With thanks to Jeremy for taking time to chat to us about his role, his career and top tips for other BRMs
Read on for the full transcript of the interview.....
I started off in a kind of technical role within IT, at Loughborough university, working through desktop support, desktop development, server team, server development, that side of things. Then when I was doing the servers, I started moving into an account Management role. So, we were selling services to people. There was a bit of billing, recharging, meeting them discussing their requirements, how things were changing for them in the coming years. We then started to remove recharging Intel, because it's pointless moving money around internally, and started looking at relationship management.
At that point I started looking up what the best practices are and things like that. I found BRM Institute, and the guidelines, and realized that there was an actual name for it, and a function, and best practice, and started from there really. I was doing that part time, and still doing technical things part time, and then it quickly grew, and I ended up doing it full time.
I think that the best thing about being a BRM is going out meeting people. Every day is different, you're out the office, you're meeting lots of people discussing what they need, trying to help them fulfil what they need, long term aims and strategies and things like that.
It's not just operational day to day fixing problems; it's working out long term issues and solving them and making people happy in the long run. The aspects I enjoy most are the face to face discussions and communication that happens with people and making a difference.
A typical day for me as a BRM is coming to work and check my emails along with everybody else and then go to my meetings. I'll have one to one meetings with the leaders of the different business units and we'll go to those meetings to discuss what's changed in the last three to six months. Normally the topic is focused around the period between the meetings and what's coming up in the next three to six months, anything that's changed longer term. They want to know what's happening of all our projects some new initiatives, what new technologies are out there. They might have seen something on the news about artificial intelligence and say, ‘What does that mean for me?’ and things like that. So, it's going through for all those kinds of things and discussions trying to work out what's changing from their side from the business. How are they growing spending and changing and then what's changing on the technology side and what does that mean for them and how is that going to support them? So generally, we have days like that, and then occasionally we'll have a major incident kicking off where there'll be some kind of big outage and we'll get dragged into that to help. We kind of manage expectations and things like that. Normally it’s the technical team that deal with it then it's escalated through our support teams, but we'll be managing the senior stakeholders through that major incident or large-scale change.
I think CBRM is important. BRMP gives you a really good foundation knowledge of the theory, the course, the best practices everything around that. The CBRM is really about implementing it, and how you use it for best practice and how you use it in your day to day life. What are the tools which you can use? How can you use them to get the most value out of it? There are so many different tools in there which are really valuable, and it's picking and choosing the best ones which work for you and using them in your day to day lives.
The BRM role adds value to the organization because it really links up the business strategies to the IT strategies. It's bringing them together so they're not two separate things running parallel, or the business saying what it wants IT to catch up. You really work in the middle trying to pull them together and work off a kind of single roadmap towards a common goal. And we found it beneficial to the university as a whole, BRM pulled it all together and gave that single driving force.
Salaries vary for BRM across different industries. Within Higher Education,as it's public sector, the pay is slightly lower, but it will generally start around £40,000 to £60,000 I’d say for the public sector. This can depend on how experienced you are; maybe you’re coming in as a junior BRM, or as a more strategic one. So, the lower level ones will be on a slightly lower pay grade. If that is the case, it's very easy and common to move up quite quickly. When you've got the CBRM qualification then you are working at that strategic level, you are going to be working at the higher end of that scale. Then of course if you're in the private sector you can add on 10 to 15 thousand on top of that, but probably with slightly less benefits perhaps, and holidays and things like that, all the nice bits you get in the public sector!
So, I think for BRM as a career, you can come from two sides you can come from the technical side like I did and try and learn the business side and the softer skills, which is easy for some people and harder for others.Alternatively you can come from the business side and then try and learn the technical skills. The idea with the BRM role is that you do know a bit of both. You don't have to be the absolute expert. You have to know who the experts are to call upon them at the right time. Generally, it's having those softer skills which are the most important ones, like empathy, things like that. The typical career paths come from either management roles, and then drifting into the BRM role, or business analysis and working through that side of things. It can purely come from the business and business leaders moving across into the technical side of things as well.
I think if you're about to start the CBRM course then I would wish you luck and pay attention to everything that's taught to you, especially around the different tools because this is what it's all about. It's about getting those tools and then finding out the best ones for you to implement to make a difference in the organization. It's not just about getting the certificate and adding it to your CV. It's around making a difference and having that value, bringing it back to your organization and then bring it.
Jeremy is a Business Relationship Manager (BRM) for Loughborough University and has worked at the University for over ten years across multiple teams within the IT Services department. Jeremy helped to create BRM role within his organisation and has ensured it’s a success and has grown to encompass all areas of the University. Jeremy is an active member of the Business Relationship Management Institute and serves as a vice chair of the council. Jeremy is certified in ITIL and BRM and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Information Systems and also a Masters in Management and Leadership in Higher Education.