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Reset, Relaunch, Rebirth: Rejuvenating a Longtime Alliance to Create Future Value

Posted By Michael J. Burke, Thursday, October 17, 2019

What happens when a more than three-decade-old alliance that has gone through its share of turmoil nears the end of its contractual life? Does it simply wind down in collective exhaustion, ending with a whimper? Does it crash and burn? Or can it somehow rise from the ashes of the past?

            Two European biopharma companies struggled toward the answer to that question, and ended up resetting and relaunching their alliance to mutual benefit. Eric Ferrandis, CA-AM, vice president of strategic alliances at Ipsen, and Fabrice Paradies, director of industrial business development and global commercial alliance at Debiopharm Group, described the process of bringing their two companies’ productive partnership back from the brink and back to life in their presentation, “Partnership Reset and Launch: How to Complete the Past?” at the recently concluded ASAP BioPharma Conference 2019, held Sept. 23–25 in Boston.

            Paris-based Ipsen, a 90-year-old company specializing in oncology, neuroscience, and rare diseases, and the 40-year-old Debiopharm, a drug development company based in Lausanne, Switzerland, had an alliance going back to 1983 that had been very productive for both of them. This 35-year partnership sprang from a series of agreements and amendments for the licensing of Triptorelin—brand name Decapeptyl—a drug used in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer, endometriosis, and breast cancer, among other conditions.

            The DKP alliance, as it was known, created value for both companies, but as Ferrandis and Paradies acknowledged, it also had been set up in such a way as to cause “pain points” that those working on the alliance had never been able to address holistically. So what to do?

            As the alliance agreement neared its end by mid-2018, both companies’ CEOs agreed that a new alliance framework must be put in place, with negotiation leads empowered to get a new contract signed by the end of that year and relaunch the alliance for the long term. Accordingly, by July 2018 the companies hired the consultancy The Rhythm of Business to help get their partnership back on track by identifying the key problems that had hindered its efficient functioning and to assist in rebuilding a common vision for the alliance.

            The initiation of the reset process involved two workshop sessions covering two days and involving personnel from key functions across both companies. Among the key findings that emerged from those sessions:

  • Both Ipsen and Debiopharm still saw a promising future for the DKP alliance.
  • They also felt that the alliance’s current economic model would not unleash the full growth potential of the brand.
  • More indications launched in more territories globally would deliver greater value to both partners.
  •   Greater proactive investment in product innovation and life cycle management was required for continued success and growth.
  • The long-term relationship had laid a solid foundation, but some deep-seated divisions and differences still needed to be overcome.

Armed with these findings, the two companies’ negotiation teams—primarily three people on each side, with support from above and below—set about to restructure the alliance and set it on a better course, by:

  • Aligning financial terms in the new economic model, across all formulations of the product
  • Developing a joint life cycle management plan that fuels appropriate product innovation
  • Strengthen alliance governance to support the more ambitious economic model and operating framework
  • Working hard to build trust and ensure transparent and effective communication

As Ferrandis commented, “Everything is about trust.”

            As the new agreement was being negotiated, it was agreed that the old contract would remain in effect and the status quo of the alliance would continue on both sides. Other key points, according to Ferrandis and Paradies:

  • The need for a reset was agreed on by both companies.
  • There was buy-in by both companies’ senior leaders and leadership teams.
  • The revenue from the DKP alliance was important to both companies, so it was clearly understood that the reset/relaunch effort needed to go deep into both organizations.
  • The negotiation teams included representatives from alliance management, business development, and legal, and had input from a number of other functional areas—as well as critical support from senior leaders.

Both Ferrandis and Paradies admitted that while everyone involved wanted to “move fast” on the reset effort, it was important to lay the groundwork even before negotiations commenced to get the partnership relaunched. “We had to change the mindset” internally, said Paradies. Doing this work ahead of time—and having “the right people in the room,” as Jan Twombly, CSAP, principal of The Rhythm of Business, noted—led to a “new partnership spirit” in the alliance, according to Ferrandis.

            Ferrandis also cited leadership as “the greatest alliance management skill,” adding that behaving as a leader includes going to senior leadership when necessary to get buy-in and help get issues resolved.

