Business Relationship Manager Job Description

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A business relationship manager is the connection between the IT department and the business units it services. But this role is more than just being the messenger for each group. Rather, the business relationship manager's primary goal is to ensure that everyone is working at potential and that the most appropriate technologies are being used by the right people. In terms of hierarchy, this position should be at the same level of a divisional director's job and is most effective when the role reports into the CIO or the office of the CIO. Recently, rising demand for internal IT projects and the increased occurrences of failed projects have made this a hot job and has also made finding the qualified candidates difficult.

Business Relationship Manager Skills

Despite years of effort on both sides, there still exists a divide between business units and information technology group. It is that divide that a business relationship manger must work tirelessly to bridge with the end goal of aligning the seemingly endless demands of very disparate groups. The role involves a lot of facilitation such as smoothing the adoption of new technology-based solutions by business users. The relationship manager also keeps everyone, as the cliche goes, on the same page so that no one goes without having access to and updates of a company's core information. In a sense, they are the guardians and champions of methodology and adherence to those methodologies.

A technology related BS or MS, possibly an MBA. The bottom line: a combination of strong technology skills and business acumen. In terms of IT background, it really depends on the specific technologies an organization is using, says Jim Lanzalotto, vice president of strategy and marketing at outsourcing firm Yoh. For instance, a company that uses a lot of SAP software will likely choose former SAP staff as its business relationship managers. Not only are they experts in SAP, they also have experience dealing with the applications vendor and its partners.

How To Find A Business Relationship Manager

The best candidates for your company are likely to come from those already familiar with the technology your company uses. As such, connecting with communities that already congregate around your core technologies can, as a side benefit, put you in touch with the right professionals. Don't limit your search and be sure to look at professional organizations, consultancies, vendors, their partners and user groups. Also consider those that have participated in internal task forces and committees as they too may have the qualities that make for a good business relationship manager. If at first you don't succeed don't be discouraged.

In terms of skills, being a people-person is critical as is being able to lead. The best candidate will also have a solid understanding of the day-to-day execution of business and the IT tasks. When interviewing, look for answers that include different possible paths to a solution. Thinking out of the box and being able to consider alternatives will go a long way in solving the myriad of problems companies of significant size must routinely tackle.

If there's a desire to use an existing employee, be aware that teaching leadership and people skills can be quite difficult. However, it's possible to develop business relationship managers internally by first looking at people with an interest in technology and who either have undergraduate business degrees or have acquired business-related skills from working in financial roles. Ease internal candidates into the business relationship manager role by bringing them in on a project basis. Those that adapt quickly are the ones you should continue to evaluate for future work.

Salary Range – $120,000 to $200,000

Always take salary ranges with a grain of salt. Aside from often being very wide, there are often mitigating factors that can push an individuals salary below or above the range. A lot will depend on the hiring company as well as with your abilities to negotiate.

CIO Magazine, November 1, 2007

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