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The Rugged Biopharma/Tech Topography—What Alliance Managers Need to Know (Part 2)

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2018

This extremely well-organized session, “Non-traditional Partnerships:  The Changing BioPharma Alliance Landscape and the Implications for the Alliance Professional and Alliance Management Community” held by Stu Kliman and Ben Siddall of Cambridge-based Vantage Partners, started off by outlining the multiple challenges the biopharma industry faces today, many of which are financial. One major solution to those challenges lies in building more relationships across the lifecycle, specifically with tech, the pair pointed out. They described the complex ecosystem of partnerships that are emerging today and how to determine if it’s right for your company to jump into the trend and/or continue to engage in multi-partner collaborations. Also on the docket was a discussion on effective partnering, which requires the capability to make good choices and the ability to execute.

All major biopharma companies are following the route of building a greater partnering base, they explained. Some of the deals are very large—in the hundreds of millions. Some involve very big players that are exploring and investing in the digital health tech space, such as Apple and IBM. Some are much smaller, or combine large and small companies. No matter the size of the companies involved, when entering the field, “You need to be purposeful and execute quickly,” explained Siddall.

And you need to consider “What makes relationships work—what are the leverage points?” added Kliman.  “As we think about this new landscape of partnering, we are already seeing our clients making mistakes.”

One of the really important areas where companies are struggling in this ecosystem is the process of thinking through whether they should be partnering at all. “Should we just have a vendor relationship? What does partnership mean? Through what process are we making that decision? Where does partnering make sense?” said Kliman, ticking off the kinds of questions that naturally emerge.

“To achieve maximum value, biopharmas must select the right partners to address specific needs and manage these relationships in a way that acknowledges these differences,” Kliman emphasizes. It’s very important in the process to consider the differences between pharma and tech, he said, while flashing a slide.

The pharma cycle has:

  • High levels of regulation
  • Very long (five-plus years) “product” development
  • Management and investors familiar with longer development
  • Purposeful and predictable innovation and co-creation
  • Strong functional stakeholders (medical, legal, compliance, finance)
  • Contractual, asset-based alliances with fixed lengths
  • Well-defined commercial negotiation models with “customers” with significant regulation

The tech cycle has:

  • Variability—many markets are not regulated
  • Short to moderate (1-3 years) “product” development
  • Management/investors who tend to expect quick ROI and steady growth
  • Rapid and agile innovation and co-creation
  • Moderate or weak functional stakeholders (legal, compliance, finance)
  • A blend of formal/informal alliances, often with no fixed length
  • Flexible, market-driven customer engagement processes

Also of great importance is the process of thinking through the best possible partner choices and evaluating them according to the meta-criteria of capabilities. Both presenters recommend considering the marketplace and size of the deals and evaluating potential partners from multiple dimensions that go beyond just the financial impact. Vantage recommends doing this with a four-quadrant methodology that analyzes strategic, financial, operational, and relational fits.

“On the back end, we have challenges during execution to consider,” Kliman added. “Pharma and IT are significantly different. If your core expertise is to identify and manage alliance models that manage different partners, that needs to be brought into upstream activities as well.”

“If you are going to enter into this new world, you want to make sure the relationship is purposeful,” Kliman added. A purposeful relationship contains the following criteria, he said. It should be:

  • Purposeful (focused on a well-defined market; meets patient, partner, and company needs)
  • Choiceful (partnership is worth the effort; has the right answer, among other things)
  •  Designed and developed collaboratively (based on a shared vision; focused on joint gain, among other things)
  • Actively managed (with joint oversight; systems reviews; robust metrics)
  • Building over time
  • Assessed

See part one of this session coverage blog and stay tuned for more ASAP Media team coverage from the 2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference. 

Tags:  alliance  Ben Siddall  healthcare landscape  licensing-type alliance groups  partnering  pharma  Stu Kliman  tech  Vantage Partners 

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The Rugged Biopharma/Tech Topography: What Alliance Managers Need to Know (Part 1)

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Business partnering today requires know-how to negotiate nontraditional collaborations for purposes that are different from those of classical business development and licensing (BD&L) alliances. The partnering landscape for biopharma firms is evolving to include a variety of these new kinds of collaborations, according to the session “Non-traditional Partnerships:  The Changing BioPharma Alliance Landscape and the Implications for the Alliance Professional and Alliance Management Community,” led by Stuart Kliman, CA-AM, and Ben Siddall, both of whom are partners at Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Vantage Partners. The two took to the floor at the 2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference to provide key insights on the value and challenges these partnerships bring, especially in the area of biopharma/tech collaborations, which are resulting in very different business models. I had the opportunity to talk with Stu Kliman before the session. Here are some of the insights he provided on this hot topic.

