Business Engagement – Objectives, Skills, Tips and Importance!

There are a lot of confusions towards the understanding of the role "Business Engagement" and a few key role such as "Business Relationship" and "Customer Relationship Management". Basically, Business Engagement can be viewed as Internal or External or even both. The main objective of Business Engagement is to ensure strong bond and relationship that help the internal or external organization business grow towards the company's vision and mission. Therefore, in order to be successful in this area, there are areas to focus or take note of which will be explained as we proceed.

In my past 20 years in the industries, I have never realized the power of "Business Engagement" role in an organization. Initially, I have the same confusions as many of you that "Business Engagement" is mainly meant "Business Relationship" or "Customer Relationship Management" in the real world.

But never had I realized that this is definitely not the case, Business Engagement is more than just a "Business Relationship" or "Customer Relationship Management" functionality. This entails more than what we always believed that it is in the latter two categories.

Here are some of the knowledge and experiences that I have gained through my role as a "Business Engagement Lead" for a Global Transformation project. It is not ranked in any order of importance but it does provide the insight for a successful Business Engagement role in any organization.

  1. Team Player instead of Lone Ranger
  2. Communication Skills
  3. Escalation versus Feedback
  4. Presentation Skills
  5. Different Mindset or Hat
  6. Technical Skills and Knowledge

The above mentioned skills are just some that I believe will be a plus point if anyone would like to consider a "Business Engagement" role in any organization. But these are not limited to the above as you may be able to find more in other sources of information. Please feel free to provide input on this if you feel that these are not the case as it may not apply to all or each and every situation.

1. Team Player instead of Lone Ranger

A lot of times, many misconceptions about Business Engagement is just a lone ranger in an organization but this is not the fact. All roles in an organization requires some form of team function. Business Engagement will require more team effort as it depends on a lot of other input source in order to facilitate the periodic updates to the Stakeholders in the company.

Business Engagement will have constant engagement with the Global Project Team, the different business function heads, the support group, the user group and even the local technology or supplier group too. Therefore, this role will require a very strong communication skill set, team building skill, facilitation skill, negotiation skill and also strategic mindset towards achieving the ultimate goals.

The key importance of this role is to ensure that your business stakeholders are well equipped or informed about the progress and status of the overall decision and direction within the business or transformation plan depending on the type of projects set forth.

2. Communication Skills

Why is communication skill so important for this role? Anybody has any thought of this? This may be 1 of the key area that will definitely determine your success rate in fulfilling the Business Engagement role. The term Communication is so widely used and who can define what exactly it means.

Communication skills is not just about talking or sharing, it is more towards on what should be put through for different categories of engagement. If we are in a tele-conference call, what will be the key communication skill required in order to put through your thoughts? Do we really need to strategize our discussion point? A very effective way of communication will definitely come with a pre-plan agenda. What would be the topics required to discuss and the end point results?

As long as we have all these in place, all communication within this discussion will be surrounded by the key topics according to the agenda. Although there are times, side track may occur and therefore, the chair person will have to manage this through proper communication skill set. Please remember that communication should lead to either a decision or end results either an Escalation on issues, locally resolved solution or probably just a feedback on current situation. This lead to the next topic on the list.

3. Escalation versus Feedback

There is a fine line between Escalation and Feedback in this case. Business Engagement usually will try to understand the Stakeholder concerns on particular topics. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the Business Engagement team to filter out the appropriate concerns and provide the channel of escalation for further investigation or resolution. This should be a transparent and visible escalation so that Stakeholder will understand and have confidence in the team.

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Escalation will require much more attention and shorter time frame to tackle compared to Feedback from the Stakeholders. This will obviously impact the Business operation, strategy and also support if not handled in extreme caution. In any organization, if there is a structured Business Escalation model managed by the Business Engagement team, it will definitely be a plus point in order to address the Stakeholders concerns.

Feedback is viewed as a on-going plus point towards the direction and understanding of the stakeholders view and this is definitely a factor towards a much more successful resolution. It will also help the top management to understand the ground concerns and areas.

4. Presentation Skills

In any role that you may be you will never be able to escape this criteria or requirement. You need to acquire or have this skill in order to put through your points to a bigger audience in a much more organized and structured manner.

Presentation is also the most efficient method to update any latest information or status of the subject matters. It will also provide a clear direction and solution towards certain expected ground queries. It provides an open discussion and feedback gathering environmetn too. Therefore, in order to be successful in this rolet, we must be equipped with this skill. Furthermore, not many people are comfortable to have an open presentation environment. Therefore, if anyone who is strong in this area for public speaking either internally or externally, you will definitely fit into this role easily.

5. Different Mindset or Hat

Business Engagement is also not as easy as we think it is for just providing all the named and defined skills. We must be able to put on different hat in order to understand and engaged in the different mentality mind of others. We must be able to speak at least the same language as the specific group engaged during that time.

Taking example for the Technical group meeting or discussion, Business Engagement role must also be able to speak the same language at least to understand and put through the stakeholder concerns and requirements. This will definitely help the Technical group to analyze and provide solutions towards the raised or escalated concerns. With this in mind, Business Engagement function role should be but not limited to the following mindset.

  1. Strategic mindset
  2. Operation mindset
  3. Support mindset
  4. User mindset
  5. Technology mindset
  6. Program / Project Management mindset
  7. "C" level mindset
  8. Supplier or Solution Partners mindset
  9. Change Management mindset

Here we are not encouraging you to be expert in all the above mindsets but at least you should be an all-rounder so that you will be able to engaged well with the different groups. My suggestion is to acquire at least 75% of the skills in a general manner, this will definitely position a stronger advantage over others who may only have the technical skill sets. With this in mind, you can delegate or utilize other resources to help you get through but must be with careful tracking and monitoring in order not to lose track the information flow.

6. Technical Skills and Knowledge

There are many debates and also confusions over the Technical Skills and knowledge possessed by the Business Engagement role in order to fulfill the function. Does it really help in fulfilling this role?

My personal opinion is that it may or may not be a key factor but definitely an advantage over any other who doesn't. But bear in mind that you may only use this skill in a specific group of people not the "C" level management or top management. This group will only be interested in the end results and resolutions, they are not concern with technical aspects and how this is going to be resolved.

Therefore, it will help just to provide some background information on how it will impact the business or the stakeholder if the technical topics are not catered or factored into consideration when dealing with the Stakeholder escalation.

This article is mainly targeting on what is the required skill sets, knowledge and attributes towards a successful Business Engagement role within any organization. It doesn't show case the exact differences between "Business Engagement" and "Business Relationship" and "Customer Relationship Management".

If you have any comments or inputs that you wish to correct or contribute, you are most welcome to do so as I am just sharing my experiences and knowledge of being a Business Engagement Lead. If you do wish to find out more, you can email me and I am more than willing to discuss further.

by Liak Meng Chong

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