BRMs: the CIO’s new change agent

The role of the business relationship manager can be summarized in one word: change. Begin by defining the BRM role.

The BRM role is evolving; we don’t know the end state. The need to stimulate, surface, and shape demand has never been stronger. Blockchain is starting to walk. AI is getting smarter. And consumer tech is almost friendly. The transformational nature of change is the realization of strategies, plans, and budgets. How we define the role of the change agent directly correlates to the pace of adoption. In this case, the change agent is the business relationship manager.

Footprints of tomorrow’s future

The Business Relationship Management Professional (BRMP), offered by the Business Relationship Management Institute (BRM Institute), is the foundational certification for business relationship managers. The Business Relationship Management Institute was founded in 2013 and, in 2014, published the first edition of the BRMP Guide to the BRM Body of Knowledge, aka the BRMBOK. The first BRMP training for certification was also held in 2014.

For many of us, we recall a similar journey of the Project Management Professional (PMP), offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), as the gold standard for project managers. PMI published the first edition of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide in 1996. (Yes, we know the first PMP was awarded in 1984.) If your organization was an innovative leader and had PMPs minted just five years after the first formal PMBOK was published, they’d have earned their certification in 2001. In parallel, if the BRMs in your organization were equally innovative, they’ll be BRMP-certified by 2019. Consider your past hiring experience. How many PMPs you have met that were certified in 2001 or earlier? It’s a rare find. Likewise, BRMP is following a similar trajectory. Change agents see the correlation and are educating themselves and their teams.

Defining the role

Everyone wants to be ‘that’ change agent. The BRM leading discussions is closely aligned with providers and business partners and drives these strategic discussions. To achieve success, the BRM must have accountability. Success originates in the organization’s formal BRM roles and responsibilities.

The BRM Institutes defines the BRM role as one that “stimulates, surfaces and shapes business demand for a provider’s products and services and ensures that the potential business value from those products and services is captured, optimized and communicated.” The role is further elaborated into three types of BRMs: connectors (influencing), orchestrators (coordinating), and navigators (facilitating).

You’re likely thinking, “Isn’t this akin to an IT liaison?” Not exactly. This role is much more strategic, and BRMs are empowered by leadership to provide recommendations.

Two areas broadly shape BRM roles: the “House of the BRM” and BRM Competencies.

The house of the BRM has four pillars to support the execution of the role:

  1. Demand shaping: stimulates, surfaces, and shapes business demand
  2. Exploring: identifies and rationalizes demand
  3. Servicing: proactively identifies services and service levels to manage business-partner expectations
  4. Value harvesting: influencing for full value realization

BRM competencies define the skills, traits, and behavior of successful individuals in the role:

  1. Strategic partneringbuilding credibility and partnerships
  2. Business IQ: growing knowledge and understanding of the business partner
  3. Portfolio management: value realization from products, services, interactions, assets, and capabilities
  4. Provider domain: optimization of service management
  5. Powerful communications: conveying intention for mutual understanding of risk and reward
  6. Business transition management: managing process improvements and enabling new business capabilities

20 responsibilities for BRMs

Whether we’re talking about project management, architecture, or human resources, how a role is defined varies widely by organization. The following are twenty responsibilities we’ve found to be critical to BRM success:

  1. Ensure that solutions and services deliver expected business value.
  2. Partner in provider leadership.
  3. Identify and translate business partner needs into strategic roadmaps and executable portfolios of activities.
  4. Define business needs and priorities to inform the strategy for delivering systems capabilities within the business-partner organization.
  5. Translate business needs into effective and improved processes and/or technical solutions or services by coordinating resources from the associated IT Department.
  6. Stimulate, surface, and shape IT demand from business-partner stakeholders, and identify, prioritize, and rationalize demand for business-partner alignment.
  7. Understand the processes, plans, objectives, drivers, and issues related to the business area together with appropriate external policies and regulations.
  8. Contribute the systems aspects of business strategy development, bringing business opportunities through technology and business knowledge.
  9. Keep abreast of technology trends and applicability to business partners.
  10. Participate in industry peer groups to understand industry trends.
  11. Develop strategic roadmaps for information technology systems that align to business-capability enablement or improvement.
  12. Expand adoption of existing technology, where appropriate, to leverage enterprise solutions that meet or exceed business-partner demands.
  13. Develop and socialize realistic IT roadmaps for business partners.
  14. Elaborate business cases and define the realization of business-partner value.
  15. Co-own the business processes in collaboration with business partners, and mature the business process models using industry standards to identify changes: political, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental.
  16. Play the role of the business-area function representative and subject-matter advisor when required.
  17. Lead and secure adoption of continuous improvement efforts, e.g., Six Sigma, Lean, Kaizen) to transform business partners’ capabilities for fitness-for-purpose and fitness-for-use.
  18. Confirm Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with the business function and ensure that agreed services are being delivered to requirements; analyze and monitor the SLA impact of service changes.
  19. Manage business-partner compliments and complaints to enable continuous improvement.
  20. Proactively advise on technology options and innovation for the business area function.