ASAP Media: What is the impetus for your session?

Stuart Kliman: This session is about this ongoing theme of new types of collaborations happening in the healthcare ecosystem. It’s really all about how biopharma and tech are doing more and more together—so new and different kinds of relationships. Those relationships have different purposes. They might differentiate the value proposition of a product or a drug or support outcomes-based deals within the healthcare system. Or they might provide real world evidence and value-based pricing models. This session is about some of the differences between pharma and tech and the different kinds of challenges that organizations need to deal with. About the upstream, how do you start to think about creating these kinds of relationships and the key success factors for doing so? This also raises the question about if and how classic business development and licensing-type alliance groups need to evolve to deal with the changed environment.

We can see from the lineup at this year’s ASAP BioPharma Conference that the biopharma/tech partnering relationship is a very hot topic. How pervasive is the interest on the tech side?

Every tech company that’s out there is trying to figure out how to get into healthcare. It’s this world of FitBit. It’s this whole world of software, hardware, and device companies exploring the healthcare world.

This session is an extension of some of the topics you’ve been discussing and advising on for some time.  What’s different in this session?

There is a lot of focus on understanding the healthcare landscape, defining the problems that the healthcare landscape is creating.  For example, there might be things related to better data, trial efficiency, or the context of a specific therapy, or the need to track value. The first thing you need to do is make sure you have thought through what the different problems are, what capabilities you need to partner with, consider different kinds of players that are out there, and be thinking about the right kind of business model to work with them, and how to design overall relationship around that shared vision.  We will spend more time talking about this notion of problem definition and think through tentative problem types. Does that lead to something that feels like an innovative alliance relationship or a more traditional one?

Stay tuned for more of the ASAP Media team’s coverage of this and other sessions at the 2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference. 

Tags:  alliance  Ben Siddall  healthcare landscape  licensing-type alliance groups  partnering  pharma  Stu Kliman  tech  Vantage Partners 

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Building and Sustaining the Alliance-Enabled Enterprise—Through the Lens of Vantage Partner’s Stu Kliman

Posted By Genevieve Fraser, Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Updated: Monday, February 27, 2017

Building broad-based organizational partnering capabilities that are strongly embedded within and across your firm’s partnerships can be daunting in the face of an increasingly complex web of multi-industry alliances. Take your partnering capabilities to a new level with advice on how to manage just this kind of challenge at the 2017 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Part­nering Enterprise,” Feb. 28-March 2 at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley, San Diego, Calif. USA.

 

Stuart Kliman, CA-AM, a founding partner of Vantage Partners LLC, and co-author of Vantage’s 2015 study, “Transcending Organizational Barriers—A Cross-Industry View of Alliance Management Trends and Challenges,” will build upon this research in his two-hour long workshop, “Building and Sustaining the Alliance-Enabled Enterprise.”  Kliman manages Vantage’s alliance practice area and is a regular speaker and writer on alliance and key supplier relationship management.

 

This year, Kliman will be co-running the workshop with Julie Shirley, executive, strategic alliances for financial services and technology at Equifax, who will share how the concepts highlighted by Kliman have enabled Equifax’s alliance success. Shirley leads a team of alliance partnering specialists that strives to maximize value from Equifax’s partnerships and to institutionalize partnering and alliance management capability at Equifax. Previously, Shirley was deputy general counsel for Equifax.

 

Organizations need to remain agile to effectively engage in key alliances as new technologies appear that can disrupt as well as assist. Alliance managers, in particular, can help enable an enterprise-wide mindset for driving innovation through partnerships to maximize value for all stakeholders. The session promises to be a highly interactive workshop that addresses a range of challenges while exploring both normative and sub-par organizational approaches for partnering. It will also focus on a framework to assess an organization’s partnering capabilities.

 

The creation of a sustainable, “alliance-enabled” enterprise is key to succeed. “If you have an alliance-dependent strategy, then your entire organization, including, of course, your management team, needs to be focused on supporting it,” according to Kliman.

Organizations must shift from their traditional, inwardly focused foundations to embrace externally focused strategic assumptions for winning, and in the process, embed an operating model and culture befitting a world-class partner.


“A framework for assessing your organization’s broad-based partnering capabilities would look at those aspects of an organization that ultimately lead to behaviors and results—such as core assumptions that the organization has about how it wins, organizational design, key processes and tools, explicit and implicit incentives, roles and responsibilities, and skills,” he adds.


