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Supreme Allies: ASAP Unveils 2020 Alliance Excellence Award Finalists

Posted By Jon Lavietes, Wednesday, January 15, 2020

It is that time of year again. ASAP has revealed its list of Alliance Excellence Award finalists for 2020. Like previous winners before them, this year’s nominees created innovative products, threw lifelines to citizens in need all around the world, increased company profits, got us closer to game-changing cancer drugs, and improved the internal function of individual alliances and alliance management practices.

“Each year, we find the companies that use the most fundamental tenets of alliance management to get powerful results from their collaborations, all the while tailoring these principles as necessary to fit an ever-changing business landscape,” said Ard-Pieter de Man, CSAP, PhD, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, who oversaw the evaluation and selection of submissions. “This year’s nominees are no different. Everyone in the alliance management community will learn a great deal from how these organizations achieved such amazing outcomes in 2019.”

Contenders will be vying for awards in the following four categories: 1) Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility, 2) Alliance Program Excellence, 3) Individual Alliance Excellence, and 4) Innovative Best Alliance Practice. (ASAP’s web site breaks down the criteria for each of these areas.)

Here is an overview of our finalists’ stories:

Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility

  • Banistmo – The largest bank in Panama teamed with Reciclar Paga, an organization that collects and recycles materials, to open “ecological ATMs” all over the country where citizens automatically receive credit in their Nequi Panamá accounts when they deposit plastic bottles, cans, and other recyclables. (Nequi Panamá is Banistmo's digital financial platform.)  
  • Ericsson – This telecommunications giant provided the foundation for the United Nations World Food Programme’s (WFP) Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC), which established and maintained voice and data connectivity in the aftermath of natural disasters. Hundreds of employee volunteers have been trained and deployed all over the world, supporting over 40 humanitarian relief efforts in 30 countries.
  • International SOS – The global medical and security services company partnered with wellness company Workplace Options to deliver comprehensive physical, mental, and emotional well-being services to expatriates, traveling students, and businesspeople worldwide. This partnership shows how the combination of industry-leading expertise from different organizations can support people in need.
  • Protiviti – Protiviti teamed with nonprofit organizations Feeding Children Everywhere and Rise Against Hunger to deliver millions of meals to hungry families around the world.  An open, flexible partnering model has enabled Protiviti to work with numerous partners across multiple locations worldwide.
  • SAS Institute – SAS’s ecosystem hosted the annual Nordic Hackathon, which aims to use “data for good.” Hackathon participants have created solutions that help doctors detect and treat heart failure, consumers make climate-friendly food choices, and war refugees find their families, among other use cases. The Hackathon is an integral part of SAS’s partnering program.

Alliance Program Excellence

  • Cancer Research UK (CRUK) – A global nonprofit institution established its inaugural alliance management function to provide strategic oversight and best-in-class practices to its large-scale strategic drug discovery collaborations and cofunded platform technology relationships. The alliance program is unique in the way it connects CRUK’s extensive network of academic researchers to biotech and pharmaceutical companies.
  • JDA Software – In response to increasing customer demand for cloud solutions, JDA revamped its Partner Advantage Program to include a prescriptive learning–based Partner Academy, two new partner-ready cloud environments, a Solutions Marketplace, and a Partner Locator, a searchable lead-generation engine for end users, among other features.
  • Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany ­– The pharma stalwart implemented a state-of-the-art performance management program for alliances including innovative metrics for decision making and benchmarking with competitors.  KPIs are tracked on a quarterly basis. Analysis of these KPIs quarter to quarter enables continuous improvement of the alliance management function.

Individual Alliance Excellence

  • Banistmo and Sodexo – The companies combined the former’s Nequi Panamá digital banking platform with Sodexo’s Vale Panamá voucher system to create e-vale, a tool that enabled business and public agencies to provide bonuses and incentives to employees. The alliance also succeeded in building an ecosystem around this product.
  • Cancer Research UK (CRUK) and Celgene – CRUK and Celgene formed an alliance centered on research into multiple cancer-associated proteins across diverse cancer types. The alliance was structured according to ASAP best practices and implemented a mechanism for CRUK to independently engage with its academic network and make flexible spending decisions.
  • Genpact and Deloitte Genpact’s collaboration with Deloitte featured a comprehensive mix of traditional alliance best practices and modern innovative tools, such as “social capital” and “Evangelists,” people with experiences at both firms whose primary role is to help drive the connection between the respective teams. 
  • Ipsen and Debiopharm – With their contract coming to an end in 2018, Ipsen and Debiopharm rebooted and revamped their 35-year-old alliance. The partners have shown an exemplary ability to reinvent their alliance. The reset resulted in a new partnership model and a new contract for the next 15 years of partnership.

