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What Leads to Alliance Excellence? A Q&A Session with the 2015 ASAP Alliance Excellence Award Winners

Posted By Cynthia Hanson, Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Directly following the ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards ceremony at the 2015 Global Alliance Summit at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Florida, USA, Jan Twombly, CSAP, president of The Rhythm of Business, held an insightful question and answer session with executives representing each of the award recipients. The session uncovered insights into the hurdles award winners jumped to reach the highest mark.

The Individual Alliance Excellence Award is given to a company that has excelled in planning, implementation, and results for a single alliance. The alliance may be between two companies or multiple organizations in the category of small-to-midsize company alliance and/or emerging alliance. Utilities aren’t known for partnering, but National Grid broke away from the pack, procuring and donating 55 weather stations to schools and first responder sites in a partnership with Earth Network’s weather monitoring equipment distributor WeatherBug. The project provides free, accessible, local weather information to communities while improving storm response and power restoration, which saves local businesses and customers millions of dollars.

“Our alliance delivered twice, first for National Grid to better understand where damage will occur.  Second, with community engagement and stewardship,” Eliza Davis, lead program manager, alliance and vendor strategy at National Grid, pointed out during the Q&A. “We also allowed a new priority to evolve due to customer need and response” with the unique use of weather monitoring equipment in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education programs.

The Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility Award is for partnerships that make a profound, measurable, and positive social impact. The principal objective of the alliance is social impact, not profit—although profit, especially if used to fund program expansion, is not discouraged. The Dow Chemical Company and The Nature Conservancy received the award for a partnership that factors the value of nature into business decisions—a crucial step forward in fostering sustainability. The project “moved us beyond basic philanthropy,” observed Elizabeth Uhlhorn, sustainability program manager at Dow. It created an environmental protection framework with a methodology for identifying and measuring (or valuing) tangible benefits of ecosystem services to integrate into corporate decision-making processes. The unusual alliance resulted in a viable plan for significant change in corporate practice that can be a sustainable model for other corporations.

 

The Innovative Best Alliance Practice Award is presented to a company using new, individual alliance management tools or processes that have an immediate and powerful impact on the organization and/or discipline of alliance management. These tools or processes are not comprehensive alliance programs but additions to existing alliance practice that address specific elements of alliance management such as measurement, training, conflict resolution, general communication across-the-partner ecosystem, or similar facets of the discipline. Philips won the award for its efforts to fine-tune the best structure to “help people get aligned and marching in the same direction,” explained Cees Bijl, vice president at Philips. Philips used an innovative two-step approach to create a joint brand identity for an alliance. It involved designing a framework and methodology that defines the most appropriate co-branding to prevent conflict, enhance effective communication between partners, and support an equal and well-grounded relationship. This is the second ASAP award for Philips, which is “confirmation that the direction we are going in is a good one,” he added.

JanssenPharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson received honorable mention for its globally accessible alliance scorecard and assessment tool, which can be used by one or multiple alliances to capture key strategic, operational, financial, and relationship metrics in a single assessment program, allowing participants to monitor progress individually or across the portfolio.

The Alliance Program Excellence Award is given to organizations that exceed expectations by consistently implementing and managing alliance portfolios and demonstrating consistent success of those alliances over time. Winners build programs on creativity, efficiency, an integrated suite of processes, tools, professional development/alliance professional certification, and other elements. Takeda Pharmaceuticals received the award for the creation of its progressive Center of Excellence (COE) to reach more broadly across functions and geographies, including emerging markets in China, South Korea, and Russia. Members can now extensively share best practices and tools for training, management, research, enhanced communication, and an on-line portal.

“We had a rock star kind of a team. They literally spent 50 percent of their time for many years” working on this project, said Andy Hull, vice president, global alliances, at Takeda. 

Bayer HealthCare received honorable mention for its significant investment into an Alliance Capability Enhancement Project to drive a partnering mindset and alliance best practices deep into the organization. 

Tags:  2015 ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards  2015 Global Alliance Summit  Andy Hull  Cees Bijl  CSAP  Earth Networks  Eliza Davis  Elizabeth Uhlhorn  Jan Twombly  Janssen  National Grid  Philips  STEM  Takeda  The Dow Chemical Company  The Nature Conservancy 

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A Classic Story Presented with a New Spin at the 2014 ASAP BioPharma Conference:the Journey to Global Alliance Management Begins with a Single Center

Posted By Rebekah L Fraser, Thursday, September 4, 2014

"More audits. More audits. More audits!" Stu Kliman pumps his fist in the air. The audience laughs.

