What Is Alliance Management?

The function and discipline of alliance management has been around for decades, yet in much of the business world it remains poorly understood. As organizations seek growth via partnering—along with or as an alternative to internal development or acquisitions—the art of managing collaborations has become recognized as a core business skill, increasingly in demand. More professionals than ever before are now being called upon to lead and grow external business relationships in value-creating, collaborative ways, even though they may not have “alliances” or “partnering” in their titles. With experience and education, these de facto alliance managers can become better and more effective in the role, as can those who have consciously entered alliance management as a profession.

As is often said, if you’ve seen one alliance…you’ve seen one alliance. Alliances vary by industry, size, complexity, type, and more. They range from one-to-one collaborations between two entities to multipartner go-to-market partnerships all the way up to vast, complex ecosystems of many partners large and small, with the largest orchestrating or anchoring the ecosystem and the smallest operating in niches within that “universe.”

Whatever the size, industry, type, or stage, alliances all need to be managed so that they can achieve their strategic intent. It doesn’t happen automatically—and research has shown that upwards of 50 percent of alliances fail when not properly managed—which is where ASAP comes in. ASAP principles and practices give alliance professionals the tools to manage their alliances, ecosystems, and other collaborations better and more successfully.