TO BRM or not to BRM?

Part 2: Business Partner and IT Organisation Maturity

Baxter Thompson Ltd, Jon Baxter

There are three fundamental areas to consider in deciding whether your company is ready for a Business Relationship Manager (BRM):

1) Your motivation as an IT leader
2) Business partner and IT Organisation Maturity
3) Skills of the BRM required and existing skills within the current organisation

2) Business Partner and IT Organisation Maturity

So whatever reflections you have about the current organisation that helped drive your motivation as an IT leader in part 1, they can be mapped onto a model that has varying degrees of maturity. An example would be an IT helpdesk that only answers some enquiries but not others, and only then actually resolves the enquiry could be mapped to level 1.

A person could review all the capabilities within an organisation function, such as IT (see figure below) and make a statement about the people, processes and tools within that capability on how "mature" each capability is. This could be done say for a function like HR, finance, marketing etc etc. The benefits are several:
  1. Doing the exercise in a collaborative, cross functional way helps increase the level of awareness across a broad stakeholder base and helps start conversations about what could be done differently.
  2. The exercise helps identify how balanced the respective functions are and help identify opportunities at the boundaries of the functions
  3. Help understand what issues need to be resolved before the implementation of a BRM role so that the role has the best chance of success.  If the pain points between business partners and service providers, such as the helpdesk are not resolved, then these will draw attention away from the more strategic and value oriented deliverables that the BRM aims to achieve with said business partners.
  4. Identify some of the potential failure modes that could occur if the BRM role were to be applied to the organisation in its current state.
  5. Help cause thinking about possible candidates, organisation structures, roles, new processes and tools, that need to be in place across the organisation that would work in tandem with the BRM role.


The point is the capabilities across the whole organisation (people, process and tools) and those of the BRM competency are related and interdependent. The application of BRM may not extinguish some of the fires that exist already and therefore require an alternative approach before the organisation is ready to implement the BRM role.

However, the review may show that the level of maturity across the whole organisation is sufficent for the role to be implemented. Typically from an IT persective that would mean service delivery and project management capabilities are understood, accepted and stable.

What level of maturity does your organisation have? What foundations can the BRM role build from?


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