Do More, Do It Faster

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Do More, Do It Faster: Summit Session Shows How to Leverage Software Platforms to Make Alliances More Efficient

Posted By Dan Caplinger, Wednesday, May 19, 2021

What you don’t know can hurt you. And getting full value out of alliances now means harnessing the growing power of technology to have complete, real-time information available at a glance.

Bridging the gap between alliance management and cutting-edge tech tools is the mission of software company allianceboard, and founder/CEO Louis Rinfret and chief commercial officer Michael Roch discussed how their alliance evaluation and analytics software platform can help stakeholders across the alliance spectrum in their 2021 ASAP Global Alliance Summit on-demand presentation, “Leveraging Alliance Evaluations to Maximize Value and Minimize Risk.”

Why Alliance Evaluations and Analytics Matter Now

Rinfret began the presentation with a simple premise: Evaluations are the foundation of sound alliance management and leadership. He described several equally important but very different types of alliance evaluations:

  • Screening evaluations focus on the front end of the funnel, judging how well companies do at finding new alliance opportunities and deciding which ones to move forward with.

  • Health-check evaluations review alliance management outcomes and processes with existing partnerships, assessing performance and relationship strength on an annual or semiannual basis. By including both top management and operational-level alliance professionals in a health check, everyone involved in an alliance has access to the same version of the truth.

  • Periodic business reviews offer a weekly, monthly, or quarterly look at the operational aspects of alliances. Measuring progress against goals, managing risk, and taking note of any issues are all essential to keep alliance projects moving forward.

  • Finally, a live dashboard that offers ongoing performance monitoring maximizes transparency and makes real-time information available to everyone who needs it throughout an organization.

Rinfret sees evaluations as being crucial to help companies do more at a faster pace. Maximizing the value of alliances is an obvious goal, and evaluations can keep stakeholders aligned, engaged, and working together toward positive outcomes, as well as improving the strategic learning and development process to drive better alliance decisions in the future.

Just as important, though, is minimizing risk. By finding potential issues before they become big problems, managing stakeholders’ expectations, and avoiding unnecessary disputes, alliance tracking and evaluation can be an early warning system for everyone in the alliance.

“You’re Doing It Already”

That might all sound intimidating, but Rinfret had good news: Alliance professionals are already doing a lot of this work.

The challenge, though, is that it may be happening in an ad hoc way. Vital information is scattered across presentations, spreadsheets, emails, and employees’ memories, and it often gets lost. What companies need is a more efficient, transparent, and credible process that’s consistent and predictable.

Roch went into more detail about the limitations of ad hoc approaches:

  • They lead to inconsistent use of metrics among different stakeholders.
  • They cloud the big picture across the entire alliance portfolio above the individual partner level.
  • They leave information gaps due to inconsistent process and unreliable data.
  • Having only partial institutional memory hampers organizational learning, succession, and team onboarding.
  • They create a lack of transparency with top management and key stakeholders in alliances.

The combination of those limitations leads to an unacceptable result. “You’re constantly working with different versions of the truth,” Roch explained, “and that misaligns you both internally and externally. Creating a single version of the truth is the key issue to address with evaluations and analytics.”

“The Really Important Things You Need to Focus On”

In Roch’s experience, evaluations need to focus on two levels: the total portfolio of alliances, and each individual partnership. He pointed to six analytical dimensions that present a clear picture of how alliances are performing:

  1. Strategic: Are alliances fulfilling their purpose and contributing to organizational learning?
  2. Financial: Does ROI justify cost?
  3. Risks: What are they, are they important, and can they be mitigated?
  4. Opportunity: Are valuable alliances flowing through the pipeline efficiently?
  5. Operational: Are alliances on track to meet milestones and lead to faster decision making?
  6. Relational: Are alliances a good fit to culture and operations across stakeholders?

Rinfret added that different audiences have different needs from evaluations. Senior management needs high-level views of alliances, financials, risks, and important upcoming milestones. Alliance management leaders need greater detail, including summary dashboards. Governance committees should know about milestones and key events but also get a sense of whether the right people are on the right committees. And on the ground floor, alliance personnel need everything—with sufficient granularity to ensure that they know the next steps on their deliverables.

For any alliance personnel, Rinfret said, “One of the benefits of building an analytics dashboard is to guide people toward the really important things they need to focus on and not be distracted by irrelevant or outdated information.”

Evaluations can also be useful in looking at different stages of the alliance life cycle. Analytics in the exploration phase focus on alliance opportunities and how far along they are. Startup evaluations determine how good a company is at launching and implementing alliances. Looking at how alliances actually operate involves tracking plan items and milestones to identify key issues and risks, with the goal of making smarter decisions. Finally, evaluating how companies close out alliances ensures that everyone understand expectations after the end of a collaboration.

The Platform in Action

Roch and Rinfret closed their Summit presentation with a look at the allianceboard software platform, which helps users optimize tracking and show value to stakeholders while reducing time to make decisions. The platform lets users automate management through one-click reports, dashboards, customized workflows, and partner evaluations and analytics, and it allows scaling alliances to collaborate in real time with partners and spend more time on high-value, high-impact work. It provides fast notifications using real-time data and can grow along with a company’s alliance portfolio to ensure that nothing gets dropped.

As Roch said in wrapping up, “No matter what business you’re in, your industry is transforming rapidly around fast-paced, partnership-based business models.” Thus, effective use of digital infrastructure can help boost efficiency and make alliances more productive for everyone.