Business Analysts and Business Relationship Managers – Working Together to Achieve Common Goals

Posted | Category: Business Relationship Management Research, Professional Development | Contributed

While attending the first BRM conference, BRMConnect, earlier this year, I facilitated a discussion along with Alicia Cook and Jas Phul on the interactions between Business Analysts (BAs), Project Managers (PMs), Enterprise Analysis (EAs), and Business Relationship Managers (BRMs).

After the presentation, many BRMs approached me to discuss the opportunities they face working with BAs. There was also some confusion regarding what the exact role of the BA is and how it differs from the BRM. In this article, I will clarify the distinctions between the two roles and discuss how these roles can complement each other.

Let’s first define the role of the Business Analyst. According to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge Release v3 (BABOK) published by the International Institute of Business Analysts (IIBA), Business Analysis is “The practice of enabling change in the context of an enterprise by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders.” And a Business Analyst is, “Any person who performs business analysis, no matter their job title or organizational role.”

Furthermore, the Business Analyst serves to:

  • Understand how organizations function to meet objectives and achieve goals
  • Define the capabilities required to provide products and services to external stakeholders in an effort to provide value to the organization
  • Define how the various organizational units and stakeholders interact both within and outside the organization
  • Describe and validate solutions that meet business needs, goals, and objects

Let’s also discuss the BRM role. According to the BRM Body of Knowledge, a BRM “stimulates, surfaces, and shapes business demand for a provider’s products and services and ensures that the potential business value from those products and services is captured, optimized and recognized.” The BRM works with both the business partner and the provider (IT, HR, Finance, Legal, etc.) to develop an in-depth understanding of provider capabilities. This is followed by working with the business partner in order to determine business objectives and ensure strategic and innovative solutions that enable business strategy and drive great business value.

Furthermore, a BRM requires:

  • an understanding of business processes and how solutions are deployed in order for the business functions to operate efficiently and effectively. A deep knowledge of the respective lines of business or division—coupled with an understanding of their growth strategy—is fundamental to the success of the role.
  • the ability to simultaneously shape both solution demand and the provider’s ability to deliver solutions that enable business strategy.

Strategic BRMs converge the provider and business by partnering with business units and provider organizations; building, developing, and nurturing relationships with key business and provider stakeholders; supporting and contributing to the respective global business vision; and championing ideas that drive innovative business value.

The biggest differentiator between BAs and BRMs is that the BRM converges the provider with the business while working as a “connector, orchestrator, and navigator” between the business partner and the provider. As a connector, the BRM facilitates productive connections to mobilize projects and programs. As an orchestrator, the BRM arranges and organizes capabilities to drive great business value from provider solutions. Finally, as a navigator, the BRM facilitates business strategic planning and road mapping with the business partner.

While the roles of BAs and BRMs often seem to overlap, in reality they are very different, and in fact complement each other very well.

8 Responses

  1. Jordan says:

    Some great ideas here. It’s important for these two employees to work together to make businesses run smoothly. Thanks for sharing your insight on this!

  2. Carol Mitchell-Ratliff says:

    Great summary – I was one of those that approached you after the presentation. We are embarking on the build out of the BRM function in our organization and in parallel the PMO is building the analysts to provide support in gathering solid requirements for project requests. In your post you note the role of the ‘strategic’ BRM and I wondered if you had thoughts around a more entry level or tactical BRM role and how that might align, compliment or perhaps overlap that of a BA. Thank you in advance for your response.

    • Aaron Barnes says:

      Hello Carol. I would encourage you to post this question inside the Online Campus in the Ask An Expert or Member’s Hangout areas. You will get many great responses from how folks are doing this today. From my experience working with companies around the globe, there is overlap between skills for the SR BA and entry level BRM. While the skills are similar, the accountabilities and responsibilities of the two roles are completely different. The entry level BRM is learning the BRM role and beginning to shift towards accountability for the relationship, business value results, and business/provider relationship maturity while the SR. BA still holds accountability and focus on requirements as defined by IIBA.

      The good news, with the recent announcement of the strategic alliance between BRMI and IIBA, we will be defining all this and producing mutually agreed upon standards for organizations to leverage going forward.

      I am happy to connect with you directly on this topic if you would like further guidance.

  3. Phunshore says:


    I am certified BA and recently got a job as a BRM. often than not, i found myself focusing on the BA role more than that of a BRM. As a matter of fact, i do not understand what extra function is expected of me as a BRM than i provide as a BA. I seem not to be able to differentiate both roles, please assist.

  4. Great ideas.if people within team can more benefited to organisation.
    thanks for great ideas
    share more updates and ideas with us..

  5. Chris Gangai says:

    Hello –

    Has anything been substantiated or published in this regard from your earlier reply?

    “The good news, with the recent announcement of the strategic alliance between BRMI and IIBA, we will be defining all this and producing mutually agreed upon standards for organizations to leverage going forward.”

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