Defining Business Relationship Management (BRM)
These are interesting times and moments like these bring along better opportunities as well. The virtual environment has accelerated the adoption of digital transformation along with introduction of new technology trends. These changes clubbed with the need to stay relevant and ahead of the game has necessitated the presence of a well-oiled system to create an affiliation between the IT function and the business functions of an organization and further strengthen their relationship. This is the primary role that the Business Relationship Management (BRM) plays as a capability, role, or function.
BRM isn’t anything new in the organizational context. It may have a received a formal nomenclature over the last decade, but several components of the function have existed under other names. In fact, BRM is not just a linear function but a strategic approach through which the organizations can create more collaboration, innovation, and drive efficiencies. BRM doesn’t just rationalize and shape business demand for the products and services, it endeavors that the potential business value from those products and services is captured, analyzed, and communicated. Business Relationship Managers (BRMs) are expected to have a view of both the business and the technology landscape, they should be able to ask relevant questions, identify opportunities for the IT function to add strategic value to the businesses and work with cross-functional teams to execute on those opportunities. BRMs are expected to shift the organizational mindset from “doing the job” to “achieving the results.”
Why do companies need a well-defined BRM model?
For the new and innovative technology alternatives to operate efficiently for business and the relationship to contribute towards achieving overall organizational objectives, there are few opportunities where IT and business can collaborate better, like:
This is where a well-thought out and clearly defined BRM model can play a vital role. Business Relationship Managers (BRMs) can work with both teams to identify top level priorities, educates business leaders about the benefits new technologies can provide, and endeavors that true business value is achieved when new tools or products are deployed. BRMs go one step ahead and analyze the existing technology portfolio and projects to identify inefficiencies in a process or system. With their skills and acumen, they can then help by setting effective strategies, goals and metrics leading to better convergence and synergy between IT and business teams.
BRMs can shape the way IT budget is spent by businesses for deriving required value. They also collaborate at a higher level on ideation, evaluation of plans, developing two-way communication, and ultimately moving the relationship between IT and businesses from tactical to strategic.
Why has a BRM role become more significant in the digital transformation?
The pandemic compelled organizations to investigate and implement creative digital alternatives so they could continue their business functions remotely, just as smoothly and efficiently as before, and serve their clients effectively. Even prior to the pandemic, businesses were looking at technology to build broad customer relationships, provide flexibility to employees, and improve automation. As organizations’ dependence increases further on IT to run their business, BRM becomes essential to underpin digital transformation.
To stay relevant, organizations need a good mix of visionaries, strategists, collaborators, planners, and executors. This is where BRMs can be the differentiators as they can blend business acumen with technical knowledge and specialization to aid in making futuristic decisions.
The effectiveness of Business Relationship Management in an organization
The effectiveness of Business Relationship Management is linked to the role definition of BRM at an organization. It is critical to define the BRM role holistically, to integrate it effectively into the organizational culture and goals. Some organizations perceive BRMs as gap fillers, but if BRMs are positioned as strategic business partners, they can have a far-reaching impact on the business outcomes.
A BRMs most important function is to help prioritize the IT initiatives as per their potential to generate immediate results and generate required value. An effective/competent Business Relationship Management professional brings along a variety of skills, knowledge, and experience, including project management, client service, business acumen, and strong interpersonal communication skills. When these are combined with high emotional intelligence (EQ) in BRM professionals, they come across as collaborators and are able to advance organizational objectives.
BRM maturity model
Before establishing a BRM function, the organization needs to define a BRM maturity model for the function along with a plan for climbing up the stages. It is crucial for organizations to move from ad-hoc tactical execution to value-driven collaborations. IT needs to evolve from being a need-based order taker to a trusted strategic advisor. And the most critical factor in bringing this shift is the commitment from leadership and a top-down approach.
An effective BRM capability can converge cross functional teams and drive a culture of leadership-level collaboration, innovation, and shared ownership to create value-focused strategies that help deliver the intended business objectives. The importance of BRM in the digital transformation era isn’t going anywhere, it will only increase and will become integral for the organizations to become relationship centered and effective.
Sonali has 21+ years of Information Technology (IT) experience as a transformational technology leader with an excellent track record of leading technology organizations and new product and service launches. She has been consistently recognized by customers and colleagues as a strategic and influential leader who works with integrity and a spirit of excellence. She has over 18+ years of experience with Deloitte and is a specialist in setting up businesses and managing some of the large complex portfolio and programs. She has extensive experience across geographies from IT app development, program and portfolio management, IT support to IT infrastructure and operations. She has been working as an IT Business Relationship leader and her specialization includes Technology Strategy, Business Transformation, Program and Portfolio Management, Account Management, Business and Change management.