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BD’s Nascent Alliance Management Practice Expands Company’s Global Reach

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 20, 2014
Originally posted on 11/22/2013

In 2012, Becton, Dickinson, and Company (BD) was at the doorstep of an exciting transition. Its core diabetes care portfolio was finding success. The company was expanding into new spaces that were more alliance-dependent than its core therapeutic area. Its operations were penetrating roughly 70 countries as its partner portfolio expanded and diversified.

Christopher DelGiudice, CA-AM, global leader for alliance management at Becton, Dickinson, and Company, was charged with the responsibility of instilling within the business unit’s senior management the understanding of the value of alliance management, developing relationships with people internally and at partner organizations that were going to be integral to the company’s partnerships, and turning tactical relationships into strategic ones.

DelGiudice described the first year of establishing BD’s alliance practice in his 2013 ASAP BioPharma Conference presentation “When You Are the First Alliance Manager.”

Step one in his quest: establish a baseline. DelGiudice interviewed 50 or so internal stakeholders and external partners to understand why the companies were partnering, who stakeholders think the company should partner with, which alliances were perceived as successful, the metrics used to gauge partnerships, whether consistent internal processes were in place, and who’s responsible for managing them, among other facets of the practice. BD was about to deploy non–alliance managers in alliance management roles, and DelGiudice found gaps that needed to be addressed.

The next step was to synthesize this feedback. DelGiudice grouped the many responses into four broad categories: 1) portfolio strategy, 2) roles and responsibilities, 3) individual alliance management challenges (e.g., people know why they’re partnering but don’t have metrics, obstacles with certain partners, unclear portions of contracts), and 4) culture/capability (i.e., the ability to partner at an early stage, instilling a consistency in BD’s collaborative nature).

DelGiudice felt that this process of integrating his “colleagues’ voice in process” was critical to gaining support and building credibility.

Finally, DelGiudice summarized the last step with the statement “plan your work and work your plan.” This entailed securing much-needed executive sponsorship, developing the vision and mission for the alliance management practice, communicating that vision to internal stakeholders, selecting the most critical regions and partnerships to focus on initially, influencing without authority in the countries themselves by helping with strategy and capability and routinely communicating success stories.

BD’s alliance practice has made significant progress in its first year. The business unit's alliance strategy is now understood and on the agenda of its leadership. Consequently, the level of executive support and engagement has increased significantly. In particular, regional sponsors helped secure buy-in from key personnel on the ground in various countries.

“You can never have too much air cover,” said DelGiudice.

In addition, BD began to reach its goal of transforming transactional partnerships into true strategic alliances. Where two years ago, there was no clear strategy and agreed-upon metrics for each partnership, DelGiudice’s team was now helping “accidental alliance managers” work through problems and find new opportunities. For example, one partner had a lot of employee turnover and was not clear on its value proposition. BD’s team uncovered new complementary objectives with this partner, and thus created more ways for the company and BD to work together. In addition, DelGuidice observed multiple successful interventions to problems cropping up in alliances around the globe, from China to Greece to Russia, among many other countries.

This helped DelGiudice build further credibility as a leader both with these partner organizations and internally within BD. He cashed in on this newfound equity to secure additional resources for his alliance group, most notably headcount and funding.

What are the next steps for BD? The alliance practice will need to replicate its successes, further shape the organization’s collaborative culture (i.e., hold people accountable for alliance-related deliverables), work on quantifying the value of its partnerships through additional measures and metrics, integrate alliance management into BD’s development and advocacy functions, and expand the reach of the organization’s capabilities globally; re: the latter, an idea BD is currently floating is to train “super users” in alliance principles in each region who would in turn teach their peers.

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