            A new agreement was signed in 2018 that provided for 15 additional years of partnership between Ipsen and Debiopharm, featuring a new economic model with better-aligned financial terms, a new R&D framework with cost sharing for codevelopment mechanisms, new governance giving Ipsen final say over development and commercialization and Debiopharm control over manufacturing, and what the copresenters called a “commercial bold ambition.”

And once the new contract was signed, senior company personnel celebrated with a joint dinner in Montreux, Switzerland, on Lac Léman (Lake Geneva). The moral? For the rebirth of a long-running alliance like this one, said Ferrandis, “Don’t forget to celebrate each time you can.”  

Tags:  alignment  alliance management  codevelopmen  Debiopharm Group  Eric Ferrandis  Fabrice Paradies  Ipsen  negotiation  partner  partnership  Partnership Reset ASAP BioPharma Conference  R&D 

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NOT ‘Business as Usual:’ What the BioPharma Channel Can Glean From High Tech

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Monday, October 16, 2017
Updated: Sunday, October 15, 2017

Partnering isn’t “business as usual” anymore. “Even companies that think they have their practices down are all reinventing what they are doing now because they have to deal with … the increasing speed, scale, and scope of partnering that has become exponentially greater,” emphasized Jan Twombly, CSAP, The Rhythm of Business, Inc., during her session “The BioPharma Channel: Leveraging Practices from the High-Tech World to Drive Success.” Twombly was presenting at the 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference, “Accelerating Life Science Collaborations: Better Partnering, Better Outcomes,” held Sept. 13-15 at the Royal Sonesta Boston, Cambridge, Mass.

“The high tech channel has learned that you are not going to be successful if your channel partners aren’t successful. … You need customized partners to provide local market access. High tech needs new partners because it needs vertical and technical specialization. Some companies do this better than others,” she added. For example, Cisco generates 85 percent of revenues by channel partners. That’s exceptional, considering that the industry average is 39 percent.

The channel is a route to market that is accessed either by communication avenues, a direct sale force, or co-commercializing a product with a partner. It’s about delivering on intended value in a resource-friendly way, she added.  Biopharma usually doesn’t consider the channel as key to growth. Yet market growth trends and future projections from BMI Research indicate that unmet patient needs and the significant growth potential of emerging markets provide significant reason for pursuing a channel strategy, Twombly said, while flashing past market size data and future size projections:

2010: $150 billion
2015: $245 billion
2020: $340 billion
2025: $490 billion

High-tech channel partners are not seeking more automation, Twombly observed.  What they are looking for is:

  • More engagement with field engineers and local sales personnel
  • Greater understanding of corporate priorities
  • Joint planning on strategic opportunities
  • Better understanding of their partners’ strategies and plans
  • More proactive communications, support, and relationship management

So what can the biopharma industry learn from high tech’s successes with channel partnering? Twombly asked.

  1. Take a portfolio approach: Place bets carefully, and manage it as a portfolio from low-touch to high-touch.
  2. Carefully manage the transitions, and ensure partner (and stakeholder) readiness.
  3. Maintain robust measurements, reporting, and action from a 360-degree perspective. We are becoming very data driven.
  4. Make it part of the fabric of the organization from end to end: Bake it in, don’t bolt it on. You need to have a strategy, and the partnering needs to be integrated into various functions of your company.

That’s critical to the entire process, she emphasized:  “Baking it in. … We like using a stakeholder management model. In many instances, you will not have dedicated people. You need to understand the economics; have good reporting and data collection that are able to be monitored; focus on closing the gap between current practice and what stakeholders need to profitably support the channel partners. That is how you will demonstrate value,” she advised.

“Governance is sometimes not in place,” she added. “You want simpler governance because of the nature of the relationships, but still need to have executive and operations levels to formal governance. Make sure you have the right participants engaged, set expectations, and have proper alignment and meetings. Make them good, formal meetings, but create an environment people will want to attend. The quarterly business reviews in high tech are typically all one way. If you really want to build that relationship so the partner can help you with market access and driving the business, you need to make it a two-way meeting.”

Consider conducting partner summits, she concluded. In the high tech world, they are a staple for building relationships by helping partners learn what’s new and where company strategies are headed. Summits provide an opportunity to have all your partners together to learn about common challenges.

