missing for some time. Development of a coherent digital strategy and vision will help raise the reputation of IT Services as a Strategic Partner which will enable us to have more effective conversations on technology roadmaps.
More structured and efficient communications –
Whilst face-to-face meetings are especially important for building up new relationships they can be very time-consuming. We will be reviewing the frequency and type of meetings we’re having to see if we can be more efficient in this area next year. We are looking to trial Teams channels for updates/discussion in between face-to-face meetings. We’re also keen to start a monthly email update to our senior stakeholders to ensure they’re aware of general IT messages before we meet – this will enable us to make the most of the face-to-face time we have. We’ll also be trialling a physical Kanban board within the team to see if it makes our daily standup meetings more structured/efficient.
Benefits realisation –
This is the area of our BP roadmap in which we’ve made the less progress than we would have liked. It’s really important to check in on the benefits realised to: communicate our successes; learn lessons; feed into the prioritisation process for future projects. We’ve therefore blocked some time out in our diaries in January to make sure we’re progressing plans in this area.
As part of our end of year review activities we are also seeking feedback from within IT Services. A survey has been sent out to managers asking for feedback (as these are the roles with whom we interact with most frequently). If you’re not a line manager but would still like to give us some feedback then please see the survey here: https://intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/it/teams/partner/IT-internal-Business-Partner-Survey.aspx
You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or find us in the ERI open plan area.