Do businesses really need Business Relationship Managers?

Do businesses really need Business Relationship Managers?

Having spent an early part of his career in a business relationship management role as a Government IT Service Management (ITSM) contractor supporting NASA, Adam McCullough understands the purpose and value of Business Relationship Managers (BRMs) within organizations. In this blog, he describes the benefits the role can bring to businesses, how it puts ITIL® to good use and the key traits that a BRM needs.

What does a BRM do and why is it a key position?

Adam McCulloughThe primary responsibility of a BRM is to maintain a positive relationship with the customer and be the liaison between client and service provider.

Although service providers often have a Service Level Agreement (SLA) in place, the BRM looks beyond meeting the terms of this SLA and addresses the things that aren’t always measured like genuine client satisfaction. The BRM also ensures that the SLA is meeting the changing needs of the customer’s business as it naturally evolves, not just what was agreed at the start of a contract.

Another key aspect of the BRM role is to educate the customer on what services a provider can and can’t deliver. Sometimes customers feel dissatisfied because they expect a service provider to do a certain job, but are unaware that it isn’t within their remit. By managing expectations the BRM helps ensure improved customer satisfaction.

Are BRMs only needed in big businesses?

The BRM is a universal role because every business, regardless of size, service or sector, has customers. In some instances, the BRM may be internal rather than external but are looking after customers nonetheless.

The BRM role is also very scalable. For example, a larger business might have multiple BRMs who are based on site, across the world within a client’s business. With smaller organizations the BRM position doesn’t have to be a single role. One employee can wear multiple hats and split time between being a BRM and doing another job.

Whether you’re a $2 million or $60 billion business, the BRM role is still relevant and valuable.

What benefits do BRMs bring to businesses?

As the customer advocate, BRMs focus on delivering on what the customer really wants, not what a business thinks they want and, because of this, it naturally increases client satisfaction and retention.

BRMs also ensure all parties have a common understanding of expectations, that things are communicated in a timely way and services get delivered. The role also gives the customer a clear single point of contact to express concerns and ask any questions.

While many businesses do regular surveys and polls of their clients to gauge satisfaction, unless you’re on the ground with the customer it’s hard to understand how they really feel. Polls and surveys can be ambiguous but with a BRM onboard you can truly take the temperature of the customer/business relationship.

A further benefit is that BRMs help businesses to be more proactive in addressing their customers’ needs. For example, when working on a major Government contract a lot of the workforce were lacking in confidence in digital technology. So, ahead of the transition to new cell phones or IT software, we were able to properly assess the training needed and begin the outreach to customers earlier on. This helped minimize the impact and business downtime.

What makes a good BRM?

To be a good BRM, there are three key skills you most definitely need:

  • Communication: being able to communicate clearly – whether verbally or written – is essential for a BRM. You also need to make technical jargon easy for audiences of all levels to understand
  • Adaptability: IT is forever changing so you need to pick up new concepts quickly. Many BRMs are based within their clients’ businesses so you also need to adapt to new environments and places of work
  • Interpersonal skills: As you might expect, people skills are fundamental to the role. But as well as fostering great relationships with customers, you also need to support your colleagues and bridge communication between service provider and client.

The BRM role is a great position as it interacts with so many other departments and really puts your ITIL knowledge to good use. Through the role, you get a very holistic view of the guidance and how all the elements go together.

See our ITIL section for more information and visit our Career Paths tool to find out more about the Business Relationship Manager role and the skills you need for this and other key ITSM positions.

Read Adam's previous AXELOS blog posts

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Comments

25 Dec 2016 Thomas Fruin
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A nice overview of the BRM role, thanks.
23 Oct 2018 Ivo Vermeulen MA Prince2
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Nice write up - Sadly the industry sometimes mixes BRM with sales where opportunities to support the client are translated into additional business (sales).
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