Originally posted on 5/15/2014
Metrics matter to senior managers, so they also matter to alliance professionals. Key metrics can indicate whether an alliance strategy is working, and what elements of the strategy are working better than others. R. Lynn Richard, CA-AM and vice-president of global alliances at Unisys Corporation, tackles this topic in a May 21 ASAP Netcast webinar (the recording can be found in the Member Resource Library). His presentation links alliance strategies to execution, and he gives tips on building scorecards and management dashboards, using real case studies.
At Unisys, Richard manages selected strategic alliances. He leads both strategies and development, and assists in support for field sales teams. Prior to joining Unisys, he worked twelve years for IBM, and he has more than twenty years’ experience in alliance development and management.
We asked him for his take on a number of issues related to measurement and metrics in alliance management. Following are his answers.
ASAP Media: How accurate and useful can metrics and scorecards be in alliance management—especially measuring the factors that are critical to success in early stages, prior to any revenue generation?
R. Lynn Richard: Metrics are not only very useful gauges on the health and progress of an alliance internally but scorecards are very helpful in jointly managing the alliance with counterparts. The metrics are both a manifestation of strategy and results but also the progress of investments and activities leading to those results. In short, a mutually accepted scorecard helps keep everyone on the same page and helps to know when things are going well, as well as when corrective actions need to take place.
What are the most important metrics for alliance management? What are some specific financial and non-financial metrics that you might track? Do you track them at various specific stages?
RLR: Of course, revenue and opportunity pipeline are important and essential. Yet, we should also track joint investment, joint marketing, joint sales activities, as well as technical activities and governance. These should tracked as soon as execution of a strategy begins. The metrics can be changed as execution accelerates, but tracking early signals of execution is very important.
Give us an example of where some elements of a strategy were working better than others, and what was changed based on the use of metrics. How did it work out?
RLR: In our view, the health of the alliance depends on mutual and joint work, investment, and involvement. When these leading indicator metrics are one sided or not taken seriously, the results will ultimately be affected. When we review these regularly we can make adjustments in both strategy and tactics, depending on the mutual commitment. I can think of an example of increasing joint commitment as the tracking of investment in enablement and marketing increased. Putting a spotlight on important pipeline driving activities is very helpful.
You say, “An average strategy well executed is better than a brilliant strategy never executed.” Can you give you an example of this—where a company overreached and in the process failed to execute on an opportunity? How do metrics help in this situation?
RLR: Mutual and respective execution, in the end, is indication of the quality of the strategy and the commitment to achieve goals. If there is strong and mutual commitment to tactical execution, the strategy will look good. If a strategy, perceived as brilliant, is never executed, then goals will not be achieved and the metrics will reveal a lack of commitment along the way. I can think of a situation where a strategy was formulated, but there was a lack of commitment in the field to invest, act, and execute tactics. Had these tactics been executed, we would have had a chance to win. Without execution, the strategy fails. Metrics and scorecards give us an understanding along the way how well the strategy is embraced—the level of commitment—and if the goals tied to the strategy have a chance to win.
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