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What is Business Relationship Management and How Can it Help Your Organization?

What is Business Relationship Management and How Can it Help Your Organization?

By Maureen Jesuthasan
July 3, 2024

Business Relationship Management is a business framework that strategically nurtures positive relationships to achieve three capabilities: driving value, evolving culture and building partnerships.

Many organizations don’t have a centralized approach to achieving business value, causing divisions in culture, workplace silos and waste. According to The Harvard Business Review, when specialists work together across the boundaries of their expertise, their firms earn higher margins, inspire greater client loyalty and gain a competitive edge. But how can you combat the constant threat of fragmentation through growth and disruption? Many businesses are turning to business relationship management (BRM), a core competency offering a holistic, people-centric solution.

What is BRM?
Simply defined, BRM is a capability, discipline and role to evolve culture, build partnerships, drive value and satisfy purpose.

As a capability, BRM is everything required, both visible and invisible, to nurture relationships in an organization. Examples of visible components are meetings, artifacts
and professional development, while examples of invisible components are knowledge learned, experience gained, trust and confidence building.

As a discipline, BRM is the effective application of knowledge, demonstrated through competencies and mindsets to advance BRM capability.

And finally, as a role, a business relationship manager is someone responsible for managing the competencies required to advance the business relationship management capability. They can rely on the BRM discipline as a source of knowledge and support.

You Can Develop a BRM Capability Through

  • Driving Value– Interconnected levers across different functional areas contribute to creating organizational value, making it crucial to comprehend the lines of responsibility to identify and track the value achieved effectively. This is where business relationship managers (BRMs) play a vital role. By leveraging trusted relationships, organizational knowledge and strategic awareness, BRMs are well-positioned to facilitate and drive value-oriented discussions.
  • Building Partnerships– As a capability, BRM is not responsible for the quality of individual relationships. However, it plays a key role in promoting a cross-collaborative mindset throughout the organization, which can increase the quantity and quality of partnerships.
  • Evolving Culture– To evolve your organization’s culture, it is essential to create an environment where collaborative relationships naturally develop around a shared objective. In a relationship-centered organization, the BRM capability takes ownership of culture and consistently increases the percentage and quality of outstanding work relationships.

Looking at BRM in Action
As an example of how you can successfully apply BRM as a capability to acknowledge and respond to business challenges, we’ll look at the Honda Manufacturing of Alabama (HMA) facility.

HMA operates a high-volume production facility, manufacturing 340,000 vehicles and V-6 engines annually, with a workforce of over 6,000 associates and contractors. Given the criticality of smooth mass-production operations, technology plays a pivotal role. However, HMA’s CIO identified communication gaps and a lack of understanding between technology and other departments, resulting in production downtime caused by technology-related issues. Their leadership recognized the urgent need to address these challenges and sought a solution to foster trust and collaboration between technology and its business partners.

By actively developing and implementing the BRM capability, HMA’s technology leadership successfully transformed the relationship dynamics within the organization. The technology team at HMA leveraged the relationship-focused principles of BRM to establish strong partnerships with each business area, resulting in enhanced project effectiveness and outcomes.

Over time, technology selection, implementation and ongoing management converged with business vision and requirements, establishing shared ownership of strategy and outcomes. This empowered the technology team to deliver robust solutions and immediate value, fostering trust and showcasing their contributions to the rest of the organization. Through a collaborative approach, HMA’s tech team achieved seamless execution of applications and projects, driving operational efficiency and delivering value to the organization.

Today, many organizations struggle with operational silos, and BRM offers a way to help overcome this. The HMA case study highlights the common tendency for individuals in different disciplines to focus solely on their specific responsibilities rather than contributing to a shared purpose and overall value as an effective team.

While acknowledging the presence of operational silos is important, determining the best approach to eliminate them is critical. It is crucial to recognize the implementation of technology or the design of processes alone cannot instill the desire among individuals to establish continuity between the organizational vision and its execution. By using business relationship management practices, organizations can make continuity a reality by clearly articulating and measuring the value derived from a commitment to driving positive change.

Maureen has over 20 years of consulting and industry experience managing the strategy and execution of high-profile, complex technology transformations. She has a passion for helping clients tackle difficult problems and achieve operational efficiency through Agile, IT Service Management, Lean IT and Manufacturing and Lean Six Sigma best practices. Maureen lives in Chicago and enjoys walks around the lake with her husband and caring for her urban garden.

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

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