ASAP Members can learn more about this provocative and well-attended ASAP BioPharma Conference session in the September 2017 issue of eSAM Plus.

Tags:  alignment  ASAP BioPharma Conference  BMI Research  channel partners  channels  governance  high tech  Jan Twombly  partners  portfolio approach  stakeholder  summits  The Rhythm of Business 

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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor—Effectively Employing the Breadth of People in Your Alliance

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, September 7, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, September 6, 2016

To maximize the value of an alliance, it’s important to effectively employ and appreciate the full mix of participantsfrom your sidekick partner to the trainer and sponsor in the background.  That was the focus of the session “People, Process, Culture: Building a Winning Alliance Program” at the 2016 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, “Partnering Everywhere: Expert Leadership for the Eco­system,” at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland. The discussion was led by three individuals who built highly successful collaborative programs from scratch: Joe Havrilla, senior vice president and global head of business development & licensing, Bayer Pharmaceuticals; Gerry Dehkes, CSAP, global cyber ecosystem lead at Booz Allen Hamilton; David Erienborn, CSAP, director of strategic alliances at KPMG. During the session, they spent a considerable amount of time plying the question of how to create a thriving dynamic between your alliance team, partners, and even ex-partners. 

Joe: At the end of the day, the strategy is about people. Microsoft and KPMG are not going to do anything, since they do not exist other than in our heads they are not going to do anything. You only have the beginning of a strategy until you have taken your strategy from the company down to the people. People come into work not to execute a strategy; they come in with their own strategy. So how do I align their strategy to our best interests? In some cases, you also may need to work with the ex-partner.  If you understand ahead of time where you are in conflict with the other company, you can design a way of working together. 

Gerald: Here’s the approach we took, which is the secret sauce of this particular alliance program. Typically an alliance director will talk with partners and service leaders, and then bring in sales people. We realized the benefit of 10-20 alliance managerswith each trying to get to that sales forceand decided to take that part of the organization and organize it around the industry groups. Really position the alliance enablement person, and they would have only one person to go to. We found that to be very effective, those folks became part of the team. They decided strategies, winning alliance-based offers, they would always be there for that industry. That model helped us become successful. It’s that last piece that’s criticalgetting those alliances out to sales-facing people. 

David: It’s important that training people understand what they are trying to accomplish. If you can translate alliances at a company level down into the mind of the educators, and that this whole alliance is to get them to do something, they become aware of the importance of training to do something. It’s important for them to know this is the strategy. How do you set this up so they get visibility and appreciation? You need to make the training people a winner. 

Joe: You need to know the difference between sales and revenue, understand what margin is, and understand that finance people will be called on for estimates. If I include them from the beginning, I am a lot more likely to get their support when I need it. Another group that is important to your alliance are the sponsors. I’m an advocate and agent, but not the sponsor. They can bring resources to bear and spend time on building relationships. The alliance should be one of their top four priorities for their year. They have to be someone who can really step up. There aren’t any sponsor schools, they’ve never been trained to do it. We need to help sponsors understand what their job is, invest time in it, determine who can be a sponsor, and make sure they have the training to do it. 

Gerald: You need to define the elements of value that all the partners are looking for. It’s not a specific part of the agreement or financial transaction, yet it’s a strongly held expectation of the partner. If you don’t clarify that up front, you wind up being surprised. If there was an expectation that was discussed earlier, but you never codified the agreement or the people responsible for executing the agreement, then you have disconnect and conflict. It’s important that somebody is capturing the expectations. The other tool that is helpful upfront is to do a partner fit as part of due diligence. When you start with a rigorous checklist approach on partner resources, decision process, internal policies and procedures, you can mitigate conflicts down the road. 

David: Trust is predictability. I don’t trust my 15 year old to drive a car because I can’t predict. So we do a lot of trust building. As you get more of your people out there dealing with partners, you have to educate them and give them the boundary conditions, not to restrain them, but you want a consistent approach. You want enough leeway to solve problems. You don’t want to inhibit them from creativity, but you want predictability. 