 Innovative Best Alliance Practice

  • Alcon – The company’s Trinity partner relationship management system helped streamline the reporting, governance, analytics, and communication related to alliances that impact the organization’s business development and licensing (BD&L) group. The system enhanced compliance with alliance agreements and improved alliance management.
  • Citrix (Coopetition Guidance) – With its strategic allies acquiring competitors, Citrix created guidelines for transitioning away from partners-turned-rivals. The tool is publicly available and provides a step-by-step blueprint to develop a response strategy when a partner becomes a competitor.
  • Citrix (RFSA) – The virtualization giant’s Request for Strategic Alliances Engagement (RFSA) program aligned the engineering, product management, marketing, and alliance management functions so that the company could evaluate and respond to proposed initiatives from partners significantly faster.
  • PTC – The company cobranded a series of Digital Centers of Excellence (CoE) where partners can demo Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented Reality (AR), and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions to customers and prospects. This program had a significant effect on top-line growth.

“Every profession distinguishes its top performers, and ASAP is proud to do the honors for the crème de la crème in alliance management,” said Michael Leonetti, CSAP, president and CEO of ASAP. “With more and more organizations submitting for these honors, there is mounting evidence that organizations of all kinds see the Alliance Excellence Awards as a means to validating their standing as innovators.”

The winners will be announced on Tues., March 17 at the ASAP Global Alliance Summit in Tampa, Fla.  

Tags:  alliance  alliance management  Banistmo  Cancer Research UK  Celgen  Darmstadt  Debiopharm  Deloitte  ecosystem  Ericsson  Genpact  Germany  International SOS  Ipsen  JDA Software  Merck KGaA  Nequi Panamá  partnering model  partnering program  partners  partnership  Protiviti  SAS Institute  Sodexo 

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Coopetition Pulse Survey Request from ASAP EPPP Vantage Partners

Posted By Jonathan Hughes, Partner, Vantage Partners , Friday, December 20, 2019

In today’s rapidly evolving market ecosystems, interactions between companies are neither simple nor static.  Companies engage in both competitive and collaborative interactions with one another; companies that were once considered fierce competitors are now also each other’s most strategic partners.  Consider, for example – Amazon Prime Video and Netflix are fierce competitors in the video streaming space, and Amazon Web Services provides the backend infrastructure for Netflix’s streaming operations. 

Unfortunately, many companies fail to maximize value from their relationships – with resellers, alliance partners, customers, and suppliers – because they fail to employ effective strategies for managing coopetition.  How well does your organization optimize the value of its third-party relationships?

ASAP is collaborating with Vantage Partners in an effort to collect data points from its members which will contribute to the findings of this survey.  The outcomes of this survey will add to ASAP’s growing knowledge base and member resources.

Please consider contributing to this study by answering five short questions about your company’s experiences, capabilities, and strategies for managing coopetition with the Vantage Partners Coopetition Pulse survey:

Take the Vantage Partners Coopetition Pulse Survey now                                                                                          

You can also opt-in to receive our report, incorporating results from this survey, on the value of effectively engaging in coopetition, and what separates market leaders from laggards.  This survey is completely anonymous; responses will only be reported in aggregate and will not be attributed to any individual or company.  

Tags:  Amazon Prime Video  competitive  competitors  coopetition  ecosystems  Netflix  strategic partners  strategies  Vantage Partners 

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Sales Is Hard; Selling Together Is Harder: Operating in a Collaborative Selling Environment

Posted By Mike Leonetti, CSAP, Thursday, December 19, 2019

Recently I’ve had some interesting conversations with members, both in technology sales and in biopharma, that caused me to reflect on my own years of experience in pharma commercial alliances and also what I know from our members about go-to-market alliances on the tech side. I spent many years managing sales teams and commercial partnerships and thinking and working through the challenges involved. So I always listen with great interest when folks tell me about the issues they see coming up in their go-to-market collaborative selling efforts.

