How to Move from Being a Tactical BRM to a Strategic BRM
The following questions come to mind right away: what does this mean? What is a tactical BRM, and what is a strategic BRM?
The terms “strategic BRM” and “tactical BRM” are often confused because they do not clearly describe the work that is done by BRMs. Every business relationship manager works on both strategy-focused and tactical-focused activities.
In practice, however, we use the title “strategic BRM” for individuals who are focused on business value, building the right relationships, and being seen as a leader who ensures and communicates results in an organization. Meanwhile, the title “tactical BRM” is typically reserved for those involved in projects and other more operational tasks.
NOTE: For the tactical BRM role, we can use the term “business capability manager” (BCM), as promoted by BRM Institute. BCMs focus on ensuring that the delivery of capabilities works efficiently and effectively. A BCM should still have relationship management skills, as the role is a great stepping stone to becoming a BRM and/or business leader.
So how do you become a successful strategic BRM if you are currently a tactical BRM?
The shift requires a different mindset. First, you need to start thinking and acting as a strategic BRM, which requires a set of competencies, skills, and focus areas that you need to work on. Begin developing the following to help you move you forward in your BRM role:
Focus on value.
The BRM’s focus is on value—every interaction must be about value, which means seeing everything you do from a value perspective. If you are currently in a role in which you are struggling to get out of the operational work, begin the discussion of how to clarify the value of the activities in which you are involved. There will always be operational work you get involved in, but a strategic BRM tries to minimize this.
Next, stop seeing yourself as a service provider—move from cost-based, order taker work to shared ownership for business strategy and results.
We use the title “strategic BRM” for individuals who are focused on business value, building the right relationships, and being seen as a leader who ensures and communicates results in an organization.
Start thinking about how you can help the organization ensure optimized business value results. Leverage a value plan as defined by BRM Institute and begin by measuring and communicating the value of investments. Challenge your peers to think about what is seen as value.
Not only should you understand your organization’s strategy, but a strategic BRM ensures that when value is discussed, it is done within the context of the strategy. Being able to translate strategy into the right actions is a skill set that is needed on a regular basis.
Challenge anything and everything that you do not see as part of the overall strategy—but remember to stay open to different perspectives.
Your success is dependent on your organization’s culture and overall behaviours, which are influenced by the environment in which you work. Strategic BRMs should establish what constitutes desirable behaviour and then drive the organization towards this behaviour by challenging the status quo and helping people understand that change is required.
Strategic BRMs understand where they spend their time. If you spend more of your time in demand management (operationally focused) or the development-and-build phase, you are too tactical or operational. Begin putting more time into demand shaping.
Help the organization understand the value of new ideas by leveraging idea documents. Capture all ideas so you have a better understanding of what is important for the organization. Prioritize the ideas that deliver the most value with business and IT groups.
Strategic BRMs understand where they spend their time. If you spend more of your time in demand management (operationally focused) or the development-and-build phase, you are too tactical or operational.
Value optimization is the phase after which solutions and systems are implemented and the organization is capturing value from these solutions…but are they really?
Are on you “on value” or “off value?” Do you know this for sure? It is important to spend time understanding where value can be further optimized. Are certain ideas ready to be implemented?
After you leverage a value plan to show how value is realized, build a value optimization team.
It should consist of members from different groups to gain a strong understanding of the value that can be delivered. Importantly, be sure to always communicate the realized value.
Your title likely has the word “relationship” somewhere in there —so manage relationships! Do an assessment of any current relationships that are important for your work, build relationship improvement plans for the key stakeholders with whom you work, and discuss how to best improve your relationship with your peers and team.
Articulate the value of what you accomplish through managing relationships.
Strategic BRMs must be comfortable interacting with and communicating value to senior management within the organization. Build trust in this group by showing how strategy can be accomplished through a value realization and optimization focus, using the appropriate behaviours, and being there when they need it.
Some of you may be thinking, “But my business partner doesn’t want to meet with me,” “I don’t get the time with the executives,” “I am not in the right position,” “My boss will not let me do this,” “It is too difficult to define value,” etc.
Though it will not be easy, great BRMs do not get put off by that—these challenges will not stop them from moving towards becoming a strategic partner. If you feel stuck, get a coach—you need to be willing to do the work! Contact me if you would like more information about how you can get value out of coaching.
Most importantly, have fun becoming that successful BRM. Before you know it, you will be that business leader.
Peter Lijnse is an experienced business relationship management (BRM) executive coach and facilitator. He helps organizations develop the BRM capability and coaches executives and business relationship managers on how to get the most out of their BRM capability. Peter has worked in various industries and is a sought-after speaker on business relationship management. Since 2013, Peter has been involved with BRM Institute as an advisor and a member of the knowledge management team. Peter received the Trailblazer Award from BRM Institute in 2015 and 2016.
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