Business Relationship Management and academics

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Tara Lamplough, Head of Business Partnering, shares her reflections on findings from the BRMConnect Conference in New Orleans, run by the BRM Institute. This is the second in a short series of blog posts about the BRMConnect Conference. 

Business Relationship Management (BRM) is a combination of knowledge, skills and behaviours which improve the productivity of the relationship between a service provider (IT Services) and their business partners (departments across the rest of the University).

BRM with academics in Purdue University

Purdue University, Indiana, is actively involved with the BRM Institute. Representatives from Purdue presented at the conference about how their BRM function works.

Purdue has fully embraced BRM. The team at BRMConnect work within the School of Agriculture and they have 4 full-time BRMs supporting that one school. Of the 300 academics in the school they are currently partnering 125 of them.

They’ve seen lots of benefits to resourcing heavily in BRM, including:

  • Preventing many local bespoke solutions being set up, by getting into conversations early to signpost existing services.
  • Identifying common needs across the academic community, which they can design a shared IT service for.
  • The academic staff are no longer wasting their research/teaching time trying to buy IT solutions; they know they have a trusted IT partner who understands their needs.

Each member of the BRM team spent three months shadowing the academics, getting involved in teaching and research activities. The team then got back together to plan their objectives and priorities. This has helped them to speak the language of the academic community and fully understand what they are working on.

Diagram showing the BRM delivery process
How their BRM roles and technology partners work together: BRMs focused on the beginning and end of the delivery process

Back home at UoB

Here at UoB, Business Partnering is already happening in the Colleges via the College IT Managers – but this is only a small percentage of their roles currently. We do also have research engagement roles – but their activity is spread across a large research community.

The BRMConnect session prompted me to reflect on whether we could sell the benefits to UoB of moving towards a model closer to Purdue’s. It certainly makes more sense for an IT professional to be evaluating and procuring IT solutions than a world-leading academic, who should be able to focus their time on their research and teaching.

Having so many BRM roles in one College or School may seem like a luxury – however, if it’s preventing duplicate services and identifying needs earlier, the benefits would be seen across IT Services and the wider UoB community.

Find out more

If you’d like to find out more about this session, the UCISA bursary scheme or BRMConnect conference then please email

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