In addition, here at ASAP we’re currently doing a survey with IDC that among other things touches on joint incentive compensation (IC), so all of that got me to thinking about collaborative selling practices that may be similar between industries. No matter which vertical we’re in, we all tend to face similar challenges when it comes to joint selling. The biggest ones seem to boil down to these:

The “Kumbaya” factor. You’ve probably heard—or even said—some version of “Do nice to me and I’ll do nice to you,” or “You deal with your customers and I’ll deal with mine.” OK, that’s fine—I’m as big a believer in the Golden Rule and pulling together a team as the next person—but the truth is the effort must be focused around how we actually create additional value through our joint selling efforts. What new customers can we reach, how many additional high-value presentations can we make, and how can we together create a need for our product?

The what, the how, and the why. Does everyone on alliance selling teams understand the benefits, value, process, and procedures for creating value with this product or service? Have we spent enough time defining our mission, goals, and objectives? Does everyone understand regulatory limitations, order processing, and who are the key support personnel in the home office? Do we have a well thought out onboarding plan, or are salespeople simply being handed a product or solution with some heavy reading material and told to go sell it?

Time, coordination, and leadership. Partnership sales always requires more time. It takes coordination, proper routing, and customer service, and all of that requires collaboration—not typically a strong suit of most salespeople. For an executive who’s responsible for partnership sales, recognizing that collaboration may represent a developmental need for many salespeople and dedicating the time to focus and nurture that competency is a leadership requirement—but it can easily take a backseat in a competitive selling environment. Are we providing the time and guidance needed to include this coordination and development?

Rewarding collaborative behaviors. Do you model and reward collaborative behaviors? Rewards for sales folks are typically monetary-driven. Have you defined other rewards for repeating and achieving results from collaborative behavior that rival “sales rep of the month”? Although gift certificates and recognition will never carry the weight of a well-developed IC plan, it’s important to reward these behaviors and provide public recognition. And while incenting the final sale is critical, it’s also a great idea to recognize the behaviors that lead to sales results.

Credit where credit is due. Speaking of incentive compensation, have you defined proper ways for all selling partners to receive credit? Are their goals aligned? Is their payout equivalent for equivalent results? Who gets the credit? Or do you assume that both partners do? While there are many ways to create fair and partnership-oriented IC plans, many plans lack the proper planning for partnership sales incentives.

Socialization. Are you or have you completed your partner socialization efforts? It’s the small stuff that counts: sales rep roster exchange, team partner mapping, inclusion of partners in selling meetings, and ultimately, management’s recognition of not just its own sales reps, but the partner’s.

Company culture. Have you aligned your cultures? Do you understand the key differences between your two companies? Company A, for example, may require its sales reps to make eight calls a day, no excuses. Company B, on the other hand, requires just two high-quality calls per day—they’re more concerned about quality than quantity. So when A and B sell together, what’s the expectation for the partnership?

Account management. Have you aligned accounts, targets, lead generation, and prospects for the multiple parties selling to these accounts? Do your support teams understand the impacts or requirements when assigning targets, and how are joint sales targets prioritized and accounted for? What about entertainment? How are the dollars shared? Whose company’s policies and practices prevail?

These are just a few of the collaborative sales challenges that I’ve been discussing with others lately. I think they’re probably common to most go-to-market alliance efforts, as well as to copromotion in biopharma, or any joint selling process that occurs when two or more companies come together with collaborative selling practices.

What do you think? What are some of the challenges you see? Let’s start a dialogue. Type in a comment below.

Tags:  Account management  alliances collaborative selling  collaborative  collaborative behaviors  commercial partnerships  company culture  competitive selling  leadership  partners  partnership-oriented  socialization 

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Collaboration: Easier Said Than Done

Posted By Jan Twombly, CSAP, President, The Rhythm of Business, Thursday, December 12, 2019

The following blog was originally posted by ASAP corporate member and Education Provider Partner,  The Rhythm of Business.

Collaboration is a business buzzword that everyone thinks they know what it means and how to do it, but few truly do; yet it has never been more important than it is today. In addition to the lack of collaborative skills and mindset would-be collaborators also face a Collaboration Paradox— the systems, processes, and policies that have enabled success in the past reinforce barriers impeding success in today’s ecosystem-based collaborative business models. Developing the necessary capability—the mindset, skillset, and toolset for intra- and inter-organizational collaboration—is a work in process for most organizations. This capability also needs a backbone to latch itself to—the culture, policies, and processes of a leadership system that enable and encourage collaborative ways of working.

