Piercing the Boundaries: BRM Capability and B2B Collaboration.

Let’s take a deeper look to understand a Business Relationship Management Capability then what is meant by B2B Collaboration and finally defining what needs to transpire in order to pierce the boundaries.‍

When I was asked to write this article and given the topic my first thoughts were probably like most. I

immediately visualized two businesses sharing information and wondered what role (BRM) Business

Relationship Management would play in this activity. As I began to think about my experiences as a

(BRM) Business Relationship Manager I immediately uncover something different.

First, let’s take a deeper look to understand a Business Relationship Management Capability then what

is meant by B2B Collaboration and finally defining what needs to transpire in order to pierce the


What is a Business Relationship Management Capability?

A Business Relationship Management Capability defined by the (BRMI) Business Relationship

Management Institute is “a set of competencies (e.g. knowledge, skills, and behaviors) to foster an

effective business value-producing relationship between a service Provider and consuming Business

Partners”. They go on to explain the enterprise at large is the ultimate beneficiary of improved

relationships and converged business capabilities holistically across the value chain, optimizing value to

the enterprise and to its customers.

Business Relationship Management cultivates and forms the connective tissue focusing value chain

partners on common objectives and shared goals. Without it, an enterprise tends to consist of silos.

B2B Collaboration Defined

The term B2B in its purist form describes an activity where one entity executes a process to facilitate an

act with another or in our discussion a collaboration. These entities happen to be businesses. According

to Wikipedia, Business-to-Business (B2B) refers to a situation where one business makes a commercial

transaction with another. This typically occurs when:

  • A business is sourcing materials for their production process
  • Business needs the services of another for operational reasons, e.g. a food manufacturer employing an accountancy firm to audit their finances
  • A business re-sells goods and services produced by others, e.g. a retailer buying the end product from the food manufacturer

Piercing the Boundaries

So let’s see how Business Relationship Management can pierce the boundaries of B2B Collaboration and

explore what that means.

The BRM is the connector between the Demand (Business Partner) and Supply (Provider Organization)

and we have become accustomed to working with internal suppliers of services, specifically the IT

organization. We spend countless hours learning how to navigate the internal waters to work on behalf

of the business, developing value plans and ensuring appropriate resources are allocated for approved

projects and programs.

Where this can become interesting is when we have to stretch beyond our four walls and work with a

third party solution provider on behalf of the business partner. Our ability to effectively work with third

party solution providers has become increasing more important with so many companies looking at SaaS

(Software As A Service), NaaS (Network As A Service), IaaS (Infrastructure As A Service) and IoT (Internet

of Things). Whether it’s an internal or a third party solution provider both entities single most important

reason for being is to enable business initiatives with value based solutions. What I’ve seen done

typically is the BRM works with the business to identify (Shape Demand) a need, then they reach out to

an internal or third party solution provider to develop a solution. While this can work, it does not

establish the optimal framework between the business partner, solution provider and BRM.

In an effort to drive optimal value to the business, we must pierce the boundaries in an effort to elevate

the “service provider” to strategic partner status. As BRMI trained professionals we know strategic

partnering assists with vision and demand shaping, ensuring overall delivery, and effective

communication. Strategic partners must become respected contributors to the business leadership

team, earning a “seat at the table”, and successfully articulating how their products and services drive

value realization. Let’s explore how this can be done.

A Tool for Success

Third party solution providers have different business models that reflect different business drivers.

They are very skilled at Demand Shaping to drive sales and revenue for their companies. This is where

the BRM has to be keenly aware of the solution being provided since most solutions from third party

providers are designed to provide future opportunities for services.

Hypothetically, if there was a tool that could provide the BRM with the ability to facilitate Solution Based

and Value Based discussions between a Provider (Internal or Third Party) and the Business Partner it

would be extremely valuable in these situations. Fortunately, the BRMI team has developed a technique

called Linking Business Drivers to Technology. This technique focuses on the key areas extremely

important to elevating the provider to a strategic partner. They are: Business Drivers, Business

Initiatives, IT Enablers, Technology, Solution and Value Based Discussions. All of which are necessary to

build a trusted relationship with the business based on quantifiable value, drive conversation clarity

between the solution and its quantifiable business value and ultimately piercing the boundaries to

elevate the “service provider” to strategic partner status.

The End Game

The BRM Capability is to ensure provider’s products or services align with business objectives and to

reposition them as a “Strategic partner” versus “Service Provider”. Since the ultimate goal is to enable

business innovation, stay ahead of the competition and the changing consumer demands business

leaders must rely on collaborative business models based on trusted strategic relationships. Having a

strong strategic partner is paramount for business leaders to deliver in this ever changing marketplace

and it’s the BRM Capability and the Business Relationship Manager who can be the catalyst to help

pierce through these traditional boundaries.

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