The Biggest BRM Challenge – Moving from Order Taker to Strategic Partner

brmI recently held a Karen’s Conversations with Andie Kis in which we discussed how IT could market its value to the rest of the business. During this conversation, we digressed a little and started talking about the role of the Business Relationship Manager (BRM).

You can watch the video here.

The BRM Role

I mentioned that I had recently undertaken my Business Relationship Management Professional (BRMP) certification and that it had taught me a lot about the role of the BRM.

Prior to taking the certification, most of what I had learned about BRM was from publications such as ITIL® Service Strategy and BRM implementation and adoption in various organisations I have worked within.

The ITIL Service Strategy publication states “Business relationship management is the process that enables BRMs to provide links between the service provider and customers at the strategic and tactical levels”. However, in my experience I have mostly seen the role operating at a tactical or operational level in a similar guise to service level management.

This could be due to very few IT service management entities or service management offices being located in a strategic position within IT. As a result business relationship management operates out of a tactical or operational position and getting a seat at a strategic level is nigh on impossible.

Strategic v Tactical BRM

I think the situation is well described in the BRMP® Guide to the BRM Body of Knowledge which compares the strategic and tactical BRM roles. It states

“The former operates in the context of business strategy and provider initiatives intended to enact business strategy. The latter tends to operate in the context of service management and is primarily concerned with steady state services”.

It goes on to describe both the strategic and the tactical BRM.

“The strategic BRM is usually a senior member of the Provider organization—often a Director or Vice President level executive—interfacing with business unit heads and senior executives. Their focus is value realization and tends to emphasize initiatives (projects, programs, investments) intended to enact business strategy.

The tactical BRM is usually a senior business analyst, qualified in Service Management and interfacing with mid-level business unit managers and staff. They are mostly concerned with Service Management. Excellence in Service Management (and therefore the importance of the tactical BRM role) is crucial for the Strategic BRM role to gain traction. As it is said, “It is hard for the strategic BRM to gain a seat at the business strategy table when the lights don’t stay on or the trains don’t run on time!” The tactical BRM, as a key Service Management resource, helps ensure that “the lights stay on and the trains run on time!”

The latter is the role that I see filled in most organisations.

The Business Relationship Maturity Model (BRMM)


The Business Relationship Maturity Model (BRMM) depicts a 5-level relationship maturity continuum, where the uppermost (5th) level is the ideal state where the Business-Provider relationship fulfills the aspirations of both the Provider and its Business Partner.

Moving from Level 1 (Ad-hoc) to Level 5 (Strategic Partner)

So, how does the BRM move from ad-hoc to strategic partner?

The BRM body of knowledge suggests the following.



So it is not an easy challenge to address but for the organisation to truly realise the benefits of business relationship management, it is a journey that has to be undertaken.

The organisation at large is the ultimate beneficiary of improved relationships and converged business capabilities holistically across the value chain, optimising value to the organisation and to its customers. Business Relationship Management cultivates and forms the connective tissue focusing value chain partners on common objectives and shared goals. Without it, the organisation will consist of silos.

You can find out more in my conversation with Aaron Barnes – CEO and Co-Founder of the Business Relationship Management Institute (BRMI).

Join the Macanta Mailing List to receive our latest news and information about upcoming events.