As a business concept du jour, collaboration means everything from open office concepts to electronic documents that multiple people can work on simultaneously, to team work. These are all elements of collaboration, but they fail to adequately define it. Collaboration is a risk sharing and resource leveraging strategic behavior that necessitates coordinating activities and exchanging information for mutual benefit. It requires an environment of trust, transparency, and respect. It is a comprehensive way of thinking and acting that takes proficiency in multiple skills. It is not a single skill and certainly not a technology.

Companies that are successful in becoming digitally-enabled and customer-obsessed—and therefore prepared to compete as we enter the 2020s—are those best able to collaborate internally and externally. For example, MIT Sloan Management Review’s research finds that: “A focus on collaboration—both within organizations and with external partners and stakeholders—is central to how companies create business value and establish competitive advantage.”[1] According to a study by SAP, “Digital winners tend to have more managers with strong collaboration skills than lower performing companies. In addition, 74 percent of these top performing companies plan to actively nurture the concept of collaboration within their organizations over the next few years.”[2]

Despite collaborative skills becoming ever more the imperative, the reality of collaborative execution is far more challenging than the data would have you believe. In a study from Capgemini, approximately 85 percent of executives believe that their organizations easily collaborate across functions and business units, whereas only a little over 40 percent of their employees—who are actually on the front-lines of collaboration—agree.[3] A Harvard Business Review article on collaboration sheds light on this collaboration gap:

Leaders think about collaboration too narrowly: as a value to cultivate but not a skill to teach. Businesses have tried increasing it through various methods, from open offices to naming it an official corporate goal. While many of these approaches yield progress—mainly by creating opportunities for collaboration or demonstrating institutional support for it—they all try to influence employees through superficial or heavy-handed means, and research has shown that none of them reliably delivers truly robust collaboration.[4]

Does this mean that, while collaboration works in theory, it can’t be practically applied? Not at all. But the question does strike at the heart of the problem—collaboration is easier said than done.

Let’s look at a simple example. A company we were engaged with instituted a campaign to improve collaboration amongst sales teams. The company spent a lot of time, effort, and money on a program intended to promote collaboration within the teams. When the results were evaluated, the program’s sponsors found that level of collaboration hadn’t improved at all.

Our analysis quickly identified why that was the case. The teams’ performance was evaluated by rank-ordering each of the team members from best to worst. And, using the existing performance criteria, the individuals at the top received a number of “rewards” for their success, while the folks at the bottom of the rankings lost their jobs. Clearly, the evaluation process encouraged an “everyman for himself” approach that was exactly the opposite to the desired increase in team collaboration.

That’s the collaboration paradox at work—rewarding the traditional approach while investing to get the desired increase in collaboration. Despite focusing on collaborative skill building, the company neglected to adjust their employee evaluation and reward system—elements of the leadership system—to support collaboration. Leadership worked to change the evaluation system to reward collaboration and our subsequent analysis demonstrated both increases in collaboration and sales performance.

This is but one example of attempts to foster collaboration falling flat because the leadership system was built for competition among team members, not collaboration. Until companies evolve their leadership systems, collaboration as a strategic behavior will remain easier said than done.

[1] David Kiron, “Why Your Company Needs More Collaboration,” MIT Sloan Management Review, Fall 2017

[2] Virginia Backaitis, “Collaboration Leads to Success in Digital Workplaces,” SAP Survey, 2017

[3] “The Digital Culture Challenge: Closing the Employee-Leadership Gap,” Capgemini Digital Transformation Institute, 2018

[4] Francesca Gino, “Cracking the Code on Sustained Collaboration,” Harvard Business Review, November-December 2019.

Tags:  collaboration  collaboration paradox  collaborative skills  Jan Twombly  leadership system  The Rhythm of Business 

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Q4 Strategic Alliance Quarterly Sourcing Outtakes: The Power of the First Draft, Ever-Changing Tech Standards, Customers and the Cloud, Value vs. Discounts

Posted By Jon Lavietes, Wednesday, December 11, 2019

In our upcoming issues of Strategic Alliance Monthly and Strategic Alliance Quarterly, we will examine the changing nature of supplier collaborations in today’s business world. In a lengthy feature for Strategic Alliance Quarterly, we dive deep into how advanced digital technologies are transforming sourcing and procurement managers’ jobs such that they now need alliance management skills and practices to effectively carry out their responsibilities. Meanwhile, a feature in our next edition of Strategic Alliance Monthly explores how a company can become a preferred supplier in the eyes of its partner.