Why shared ownership matters

Achieving business transformation depends on culture. BRMs shift organizational mindsets from “doing the job” to “achieving the results.” The team dynamics and interactions are the same—the results aren’t. Doing the job means achieving the result.

Organizational alignment demands job clarity, which requires shred ownership to execute effectively. BRM success is linked to organizational BRM role definition. Remove the guesswork for your employees and properly define the BRM role to integrate seamlessly into your company’s culture.

Make change easy to understand. BRMs are the primary business-partner change agent. And the change beings with you.


You’ve read about building your intelligence (ability to know) and your emotional intelligence (ability to feel) but what about your learning intelligence (ability to learn)?

Now Available!

Peter B. Nichol, empowers organizations to think different for different results. You can follow Peter on Twitter or his personal blog Leaders Need Pancakes or Peter can be reached at pnichol [dot]

Peter is the author of Learning Intelligence: Expand Thinking. Absorb Alternative. Unlock Possibilities (2017), which Marshall Goldsmith, author of the New York Times No. 1 bestseller Triggers, calls “a must-read for any leader wanting to compete in the innovation-powered landscape of today.”

Peter also authored The Power of Blockchain for Healthcare: How Blockchain Will Ignite The Future of Healthcare (2017), the first book to explore the vast opportunities for blockchain to transform the patient experience.

Previous articleWhy high-performance business relationship managers embrace learning intelligence
Next articleBreaking down artificial intelligence to form a starting point for adoption
Peter is a technology executive with 19 years of experience, dedicated to driving innovation, digital transformation, leadership, and data in business. He helps organizations connect strategy to execution to maximize company performance. He has been recognized for Digital Innovation by CIO 100, MIT Sloan, Computerworld, and the Project Management Institute. As Managing Director at OROCA Innovations, Peter leads the CXO advisory services practice, driving digital strategies. Peter was honored as an MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award Finalist in 2015 and is a regular contributor to on innovation. Peter has led businesses through complex changes, including the adoption of data-first approaches for portfolio management, lean six sigma for operational excellence, departmental transformations, process improvements, maximizing team performance, designing new IT operating models, digitizing platforms, leading large-scale mission-critical technology deployments, product management, agile methodologies, and building high-performance teams. As Chief Information Officer, Peter was responsible for Connecticut’s Health Insurance Exchange’s (HIX) industry-leading digital platform transforming consumerism and retail oriented services for the health insurance industry. Peter championed the Connecticut marketplace digital implementation with a transformational cloud-based SaaS platform and mobile application recognized as a 2014 PMI Project of the Year Award finalist, CIO 100, and awards for best digital services, API, and platform. He also received a lifetime achievement award for leadership and digital transformation, honored as a 2016 Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leader. Peter is the author of Learning Intelligence: Expand Thinking. Absorb Alternative. Unlock Possibilities (2017), which Marshall Goldsmith, author of the New York Times No. 1 bestseller Triggers, calls "a must-read for any leader wanting to compete in the innovation-powered landscape of today." Peter also authored The Power of Blockchain for Healthcare: How Blockchain Will Ignite The Future of Healthcare (2017), the first book to explore the vast opportunities for blockchain to transform the patient experience. Peter has a B.S. in C.I.S from Bentley University and an MBA from Quinnipiac University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. He earned his PMP® in 2001 and is a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Masters in Business Relationship Management (MBRM) and Certified Scrum Master. As a Commercial Rated Aviation Pilot and Master Scuba Diver, Peter understands first hand, how to anticipate change and lead boldly.