The BRM Function

I was recently asked if I had any insights into what roles (titles) are commonly used in companies and organizations to fulfill the BRM function.  This individual commented that the BRM function is one that they wholeheartedly support, but were finding that investing in a resource that is exclusively focused on that is something that companies either can’t afford (legitimately) or that they struggle to justify the cost for the position.

Finding the suitable individual with the proper skill set to fulfill the Business Relationship Management (BRM) role can certainly be a challenge.  One thing to recognize is that the BRM job role function is dual fold.  This person represents first and foremost the customer.  They must be familiar with intimate details regarding customer needs, expectations and preferences.  On the other side the BRM also will liaise with the business to ensure that the service provider can fulfill those customer needs.  This is sometimes more of an art than a skill set.

Some organizations will take those individuals who have Service Level Management (SLM) roles and give them the "hat" of BRM.  This becomes a challenge because the SLM role and responsibilities is tactical and operational while the BRM role is more strategic with some tactical responsibilities throughout the service life cycle.  Having one individual perform both of these roles works best when this is recognized as an interim solution.  As each process and role matures the amount of rigor and a more clear delineation of responsibilities will be recognized.  Depending on the size of the organization, this could also serve as a permanent solution.  

Another role that might be conducive to fulfill the responsibilities of the BRM is that of Service Owner.   The Service Owner is generally more business centric but has a good background and understanding of components, processes and elements that will be required for the end-to-end service to fulfill business and customer outcomes. 

The challenge with any one individual taking on the responsibility of BRM and another role in IT is that they do not get pulled so far down into the day to day operational tasks and IT details that they are not able to look at things from a strategic business and customer perspective.   It can be successful if clearly defined processes and roles are defined and governed properly. 

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