The discussion will focus on the difference between organizations that are designed to succeed at external partnering and those that are not. It also will drill down on how the partnering capability of an organization might be designed in a meaningful and impactful way, and the role that alliance management organizations can play to ensure that their companies are truly prepared to execute a partner-dependent strategy.


“Alliance management organizations far too often are focused on the mechanical aspects of making individual alliances work,” Kliman states. “Instead, they need to be more focused on ensuring that the organization itself is designed to support its alliance dependent-strategy, if indeed that is the strategy the organization has.”


The session also will include roundtable discussions and sharing of ideas across the broader group, during which participants can engage with their colleagues to discuss barriers they've experienced to building a true alliance-enabled organization and brainstorm changes necessary to reach that goal.

Tags:  Alliance Management  alliance managers  cross-industry  partnering  strategy  Stu Kliman  Trends and Challenges  Vantage Partners 

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Building Win-Win Partnerships By Challenging and Reordering Your Assumptions

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Monday, May 23, 2016
Updated: Saturday, May 21, 2016

Many organizations struggle with partnership execution because of their flawed assumptions, says Stuart Kliman, CA-AM, partner, alliance practice head at Vantage Partners. They need to replace those limited assumptions with more progressive ones, he emphasized in his session “Winning Through Partnering” at the March 1-4 2016 Global Alliance Summit“Partnering Everywhere: Expert Leadership for the Ecosystem,” held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland. 

“If you think about how organizations are built, where they come from, organizations—even big old ones—start with the founders’ strategic assumptions of how you win. Those assumptions permeate the building of the organization. The strategic assumption of how you win drives your focus, leadership, structure, incentives, tools, skills, and how you ask people to think.  All of this leads to results,” added the Harvard University faculty member, who has led international conflict resolution through CMG (now part of Mercy Corps), and whose session is a spin-off from the Harvard Negotiation Project. Kliman helps clients maximize the value from partnerships through effective conflict management, negotiation, and relationship management

“You can’t bolt an alliance onto an organization that is not built for partnering—trying to execute partnerships in a world that has not been built for partnership execution,” he said. “We see more and more organizations coming to us to solve that problem.” 

He then highlighted the difference between organizations designed to succeed at external partnering and those that are not. “How do you know that an organization has been built with partnering at its core? And how do you create an organization that is built for partnering versus individual alliances?” he asked. Partnering success depends on these critical components, he pointed out: 

  • Organization is not self-centric
  • Mission statement is partner-oriented
  • Executives and senior leadership looks to alliance management in their options
  • Company has a reputation as a partner of choice
  • Website shows partnering and partnering solutions
  • Leadership does not cascade down
  • Completely flexible
  • Right mix of skills and employees doing the partnering
  • Core competencies training

Organizations should analyze the difference between a progressive partnering stance and one with poor assumptions, he told the audience. “You start with an assumption, and you build on that, and then you break it down into component parts,” he instructed. “You can then map how that strategic assumption drives culture, leadership, focus, organizational structure, incentives, processes and tools, mindset, and skills,” he said, while showing a complex deck slide. 

These lead to good or flawed behaviors, such as the attitude “make them come to us” or the de-prioritization of partner meetings, which all lead to bad results, he added.

“You are saying on the one hand that your goal is to be a world-class partnering organization, but your language says something else.” 

While showing a deck slide on a vicious cycle that threatens partnering success, he provided an example of a CEO who was calling the company partners “gap fillers.” The beginning and ending of the cycle was “We will win through out own expertise.” 

When designing the internal organization, ask these questions: “How is this going to work in alliances? How do we structure this to be externally facing or centric?” he advised. “Without collaboration and negotiation skills, we are likely to fail. By comparison, when we start building with creativity and clear communication, and we launch partnerships with a focus on effective execution, we get this,” he said, flashing a slide with a reversal of the problematic cycle to a virtuous one that ends with “Our company is successful given the value and competitive edge that we get from partnering—partners bring their best opportunities to us.” 

“If you think of the mission of the typical alliance organization, there is a mission statement that says ‘Put alliance managers on alliances to ensure individual alliance support.’ The second aspect of the mission is to ensure that the company is the best possible partnering organization it can be and ensure that it’s a partner of choice. Far too often, we in alliance management have not focused in on the second aspect of the mission,” he concluded. “We see this more and more—a key role for alliance management is embedding the partnering capability deep into the organization—because it’s in your mission statement.” 

Tags:  alliance  conflict management  culture  incentives  leadership  negotiation  organizational structure  partnering  partnership execution  relationship management  Stu Kliman  Vantage Partners 

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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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