The Business Relationship Management Business (BRM) is related to and employs the techniques and disciplines of Customer Relationship Management (CRM). However, while CRM most often refers to a company’s external customers, the BRM typically deals with a company’s internal customers or an internal provider’s products and services.

While BRM has its roots in CRM, it has meant different things to different people, often depending upon the specific industry context. For example, in banking and finance, the Business Relationship Manager manages and maintains current business relationships and seeks new accounts. Banking BRM’s are typically responsible for a portfolio of small to midsized businesses. In other industries, the label BRM has become a euphemism for an account executive or even salesperson.

The most consistent (though limited!) definition comes from the world of Service Management and, his particular, IT Service Management. Frameworks such as the IT infrastructure Library (ITIL) and standards such as ISO/IEC 20000 call out the Business Relationship Management role as it pertains to service management.


Business Relationship Management embodies a set of competencies (knowledge, skills, and behaviors) that foster a productive, value-producing relationship between a Provider organization and its Business Partners.


One of the most intransigent and perennial challenges and enterprise faces is the alignment between their service providers and the business they serve. The so-called ‘alignment challenge’ is especially visible when the provider is an internal Information Technology (IT) organization. In this case, the IT budget often represents somewhere between 4% and 20% of revenues, a significant business cost. But IT providers are not the only ones that suffer the ‘alignment’ challenge. Human resources, facilities, finance, and other shared service providers struggle to demonstrate their value and relevance to the business they serve. And with alternate sourcing arrangements becoming an increasingly important aspect of business operations, the ‘alignment challenge’ is as real for external providers as it is for internal shared services.

The role, job, and organizational capability of Business Relationship Management (BRM) have emerged as a powerful means to address the alignment challenge. BRM first surfaced in the 1990s, with little fanfare, as progressive IT organizations establish the role to strengthen their business relationships and to drive value realization from IT assets and investments. A gain legitimacy in 2005 with ISO/IEC 20000 service management standards and was reinforced with the release of ITIL v3 in 2007.

Despite this formal recognition, the BRM role is difficult to establish and sustain. On the one hand, it must represent and satisfy demanding business partners, who always want more will often not knowing what they want or how to justify their demand. It must also meet the needs of the provider organization and the complexities and constraints under which they operate. BRM is a connector, forgoing productive connections between provider resources and their business partners. It is also an orchestrator between the provider organization and its business partners, orchestrating key roles, resources, and capabilities to help simulate, surface, shape, and harvest business value. Finally, BRM is a navigator, guiding provider business stakeholders along the best path to realize that business value.

But establishing credibility, building trust, clarifying shared goals, and closing the alignment gap demands a rare set of competencies, strong relationship skills, and an ability to thrive in highly ambiguous and even turbulent environments. The effective BRM is equally at home with their business partners and with her provider stakeholders, equally comfortable with the language and contents of the business and the provider domain. They have their fingertips models, frameworks, and techniques to clarify strategy, stimulate innovation, prioritize investments, and marshal appropriate resources and help ensure the business transitions to deliver the total value that was expected from them. They have superb communication skills, can “read between the lines,” hear the unspoken, and influence and persuade without having direct authority.

Business Relationship Management Professional® (BRMP®) training and certification program is designed to equip those interested in business relationship management with the foundation knowledge they need to succeed.


  • ISO/IEC 20000 – ISO/IEC 20000-1:2011
  • ITIL
  • SFIA – The Skills Framework for the Information Age