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What Does a Business Relationship Manager Do?

By Helen Platt
January 17, 2024

What is Business Relationship Management?

To answer what a Business Relationship Manager does, we first need to discuss what Business Relationship Management (BRM) is. BRM is not just a capability or role, it is a philosophy that integrates a business with its clients, stakeholders, and functional partners. BRM is about developing deep, impactful partnerships that deliver value; it is not just about transactional relationships where goods or services are exchanged.

The Business Relationship Management Institute defines BRM as ‘a philosophy, capability, discipline and role to evolve culture, build partnerships, drive value and satisfy purpose’.  The philosophy is rooted in the conviction that positive, meaningful relationships drive value in organizations and create the greatest positive impact to economic value, people, and the planet.

It’s important to recognize that organizations are networks of relationships; these interconnected relationships form the backbone of organizational functions, working in harmony to strengthen the overall vitality and performance of a business. An effective BRM capability ensures these relationships are not only maintained but also aligned with tangible results, driving the organization forward to achieve excellence and impact.

What Does a Business Relationship Manager Do?

A Business Relationship Manager is responsible for building and managing relationships on behalf of a functional area, business unit and its internal or external stakeholders.  The role of a BRM is strategic, as it involves acting as a connector between departments, understanding the business needs, and ensuring that solutions align with the organization’s strategic goals and objectives. A BRM could be described as a neutral supporter in a soccer match, wearing both teams’ colors. They maintain an unbiased stance, not favoring one department over another, but instead championing the success of both.

The primary objective of a Business Relationship Manager is to align business objectives with the services provided by an organization and optimize value from those services. By doing this they can break down the silos that are separating business from its support functions. This drives a culture of innovation, creativity, value, and collaboration that reflects the organizational strategy.

Key Responsibilities of a Business Relationship Manager

A Business Relationship Manager (BRM) plays a pivotal role in an organization, connecting relationships to results. The core responsibilities of a BRM are as follows:

  • Understand Business Objectives: BRMs need a deep understanding of the business. They collaborate with business leaders to understand their goals, challenges, and strategies.
  • Communication: Business Relationship Managers act as a strategic partner between business units. They facilitate clear communication, ensuring that business needs are effectively communicated and that solutions are understood and accepted by the business. They translate business language into client-friendly dialogues and vice versa, ensuring clarity and understanding.
  • Nurturing and Building Relationships: One of the key roles of a BRM is to establish and maintain strong, trust-based relationships. This requires consistent engagement, understanding partner perspectives, and proactively addressing their concerns.
  • Value Management: BRMs support the value management process by discovering opportunities and shaping demand for the provider’s services and products to increase organizational value. They also ensure the optimization of the providers’ existing resources to achieve and optimize strategic results.
  • Strategic Alignment: BRMs are instrumental in shaping business strategies. They provide insights into how technology, for example, can support and drive business initiatives, helping to align the two.

Overall, the role of a Business Relationship Manager is to serve as the strategic interface between two business units, or a business unit and an external stakeholder. They play a crucial role in aligning business strategy and ensuring the provider’s resources are utilized efficiently to meet the needs of the business and deliver value.

You might want to look at Business Relationship Manager vacancies on online job boards to see how BRM job descriptions differ across organizations.

Business Relationship Management Tasks

The day-to-day tasks of a Business Relationship Manager can be varied, but a BRM will spend a significant part of their day in meetings. These can range from individual discussions with key stakeholders, to attending team or departmental meetings to ensure strategic alignment between the business and functional partner.  Regular and meaningful interaction is central to building and nurturing partnerships.

Using metrics and feedback tools, BRMs assess the health and effectiveness of each relationship, identifying areas for improvement and celebrating successes.

It is important for BRMs to keep up to date with both business and IT trends. Continuous learning allows the Business Relationship Manager to anticipate how emerging technologies can drive business value and offer a competitive advantage.

Identifying potential risks and proactively addressing them is another critical aspect of a BRM’s role. They work towards mitigating risks associated with new initiatives or partnerships and are often involved in problem-solving and conflict resolution.

