Why You Should Care About Business Enablement Managed Services (BEMS)

Business Enablement Managed Services (BEMS) is a service that combines business consulting – specifically in the strategy and operations fields – with training and coaching of clients. Otto Acuna explains why this matters in the age of digital disruption.

business enablement managed services

Client-driven demand for an easy, managed way to handle automation has proven useful as it has resulted in the emergence of Business Enablement Managed Services (BEMS). BEMS is a service that combines business consulting – specifically in the strategy and operations fields – with training and coaching of clients. In the context of the types of IT capacities we provide mainly through cloud services, implementation is very agile with low up-front investment.

The move into BEMS started in 2013, when a Management Consulting Services client asked for help to implement a number of recommendations we had made to improve and to implement some technologies to automate processes. They wanted to benefit from the recommendations, but did not have the capacity to implement them and so asked for help.

The proposal from the client sounded intriguing, because it not only involved implementing a tech platform and operating it, it also meant being accountable for the process, its value creation, its evolution and validity for the organization. Normally, outsourcing engagements are based on a very well-defined SLA that states the activities and operations to perform, as well as the way in which these services will be measured and evaluated.

The difference here was that the SLA would be defined in terms of the business objectives and goals the company wanted to reach and the “how” was left to us because of the trust this client had in us. This meant that the provider was responsible for the achievement of the goals the client set and the validity, value and performance of whatever was done to attain those goals.

Naming and defining this service was tricky, since it involves consulting, outsourcing, training, sometimes coaching and/or controlling, and if it involves technological platforms, also management of IT services, both cloud and non-cloud platforms. In the end the name that best summed up the service was Business Enablement Managed Services or BEMS for short.

BEMS involves what is usually needed to get traction in developing a critical business capability, whether it is digital transformation, digital mindset and culture, decision making based in analytics, enabling more human productivity using automation, functioning as a hyper learning organization or attaining internal or external compliance.

Each of all these concepts are very big on their own, and have usually involved the coordination of activities, people, technologies and processes that have required guidance (management consulting in strategy and operations), training and co-working with client’s internal personnel, coaching as the client starts assimilating the new capabilities and eventually monitoring, controlling and maintenance of the new capabilities at top performance and alignment with the end results required.

What BEMS is and What it isn’t

BEMS services might involve completely operating a capability – similar to outsourcing in that regard – or doing it temporarily as an additional support while the client goes through a learning and assimilation curve and acquires the capability, at which point the BEMS service evolves into coaching, monitoring and controlling in order to ensure the internal resources do not lose track or impulse towards the end goals.

What is completely different from other professional, IT or transactional services is the level of engagement, involvement and accountability BEMS involves. Let’s compare our view on four different types of service and the extent of the accountability on them. This list is not comprehensive and is focused in showing the differences for the purpose of this article:

LEVEL OF DEFINITION OF THE PROBLEM ROLE OF CLIENT’S DECISION MAKER TYPE OF SERVICE NATURE AND EXTENT OF ACCOUNTABILITY FOR THE PROVIDER IN THE AGREEMENT
  • Business goals to attain.
  • Symptoms of the problem
  • Root cause identified (optional)
  • Tentative solutions identified
  • Explaining the issues and the end goals required by the organization.
  • Sometimes, involvement in the validation of the approach (depends on methodology used)
  • Strategy/ Process / Management Consulting
  • Typically a project, with an entry phase, a diagnosis, some design / creative work for devising solutions and a closure after recommendations have been identified.
  • Optionally, a follow up project with support for the implementation of the recommendations.
  • The service provider remains independent and does not act in roles that are internal to the organization (can guide but the execution is internal)
  • Business goals to attain.
  • Symptoms of the problem
  • Root cause identified (optional)
  • Tentative solutions identified
  • When calling for IT Consulting or Managed services, the level of definition for the expected solution is much higher with operational expectations usually well known.
  • The decision maker knows what needs to be done but needs the technical capability to implement and/or operate according to specifications given by the client’s organization.
  • IT Consulting / IT Managed Services
  • Recommend the right tool or technology according to area of expertise
  • Implement the tool or technology (may have been identified as part of a previous engagement or be given as an already made decision)
  • When operating the IT solutions, making sure it runs well and according to specifications / recommendations.
  • Once running well, whether the solution impacts business in the desired manner is out of scope.
  • A process, solution, platform or software has been identified
  • There is clarity regarding the operational or technical specifications under which such solution must run or comply.
  • The optimal running state of process, platform or solution is well known, and drafted in a Service Level Agreement that states in detail how this should run and the metrics required to ensure the service runs to specs.
  • Outsourcing
  • The agreement, in this case the SLA, states the operational requirements the provider must comply with, the metrics to be attained from the execution and the protocol when the service is out of specs.
  • Once the contracted service is running within the specified specs, whether this impacts business in any manner is out of scope.
  • Provider accountability is centered in the operational agreement.
  • Business goals to attain
  • The symptoms, problems and/or root causes are not necessarily identified identified (optional)
  • Tentative solutions or ideas may be given (optional)
  • Usually focused on business goals to be attained.
  • May or may not have preference for the type of solution or route to attain goals.
  • Sometimes, involvement in the validation of the approach (depends on type of service under BEMS approach)
  • Business Enablement Managed Services (BEMS)
  • The provider may explain the plan, the project(s) to be implemented, the technologies to be used and other implementation or operational aspects, but ultimately, BEMS is accountable for the attainment of the business goals.
  • There is a combination of roles that trespass independence, since sometimes may co-execute, assume entirely, coach, monitor, control and even change approach in order to support the attainment of end business goals.
  • Work is less predictable, as the different roles are within a plan that can be flexible in favor of goal attainment.

Ultimately, BEMS is accountable for the attainment of the business goals.

Why should you care about this?

Currently, most companies are very involved in what we call the “Disruption Race”. Whether it is digital transformation, innovation, differentiation or any other form of competitive edge that will allow an organization to serve better or in a more profitable way his clients or users, every company is trying to avoid being outpaced by its peers or new entrants in its competitive space.

Why BEMS Matters in the Age of Digital Disruption

What industry 4.0 will bring is a world that has two types of players: the disrupting and the disrupted. And no one wants to be in the second group. As the speed change is happening, organizations are being pressured to move at a speed they were not used to and attributes or characteristics that before were positive (size, scale, technology acquired) now are at risk of becoming a disadvantage to being flexible and moving fast. That’s why many companies are relying on a contingent workforce to give them that competitive edge.

Contractors form, along with internal personnel and now robotics, the new hybrid workplace that needs to interact seamlessly. The new technologies and capacities come and go, and organizations are regularly using contingent workers, consultants, outsourcing providers and IT Managed Services to gain agility, speed and competitiveness.

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In this already crowded space, there are now BEMS providers, and services, which go an extra mile not in what they do, but in what they are accountable for. In terms of attaining business goals, BEMS represent a real partnership with providers in getting things done and obtaining the business benefits and goals the client needs.

This new service model comes with challenges of its own. Topics such as the billing and financial model (because of the variability of what BEMS can become), the accountability, the correct ethical behavior, the intermediation with technology platforms or providers, etc. are things that need to be resolved to be able to provide real value in a competitive manner.

In different studies, organizations and decision makers have stated their desire for this type of model, and the ball has been in the provider’s court to understand, assimilate and decide what to offer.

Our journey into Industry 4.0 is just starting, despite what many may claim. And this hybrid workplace, as well as the usage of external providers to support business goals at an agile speed is here to stay. In our view, is in everyone’s best interest to understand and utilize the type of agreement that best suit your needs at a specific moment. BEMS is not better, but it is different.

Whether or not BEMS is for you depends solely in your organization’s conditions, but the awareness and understanding of the different provision models are key to you as CEO, CFO, HRO, CIO or any other decision maker role you may have.

We would like to hear your opinion and thoughts on BEMS, as this is a relatively new provision model. Send me a private email or leave a comment on what you think.

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