 

We're nearing the end of a highly engaging panel discussion led by Kliman, entitled, "The Journey to Global Alliance Management."  Kliman has spent the last 40 minutes expertly guiding Mary Jo Struttman and Andy Hull through the process of sharing their stories with a fairly large audience in the Hyatt Regency's grand ballroom at the 2014 ASAP BioPharma Conference in Boston.  

 

This type of session is my favorite. There are no slides, no speeches; just stories, told casually by experts in the field of alliance management.  The relaxed atmosphere seems to suit the rest of the audience, as well. Folks appear to be listening intently.

 

Every major corporation is doing business globally these days, so Kliman makes sure to define the parameters of the conversation at the start of the session. "What does it mean to build a global alliance network," he asks.  "What are the goals? What's the distinction between an alliance management function and an alliance management capability?"

 

The alliance management function can own the alliance management capability; the function can drive the capability.  Yet the presence of the AM function does not automatically guarantee the presence of the capability.  Among the thousands of partnering interactions that must occur regularly, how many actually involve alliance managers?  How can an organization use the alliance management function to drive, push, and enable the AM capability?

 

Developing a global alliance management network is the answer.  Astellas and Takeda chose to create a global AM network in the form of a Center of Excellence (CoE).  Since establishing their CoE for alliance management, Takeda has seen many positive results. Astellas is just beginning the process. Establishing a global alliance management Center of Excellence enables the company to define best practices and consistent behavior patterns within the AM function. Struttman envisions connecting Astellas' top alliance managers around the world, so those who know how to collaborate and have expertise in the field can guide those who are just learning. 

 

Essentially, setting clear boundaries and parameters gives individual alliance teams the freedom to customize each alliance based on the goals defined by all of the key stakeholders, without constant oversight and micromanagement from executives.  

 

"It's not playing nice in the sand box," Struttman explains. "It's the skills... You have a repository of tools, guidelines, and fundamental basics. However you still have knowledge and expertise. " 

 

Both Struttman and Hull share their experiences openly. Hull describes conducting a needs assessment with the alliance management team at Takeda's research sites around the globe. "What was amazing was the list of challenges, and the list of what people needed and wanted was almost identical," he explains.  

 

Across the globe, Takeda's alliance managers requested clear guiding principles and philosophy, clarification and definition of the AM role, tools, skills, and training. They wanted to know what to capture in meeting minutes, what approach to take in internal communications about a given partnership, etc.  At the same time, they feared the center of excellence would create a rigid SOP.  Hull reports that is the opposite of what Takeda leadership wanted to create.  In fact, Takeda chose to keep standard AM reporting requirements separate from the CoE.  Instead, Takeda's global AM team reports to and receives support from an executive steering committee that includes the leaders of emerging markets, research, and business development.

 

"Even though there's no reporting relationship, we're all connected with this virtual center. We get together live, and via phone.  The people who didn't have alliance management skills initially really wanted it, and they ended up being the experts at their sites," Hull explains.

 

The takeaway is this: when people are empowered to design a CoE with procedures, tools, educational opportunities, and strategies based on their needs, they develop a sense of ownership and become the CoE's greatest advocates.  Their work lives are easier and more fruitful, which works to the ultimate advantage of the corporation. 

 

There's a saying in the creative world: there are no original stories.  So, you've probably heard a similar story before. Yet as you apply this version to your unique alliances, you may find the truth in an old chestnut even more valuable than you expected.

 

As Kliman moves toward wrapping the session, Struttman shares a final piece of information: once it was established that Astellas's AM team is integral to the success of the company, the organization hired Price Waterhouse, to audit the AM team to see how they function. "We have a whole set of guidelines, tools, etc., that Price Waterhouse went through with a fine tooth comb," she says. "We came out with a great rating."

 

"Vantage has seen many client opportunities precipitated by audits," Kliman adds.  "It leads to important questions: Do we have policies and procedures in place?"

 

"So you want more audits..." Hull asks, facetiously, to which Kliman responds:

  

"More audits. More audits. More audits!"  

Tags:  2014 ASAP BioPharma Conference  Andy Hull  Astellas  Center of Excellence  Mary Jo Struttman  Stu Kliman  Takeda  Vantage Partners 

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