Survey Says: Digital Alliance Management Platforms Help Foster Better Outcomes

Posted By: Jon Lavietes BioPharma Conference,

Every industry seems to be developing elaborate software platforms, replete with intuitive, comprehensive dashboards that help track activities, reduce administrative work, and facilitate quick and reliable reporting to key stakeholders. However, alliance management may be lagging in terms of adoption of such broad-view software applications as compared to other functions, according to recent data unveiled at the 2021 ASAP BioPharma Conference by the founders of alliance management software company allianceboard. 

In their presentation “Digital Maturity and the Evolving Role of Biopharma Alliance Management,” allianceboard’s founder and CEO Louis Rinfret, PhD, and chief commercial officer Michael Roch, CA-AM, walked conference attendees through the findings of the company’s Digital Alliance Maturity Index, which also revealed that companies aren’t allocating sufficient resources to alliance management practices. The software vendor’s proprietary index provided strong indications that fixing the former problem could lead to solving the latter; a strong digital alliance management platform could lead to better partnership outcomes and earn greater internal investment.

Maturity Matters

In other words, “digital maturity matters in alliance management today,” said Roch.

The Digital Alliance Maturity Index was built upon results of allianceboard’s ongoing survey of a wide variety of professionals. Respondents included executives with a variety of titles, including C-suite members and others outside of the alliance practice, employed at companies of all sizes in terms of headcount and revenue.

According to the index, only 27 percent of organizations either agreed (18 percent) or strongly agreed (9 percent) that they are satisfied with their digital alliance management tools. Conversely, almost half either disagreed (42 percent) or strongly disagreed (6 percent), which suggested there is plenty of room for improvement in alliance management software capabilities.

How does falling behind technologically hamper the alliance management group? The most visible consequence is the lack of speed in decision making and relative disorganization that comes with manual, paper-based processes. But the implications are more far-reaching when you peel back layers of the onion. Roch and Rinfret outlined the cascading effect that ends up reducing the alliance management function’s resources in the end.

Although few executives unequivocally don’t understand the value alliances are bringing to their companies (10 percent) and one-third clearly see how partnerships benefit them, more than half (57 percent) neither agree nor disagree that they see clearly the larger contributions of their collaborations.

Channel Doesn’t Reach the C-Suite After Launch  

There are many factors that could potentially explain why this is so, but one that might slip under the casual observer’s radar is that alliance managers are too bogged down in administrative work to focus on the strategic elements that matter to the C-suite and proactively manage up to senior stakeholders. Almost half spend anywhere from 11 to 25 percent of their time manually updating spreadsheets, reports, dashboards, and presentations—8 percent spend two-thirds of their time or more—while 40 percent spend a quarter or half their time chasing down internal stakeholders through email, messaging platforms, and meetings.

In addition, 37 percent say they do not have relevant information at their fingertips to onboard new alliance team members quickly, a particularly thorny problem for the pharmaceutical industry, which sees lots of turnover in collaborations that often run more than a decade.

Simply put, alliance managers don’t appear to have the time and tools to present the information that matters to senior leaders. Only 23 percent of relevant stakeholders have a clear view of risks associated with alliances, while 45 percent don’t. Moreover, almost 60 percent don’t know if their partnerships are delivering expected value.   

“When a new alliance is announced, typically there’s a lot of excitement in the organization,” said Rinfret. “Executives, of course, understand what the purpose of this alliance is. As the company continues to move forward, a lot of things happen. There’s not a good channel between the alliance team—those who are involved in making this work—and the C-suite. The C-suite starts losing visibility and understanding of what’s happening, and with that of course comes less proactiveness, less support, etc.”

Effective Partnering and Digital Infrastructure Come in Threes (or More)

This is where a digital alliance management platform can help diminish bureaucratic tasks and allow alliance managers to spend their energies serving as a strategic advisor to the rest of the organization. According to results of the Digital Alliance Maturity Index, those that score highly on their perceived overall partnering capacity and digital infrastructure—defined by the index as netting a score of three or higher on a five-point scale—also end up with high marks in value realization, operational efficiency, risk management, and strategic agility.

“Leaders” scored 3.95 collectively in overall partnering capacity, and they also rated at or north of three in value realization (3.1), operational efficiency (3.1), risk management (3.0), and strategic agility (3.3). “Laggards” averaged 2.6 in partnering capacity and predictably saw a reverse correlation—2.5 for value realization, 2.6 for operational efficiency and risk management, and 2.9 for strategic agility.   

Isolate digital infrastructure scores—3.64 for leaders and 2.07 for laggards—and a similar trend emerges. Scores ranged from 3.4 to 3.7 on the four business outcomes for the former and 2.4 to 3.0 for the laggards, with strategic agility being the lone category to reach the 3.0 plateau. Combine overall partnering capacity and digital infrastructure and the gap in scores widens—leaders outperform laggards by a whopping 47 percent. The lesson: you need both the software and the best practices to optimize your alliance portfolio.

“If you do a really good job on partnering capacity and digital infrastructure, then you get even better results in terms of business outcomes,” Rinfret summarized.

ASAP BioPharma Conference registrants can still access the “Digital Maturity and the Evolving Role of Biopharma Alliance Management” presentation in the event portal. Watch it now and learn how digital alliance management platforms help track everything in one place, de-risk many elements of day-to-day management, and enable alliance professionals to focus on strategy and reduce decision time.