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Q2 Strategic Alliance Quarterly Examines How Alliance Teams Are Handling COVID-19 | ASAP Members Discuss What Is and Isn’t Working in Self-Isolation in Latest Cover Story

Posted By Jon Lavietes, Monday, May 11, 2020

When COVID-19 forced us here in the United States into self-isolation in mid-March, we at ASAP’s editorial operation were finalizing our pre-planned in-depth features for the Q2 2020 edition of Strategic Alliance Quarterly, due to hit ASAP member mailboxes in May. Were we to wait until the Q3 issue to tackle the effect the coronavirus is having on alliance members, their teams, and the partnerships they steer, our readership wouldn’t have been able to see how their peers are coping with this situation until September, by which time we hope it will be old news to at least some degree—and, fingers crossed, that it will be safe to relax some of the current restrictions.

To use an American football metaphor, we had to call an audible with the play clock running down if we were to address the most pressing issue facing all of us in due time. In early April, we dispatched a message to alliance leaders asking the following questions:

  1. What are some job functions/tasks in managing staff or partnerships that used to be in-person which you are having to modify or change?
  2. Are there things you simply cannot do, have had to postpone, or had to figure out another way to make happen, e.g., launch meetings?
  3. How are you managing your team? Are there some new tools or modifications of existing ones that your team is working with now?
  4. How are you employing best practices to advance your alliance goals remotely? To ensure ongoing governance?
  5. Are there elements of what you’re doing or of business and work in general that you think may change even after the current crisis recedes?
  6. Looking back now, are there processes that you wish you had in place that would have made what you are doing now easier?

The responses we received via email and follow-up phone conversations revealed an alliance community coping as best they can, finding silver linings, and making the best of the tools at their disposal and a situation they can’t control. To be sure, there were struggles, challenges, and obstacles that may not be overcome until we have fully conquered this pandemic, but by and large, alliance professionals are soldiering through upheaval and uncertainty in a way only they know how.

Unique IP: The Vital Organ Helping Alliances Survive

Laura Fletcher, associate director of strategic alliances at Cancer Research UK, was one of those who recounted to us how social distancing measures have reaffirmed some of Cancer Research UK’s alliances’ indelible strengths. 

“We have access to intellectual property of leading academics through the relationships that Cancer Research UK has as a grant funder, so the model of bringing multiple academic collaborators together with a commercial partner is not very easily replicated,” she said. “That also means that if the partnerships you build are unique, they can’t be easily replicated with another partner. So that gives us a good foundation for working through this with our alliance partners. We all have the motivation to get through it and continue these alliances on the other side.”

Governance: A Beacon Keeping Alliances on Course Through the Fog

Fletcher’s colleague Elaine Anderson, CSAP, strategic alliance executive for Cancer Research UK’s commercial partnerships, noted how careful thought and planning put into the creation of governance clauses long before COVID-19 ravaged the globe has created a framework that has helped organize critical partnerships and keep them from veering off course.

“If there are decisions to be made, then the decision-making process is clear and everyone understands,” she explained. “Fortunately, when we’ve looked back, we have all those clauses and that has proven to be something useful —just to be very clear on the processes that need to be followed but also to have flexibility, not being very rigid, if things need to be changed.”

These insights from Fletcher and Anderson didn’t make the 3,400-word print-edition feature that ASAP members will enjoy this month—as has been our custom since the founding of ASAP’s editorial operation, we like to give you teasers of what’s to come in our quarterly issue. In our forthcoming cover story, readers will discover:

  • Which elements of the current virtual workplace setup some members feel will become a permanent part of our work culture when this pandemic is in the rearview mirror,
  •  Best guesses at when we might return to some semblance of normal,
  • How teams are recreating the social element that has been lost since we were forbidden to meet with colleagues in person,
  • What alliance work has carried on during the shelter-in-place period, and
  • The initiatives that had to be tabled indefinitely thanks to these drastic public-health protection measures.

After all, we at ASAP’s editorial arm are shifting on the fly like you are, but we too are finding ways to use the latest technological tools to keep bringing you the knowledge you need to stay ahead in your career. We hope our Q2 cover story “Partnering in a Pandemic” provides wisdom, information, and some comfort to help you, too, make it through these unprecedented circumstances. 

Tags:  alliances  Cancer Research UK  commercial partnerships  COVID-19  Elaine Anderson  governance  Laura Fletcher  Partnering  partnerships  strategic alliance  unique IP 

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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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