Business Relationship Management

The relationship between business and IT is bidirectional: IT adopts business needs and objectives to create and improve solutions and services, and business makes the best use of IT solutions and services. Many organizations fall short in the business-IT relationship by excluding an IT representative from business steering, or by not having business-minded Business Relationship Managers as counterparts for the business management.

Business Relationship Managers (BRMs) are in a key role in managing diversity and bringing business insights into Strategy and Governance. The more they contribute to strategy development, the more concrete and valuable the strategy, architecture and other guiding frames become. However, as there are conflicting interests between businesses as well as conflicts between short-term business objectives and long-term IT objectives, it is essential that the group CIO leads both Business Relationship Management and Strategy and Governance.

Business Relationship Management (as in Enterprise Development)

The role of IT is changing rapidly. Digitalization sets a new business scene where all future business models will rely on smart use of IT. Digitalization acclaims the IT to support business in value creation and revenue growth with faster time-to-market development of solutions. The new digital business environment requires a business oriented IT that shares the challenges, opportunities and market pace with the business. Any IT activity that cannot be associated (directly or indirectly) to business value creation is wasteful, and needs to be questioned.

In order to support the corporate digital agenda, a specific person should be nominated from the IT organization to ensure the business focus in IT. A person with this role is called a Business Relationship Manager (BRM) (or Business Engagement Manager (BEM), Business CIO or Head of Business IT).

The BRM aims to bridge the gap between business and IT on a strategic and tactical level, and supports business value creation (business competitiveness) in an efficient way. The BRM is end-to-end accountable for IT (build, run and maintain) towards a specific business area. In addition, the BRM is comfortable with both IT and business context and is able to advise and coach Business Managers on how to leverage IT to gain competitive advantage.

In larger organizations, the IT is organized towards Business Domains by having Business IT with Business Relationship Manager for each major Business Domain.

The Business IT function owns the business relationship and is responsible for shaping the business ambitions into concrete IT prerequisites, direction, and deliverables. Business IT is also responsible in providing business with insights and innovation on how to raise the business competitiveness by smart use of IT.

Business IT ensures fast decision-making, required competence and right allocation of resources to support the business objectives. The Business Relationship Manager’s performance is defined by how well IT fulfils and even exceeds business expectations on business – IT relationship.

Responsibilities of the Business Relationship Manager (BRM):

Representing business in IT

  • IT Management Team member with a business focus
  • Responsible for coordinating business-specific development initiatives with a roadmap
  • Representing business in governance bodies if there is no other business representative

Representing IT for business

  • Having an end-to-end responsibility for IT within a business
  • IT representative in business management whenever decision topics relate to IT
  • Execution of group IT strategy, initiatives and objectives within a business


Figure 2.2.1 Business Relationship Management consists of Demand towards the Development and Services forming the Supply.

Business value creation is a pull approach that starts from business expectations and ends up in setting the requirements for IT. The value of IT services is always relative to business expectations.

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