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What business partners in Parliament do

Post its on a wall

World Business Relationship Management (BRM) Week is here, although it’s not one of the weeks observed by the United Nations and I’m not seeing many cards in the shops. I can only assume it’s because people don't know what business relationship managers do.

So let me take this opportunity to explain a little bit about BRM and the approach we take in PDS.

Business partners

In Parliament, we call ourselves business partners. We act as the interface between the different parts of the organisation and a shared or central function. In our case, we provide digital services to the Commons and the Lords, and HR or finance are examples of shared functions.

Like many organisations, Parliament does a lot of things covering diverse areas. It’s a legislative body and a tourist attraction but we also have HR, security, banqueting, research functions and loads more. All the areas need a range of digital tools.

Connectors, orchestrators, navigators

The aim of our business partner team is to create an environment where colleagues across Parliament understand the need to work together to meet their goals.

This means understanding the aspirations of each area of our business. We work with them to see where technology can help with their work and check that they have access to the tools they need.

We act as a "connector" making sure that relationships exist between PDS and colleagues outside of PDS. We also try and connect people from different areas who we think should talk to each other.

We’re also "orchestrators". This means we coordinate and look at demand from the areas we deal with. We then discuss with digital colleagues if, how, and when we can make things happen.

We also need to be "navigators". So we need to make sure that the work we do helps other teams and departments with their aspirations.

Challenges of the job

One of the main challenges we face is getting colleagues to think about what they need in the future. Especially as they’re busy doing the day to day work. This is a difficult balancing act and, as a team, we’ve probably spent more time dealing with technical issues than we would like.

Another challenge is changing the perception of what business partners do. We want to move away from being seen as a service provider and being told “I want this”, to a relationship where we’re engaged in conversations which start with “I want to be able to do this”.

As a team, we need to appreciate that not all parts of the organisation have the same requirements and we need to adapt accordingly. For example, some parts of Parliament want to be able to do their work as efficiently as possible, while others want to be transformative and do things in a different way.

This type of role is really interesting because of these sorts of challenges. As a dedicated team, we can overcome these by being committed to the success of the digital service and Parliament, while accepting that the changes we're making will take time and effort to work.

If you’d like more info about what we do or if you’re in a similar role in your organisation, we’d love to hear from you.

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  1. Comment by Greg Turner posted on

    Good blog Gavin. Digital transformation will succeed if it is all inclusive and I can see the PDS has that very much in mind. User needs at the forefront of the business is critical when moving towards digital working as the work in Parliament is transforming from a paper based workplace into a digital workplace. if all partners are moving in the same direction then anything is possible for the future. It is exciting times.

    • Replies to Greg Turner>

      Comment by Claudia Rock posted on

      An informative read. Thanks Gavin.

  2. Comment by George Pavlides posted on

    Nicely explained. Thanks Gavin