Business Relationship Management for the Digital Enterprise


chapter 5. business relationship management: Catalyst for a digital revolution

Additional Information

This Chapter examines the foundations of Business Relationship Management (BRM), one of the key IT management innovations since the first data processing departments surfaced in the 1960s. It reviews the context for BRM and how this innovation came about. It also examines how the BRM role is evolving and discusses some of the thornier issues such as reporting lines, accountabilities, and job titles.

BRM has been gaining popularity as a key position that sits between a provider (most frequently IT) and its business partners. Sometimes called Business Relationship Manager, this role represents IT to the business and the business to IT. This is an internal role that should not be confused with the similarly titled externally-facing role common in banks and financial services organizations.

The most common BRM model includes these functions:

  • Stimulates, surfaces, and shapes business demand for IT projects, services, capabilities, and investments in order to maximize their business value. This means taking a proactive role in educating business partners, suppressing demand for low value activities, while stimulating demand for high value activities.
  • Contributes to business strategy and planning as a member of both business and IT leadership teams.
  • Identifies how information and IT can support and advance business objectives and helps translate demand into supply.
  • Helps create project and program charters
  • Oversees initiatives and helps manage business process change to ensure that the value predicted by a business case is actually realized.
  • Monitors business partner customer experience, and facilitates continuous improvement in that experience.

Driving Value Realization

Driving value realization might be the most important competency for a BRM. It includes knowing how to surface, clarify, and promote the best value-delivering opportunities for IT investments and assets, and how to ensure that these actually deliver on their promised value—delivered in ways that are felt and seen. 

This requires skills in program, product and portfolio management, influence and persuasion, finance, and organizational change.