Business Relationship Manager (BRM) Metrics

Posted | Category: Professional Development | Contributed

Executives frequently ask for Business Relationship Manager (BRM) metrics and the financial business value added to the organization through the Business Relationship Management Capability. If you already have a well-defined process in place to measure and communicate the real business value through key performance indicators (KPIs), congratulations! But if not, don’t despair—the following is an overview on how to set up both individual BRM metrics and high-level financial business value reporting.

Setting the stage

Business Relationship Management Institute (BRM Institute) defines the role of the BRM as the strategic interface between an enabling business function (IT, HR, Finance, etc.) and one or more business partners, with the goal of stimulating, surfacing, and shaping business demand for the enabling business function’s products and services. As a result, the BRM ensures that the potential business value from those products and services is captured, realized, optimized, and recognized.

The first step is to establish the following seven metrics for your BRMs immediately. Aim to maintain these metrics for all future years. These metrics can be used for all relationship maturity levels:

1. All ideas have an Idea Document
2. All ideas have a Value Plan
3. All relationships have a strategic relationship plan that is routinely updated and includes the following:

4. All lines of business have established and documented a multi-year business strategy
5. All lines of business have established and documented three-to-five KPIs
6. There is a defined and documented multi-year business capability roadmap based on business strategy
7. Defined plans articulating the business value both accomplished and aimed for, based on maturity level (defined below).

BRM metrics are closely correlated with the BRM’s skill level, the level of relationship maturity between the BRM and their business partners, and the maturity of the BRM’s enabling business function.

Business Relationship Management Institute defines the five levels of business/provider maturity through the Business Relationship Maturity Model, shown here:

The five levels are:
1. Ad Hoc
2. Order Taker
3. Service Partner
4. Trusted Advisor
5. Strategic Partner

Levels 1 and 2 – Loudest-in, first-out or frequent misrepresentations build mistrust and reactive course changes.

Low Maturity – Ad Hoc or Order Taker

If you’re only just starting out with your BRM capability, typically all you have in terms of performance metrics are satisfaction surveys that assess your business partners’ opinions on the enabling business function’s service delivery. The problem is, satisfaction surveys tend to be subjective, meaning they often reflect how someone feels on a particular day than an accurate overall indicator of value added.

With that said, you can still glean useful information from surveys. As long as the results are tabulated and built into an action plan, they’re still worth doing from time to time (for example, every six months or so).

Level 3 – Routine is routine; innovation is a challenge.

Mid-Level Maturity – Service Provider

If you’re in IT at the mid-maturity level, you probably spend most of your day reporting system uptime and SLA compliance metrics (i.e. “How well do we keep the lights on and the trains running?”). While this is important, the truth is that the business likely cares very little about this information: it’s a given that you can keep the lights on and trains running.

Instead, make an effort to stop reporting system uptimes externally, and find something of more business value to report as successes. External IT service providers like Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and cloud service vendors routinely report on system uptimes and SLAs—there’s no reason for you to make yourself eminently ready for outsourcing by appearing to the do the same based on your chosen metrics (but perhaps with lower uptime and definitely at a higher upfront cost). Begin reflecting on how to report the value that’s relevant to business success, in order to ensure that you’re communicating the value of your contributions to provider areas outside of IT.

Level 4 – Building cooperation based on mutual respect and understanding.

Moving Up in Maturity – Trusted Advisor

As a Trusted Advisor, you are well on your way to shaping demand and partnering with the business to decide which ideas can be turned into business cases worthy of review and approval. At this maturity level, a key metric for BRMs is the financial business value of projects that were “approved to start” through the demand-shaping process (referred to as ideation).

For BRMs starting out, it’s a good idea to assign goals of achieving $X financial business value to the business in “approved-to-start” projects during their initial year or two. This metric will get BRMs focused on building successful business cases that drive real financial business value to the organization.

Note the emphasis on “approved-to-start” projects and not “delivered” projects. BRMs starting out can easily influence the projects that are brought forward to the organization through business cases, but influencing the actual delivery of these projects from the enabling business function (resulting in true value realization) will come from more senior/experienced business teams.

Level 5 – Shared goals for maximizing business value; shared risks and rewards.

Highest Maturity – Strategic Partner

At the Strategic Partner level, first ensure that you have full value management in place before setting goals. Next, give your BRMs goals for the financial business value (both tangible and intangible) realized by the line of business (LOB). You get here by defining the KPIs or financial value drivers with your business partners for their particular LOB, usually three to five KPIs.

In the Ideation phase, create value management plans and ensure projects that move forward truly impact the KPIs. Leverage the KPIs to say “no” to projects that fail to move the needle. Ensure that value optimization and realization occurs, as defined in the Value Management section of the BRMiBOK. BRMs can then report out on the amount of true financial business value the business partner realized in conjunction with the full provider.
At the Strategic Partner level, BRMs can also report on the financial business value realized across the organization. By summing up the individual BRM business value realization reports, you now have financial business value that can be shared across the organization. Your CFO and CEO will love this!

Other Metrics

The number of projects met with a “no.”

BRMs must show how they “shape” demand, rather than being a glorified salesperson who just drums up new demand all the time. Establishing KPIs by LOB empowers both the business and BRM to truly shape demand and only move the projects forward that move the needle with respect to value realization. Capturing paused ideas is a valuable metric to report on.

For Professional BRM Institute members, other critical success factors or measures are listed in the BRMiBOK on the Online Campus, through these two links:

How to Implement Value Tracking and BRM Metrics

Business Relationship Management Institute (BRM Institute) has a mission to inspire, promote, and develop excellence in Business Relationship Management across the globe, leading to outstanding business value for organizations and professional fulfillment of every individual member of the BRM community. Through this mission, BRM Institute has various yearly membership packages that can be customized to help ensure the success of your BRM capability through the metrics above.

10 Responses

  1. Claudio says:

    Very similar in concept to the old capability maturity model – but I love it! Pretty useful to be used to gauge what some BRMS in my organization might be missing as we progress in developing them. Thanks for the good article.

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