Required Business Relationship Management Skills

A Business Relationship Manager job description is likely to include the following key skills that are essential for the role:

  • Effective Communication: Communicating effectively with both technical and non-technical stakeholders is crucial. They need to be able to explain complex technical concepts in simple business terms and actively listen to stakeholders’ concerns and needs and they need to communicate back an understanding of the business needs, value and direction.
  • Empathy: The ability to listen and empathize is paramount. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and viewing the issue from their perspective will guide you to finding the right solution.
  • Influential Relationship Building: Being able to work well with others, including forming and leading cross-functional teams, is a vital skill for a business relationship manager.
  • Strategic Thinking: BRMs must understand the strategic objectives of the business and understand how today’s decisions impact future relationships and align them with long-term goals.
  • Problem-Solving: Addressing challenges creatively and effectively is key. This involves thinking outside the box and coming up with solutions that satisfy all parties involved.
  • Emotional Intelligence: Being aware of and understanding your own emotions will help you navigate interpersonal interactions and relationships effectively.

A Business Relationship Manager Does Not Do This

A Business Relationship Manager collaborates with many business functions, but there are specific tasks and responsibilities that typically fall outside their scope of work:

  • Project Manager: a business relationship manager can be part of a project team but should not have the overall responsibility for delivery of the project, that is the job of the project manager.
  • Change Manager: although a lot of what the business relationship manager does results in organizational change, a Change Manager should be responsible for managing the delivery and impact of an organizational change program.
  • Business Analyst: a business relationship manager should have a solid understanding of the organization, but they are not responsible for eliciting and managing requirements that should be performed by a dedicated business analyst.

How to Become a Business Relationship Manager

The journey to becoming a BRM involves several steps, each contributing to the development of necessary skills and knowledge:

  • Educational Foundation: Starting with a solid educational foundation is key. Typically, a degree in business, marketing, management, or project related field lays the groundwork for a career in BRM.
  • Join the BRM Institute: Becoming a member of the Business Relationship Management Institute is a pivotal step. This global professional association offers a wealth of resources, including best practices, standards, research, and a community of professionals.
  • Gaining Practical Experience: Experience in customer service, sales, account management, program or project management, business analysis or other project related professions is invaluable. It provides insight into client relations and business operations.
  • Developing Key Skills: Outside of formal education, developing skills like communication, negotiation, conflict management and strategic planning is crucial. This can be through on-the-job experience, workshops, or mentorship.
  • Certification and Continuous Learning: Pursuing professional certifications in BRM or related fields can enhance credibility and expertise. Continuous learning through seminars, webinars, and industry events keeps BRMs updated on the latest trends and practices.
  • Networking and Industry Engagement: Building a professional network by connecting with industry peers, joining professional associations, and engaging in community events can provide valuable insights, opportunities, and mentorship essential for career growth.

Challenges in Business Relationship Management

BRMs often face various challenges, such as navigating complex organizational structures, changing business priorities and value expectations, lack of resources, resistance to change, communication barriers and cultural differences.

Overcoming these challenges requires strong interpersonal skills, adaptability, resilience, and empathy.


In conclusion, Business Relationship Management is a dynamic and essential aspect of modern business. The role of a Business Relationship Manager is both challenging and rewarding, requiring a blend of strategic thinking, empathetic communication, and a deep understanding of business and client needs.

As the business world continues to evolve, the importance of effective Business Relationship Management will only increase, making it a vital component of any successful organization. Those aspiring to become BRMs should focus on developing the necessary skills and gaining relevant experience and qualifications to help them excel in this role.

Project and Relationship Manager
Helen Platt is a project and relationship manager at APMG International with over 12 years’ experience in project management. Whilst working at APMG, Helen has worked on many diverse projects including creating certifications for agile change, technical communicators, and cyber security professionals. She was project manager for the development of the Certified PPP Professional (CP3P) certification program – an innovation of the World Bank Group and other multilateral development banks, which has seen over 10,000 exams taken since its launch. She holds the AgilePM Practitioner, Change Management Practitioner and Business Relationship Management Professional (BRMP) certifications.

Browse IIL’s Most Popular BRM Courses here!

Disclaimer: The ideas, views, and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of International Institute for Learning or any entities they represent.

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