Keith Chappell
Keith Chappell

Wavestone US was recently contracted to help a major pharmaceutical company re-engineer its business relationship management (BRM) function. The role was originally designed to be strategic in nature, where the BRMs and the business would collaborate to use technology to generate revenue, but instead the BRMs were reduced to a role of order takers for IT. As a result, the business did not see any real value created by the BRMs, and did not view them as technology leaders or peers.

Through our engagement, the client reorganized the group from a 30-person BRM team to a 10-person team of BRM professionals with much more experience. The new team was able to gain the trust of business leaders to deliver on their strategic needs, and were actually viewed as peers of the business unit presidents. This, coupled with a better governance approach, created a BRM unit that was better aligned with business goals and delivered real value to the company.

The problem with traditional BRM

In order to understand how we at Wavestone US were able to successfully re-engineer our client’s BRM unit, it is important to understand the many problems with traditional BRM. Too often, BRM professionals fall into the trap of order taking versus advising and not serving as strategic minded ambassadors between IT and the business, but as redundant order fulfillers. These kinds of BRM professionals are constantly running back and forth between business units and IT, trying to satisfy demands while only giving limited thought to how to improve processes or drive business goals. This way of doing BRM often creates more work for the overly taxed IT department without adding more value to the business.

What effective BRM looks like

The right people for BRM roles don’t just do paperwork and take IT requests from business units. They should be constantly thinking of new ways to leverage IT to drive business results. This helps develop trusted relationships between the business and IT while improving efficiency and lowering costs.

It is not always necessary to assemble a new team of BRMs. Retraining is possible with your existing resources if you have business minded technologists who can be peers to business leadership.

In order to gain credibility as an advisor to the business, BRM leaders have to completely understand business needs. IT is ultimately about delivering the tools and solutions that the business units need to generate more revenue and lower costs, and BRM professionals should be the ones to connect the dots and work with both parties to develop effective solutions using technology.


BRM is an invaluable function in the modern enterprise. Unfortunately, many companies aren’t doing it right. By not placing enough emphasis on business goals and hiring people without strategic forces, neither the IT group nor the business’s needs are met. They’re left with BRM units that don’t deliver value. If you get it right, BRM can go a long way to improving communication between IT and the business and driving better business results.

Learn more about BRM or request a consultation with Wavestone US’ experts. Contact us.

Keith Chappell
Practice Partner

Keith is a practice partner and strategy expert at Wavestone US. For over a decade, he led corporate strategy organizations and professional services business units at major global technology corporations, including Unisys and Lucent Technologies.

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