As is the case with just about every piece we put together for ASAP’s publications, there were plenty of great insights left over from our interviews with experts from the ASAP community that don’t appear in either article. Here are just a few of those nuggets.

Alliance Agreements and the Power of the Pen

Andrew Eibling, CSAP, vice president of business development and alliance management at Enable Injections, Inc., made it known several times during our conversation that he felt that, in pharma, the procurement division was generally a parking lot for nonstrategic partnerships. In other words, wind up with a procurement manager as your point of contact and odds are that you have almost zero chance of having any real influence over the partner organization’s affairs. In that discussion, Eibling noted that initial contract negotiations offered a sign of how a partner will view your organization and relationship. The goal is to agree on a contract that hews closer to the principles set forth in The ASAP Handbook of Alliance Management rather than a boilerplate supplier agreement, and the best way to ensure this is to compose the first draft for the partner’s review.

“Somebody has the power of the pen. Who drafts the agreement first? Everyone wants to take the first pass because that becomes the substrate you’re going to work from,” said Eibling. He added that an alliance agreement “tends to be more bidirectional versus what we would get from a monodirectional supplier agreement [where] you will do what’s on the schedule according to the terms we agreed to, and that’s that.”

Are We a “Standards Fit”?

An important element to assembling a tech alliance that we didn’t end up exploring in great depth in the feature was the layer of complexity added by the number of disparate standards for emerging technologies, such as cloud and IoT, competing in the marketplace. Companies putting together a smart tractor, for example, have to find partners that are not only a feature/function fit and a cultural fit but also a “standards fit,” so to speak—that is, they base their systems on technical protocols that align with your IT architecture.

“Things are moving so fast. You might get a standard out there and get everybody to adopt it, but then some new technology comes along that disrupts it all. You’ve spent all this money on standardization and it didn’t endure. That’s one of the reasons why, as a supplier, you need to know what your customers’ sourcing strategies are, and if you’re going to be compatible with the direction they are going in,” said Russ Buchanan, CSAP, vice president of strategic alliances at Xerox and ASAP’s chairman emeritus.

As an example, Buchanan talked about how companies that base their technology on proprietary standards want to be sure to avoid getting entwined with organizations that are placing their chips on open source models.

“OK Google: I’m Seeing Other Cloud Companies”

Subhojit Roye, CSAP, vice president and head of alliances at Tech Mahindra Business Services, singled out the three cloud Goliaths—Google, AWS, and Microsoft—as another potential source of complexity in constructing an alliance. One or more of those vendors may pressure the manufacturer to make it the exclusive cloud platform for the new product or service, but in many cases decent portions of the OEM’s customer base may be split among each of the three cloud leaders. The manufacturer can’t risk alienating a portion of its clients. Thus, the sourcing manager may need to stand up to a powerful market mover, something alliance managers have been doing for years.

“Suddenly, if you’re the procurement manager you have to explain to Google, ‘I’m sorry, but customers are demanding that we have to talk with all three companies,’” Roye said.

Don’t Nickel-and-Dime a Valuable Relationship

More than one interviewee stressed that lower prices are no longer the end game for sourcing and procurement managers. Overall value is the buyer’s main goal. Roye explained the situation in greater detail.

“The procurement function is becoming more and more strategic. The chief marketing officer is becoming critical. Chief customer service officer, the head of sales, and the CEO are suddenly banking on the procurement officer to say, ‘Listen, those days are gone. Don’t nickel-and-dime the vendor. Don’t ask him to give us a $10 item for $6. We’d rather get more value for $10. We’d rather pay him $12 to make sure he’s happy with us, he gives us our products on time—we don’t wind up with a screw-up on Thanksgiving or during the winter holidays—or he doesn’t switch at the last minute and go to a competitor.”

Remember, this is just what hit the cutting room floor. Be sure to check out the next issues of Strategic Alliance Monthly and Strategic Alliance Quarterly for more great insights into alliance management vis-à-vis the sourcing and procurement functions in today’s corporate landscape. 

Tags:  alliances  Andrew Eibling  AWS  Cloud  digital technologies  Enable Injections  Google  IoT  Microsoft  procurement  relationship  Russ Buchanan  Sourcing  Strategic Alliance Quarterly  Subhojit Roye  Tech Mahindra Business Services  Tech Standards  transforming sourcing  Value vs. Discounts  Xerox 

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