Tags:  agreement  alignment  alliance team  Bayer Pharmaceuticals  CSAP  David Erienborn  Gerry Dehkes  Joe Havrilla  KPMG  sales  sponsors  strategies  strategy  Trust 

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A Partnership to Benefit the Whole: International SOS/Control Risks Aligns Security and Pandemic Planning for First-Rate Emergency Services

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, June 1, 2016

When International SOS and Control Risks joined forces in 2008 to tackle some of the biggest emergencies on the planet, they proved a centuries-old adage:  Two heads are, indeed, better than one. The innovative, highly efficient venture thrived to such a degree that they received ASAP’s Individual Alliance Excellence Award for “excellence in planning, implementation, and results of a single alliance” at the 2016 Global Alliance Summit Alliance Excellence Awards. The March Summit, “Partnering Everywhere: Expert Leadership for the Ecosystem,” was held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland.  

Several days after the awards, International SOS/Control Risks provided a lively session, “Executing in the Field: The Key to a Sustainable Alliance,” which offered a window into the unique partnership. The goal of the alliance was to completely eliminate competition that cropped up when International SOS was solely focused on security planning and Control Risks on pandemic planning. 

The partnership resulted in joint mitigation risk services that provide travel security and medical assistance for clients around the world from regional centers in London, Dubai, Paris, Philadelphia, and Singapore as well as 900 remote sites and clinics. Specialist execution units offer advanced security training, risk forecasting, and emergency support worldwide; assistance centers and regional aviation units provide evacuation services in 150 countries. 

Here are some excerpts from the session about the history and intent of the alliance from Sally Wang, vice president, global alliances & partnerships at International SOS; John Maltby, director, group strategy of alliances at Control Risks; Richard Fenning, CEO of Control Risks (remotely via video). 

Wang: SOS was started in a basement 30 years ago. Now it’s a company of 11,000 people, half of which are medical personnel—1,000 are doctors. Our job is not to tell a company not to travel. Our company is an educator so the client can make the decision. 

Maltby: Control Risks started out 40 years ago in a jail when one of the founders was illegally detained in a Colombian prison. The origins of the company are in kidnapping and negotiations, which eventually evolved into mitigating security risks. Our clients are in complex business environments. 

Wang: SOS put out an ad about nine years ago when we were a medical company building out security. We thought we could do it on our own with 40 people, but we decided to grow it organically with a leading security firm to take it to another level. 

Maltby: Control Risks had a vision for medical security as well as security for ex-patriots, and we viewed SOS as competition in our new turf.  We had clients who were seeking emergency medical support and security planning from the same association, so we looked at partnering options and approached SOS, which had clients looking for a similar combination of services. 

Fenning: The biggest challenge was at the beginning, explaining to clients how this alliance was going to work. A whole series of events tested it, such as the Arab Spring and mobile attacks. There was no room for misalignment. We helped clients with difficult situations around the world, such as an unfortunate accident with three students killed in a bus crash. We immediately deployed an incident management team that pulled together two teams from Bogota and Texas. Another example was in Honduras, which wanted to get a group of people out of the country when six Quebecers were killed on a humanitarian trip. Through the testing process, the alliance was found to be durable and sustainable. 

Wang: The unique design of our alliance is for competing organizations with overlapping pieces as a joint venture in the middle. We decided not to give it its own separate name and identity: It is International SOS/Control Risks. How do you make sure of alignment? Customer feedback, brand strength, measuring business generations. If you don’t have it from both sides, you don’t have an alliance. You need to measure it; you need to look at value. If you were to get sick or have a security crisis, you only use one number, one app. Your security department is aligned. We have strong incentives built in to drive the business for each other. We buy each other’s services. It’s an expectation if not a written requirement. We occasionally work with other firms after having a dialogue with Control Risks first. 

Tags:  alignment  alliance  Control Risks  International SOS  John Maltby  joint venture  mitigation risk services  pandemic planning  Richard Fenning  Sally Wang  security crisis  security training 

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Engaging Peer-to-Peer Roundtable Sessions Become Popular New Central Feature at ASAP Global Alliance Summit

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson & Ana Brown, Monday, March 14, 2016

Fostering opportunities and tools for peer-to-peer learning is one of ASAP’s goals, and that concept was well-integrated into this year’s ASAP Global Alliance Summit with several popular roundtable sessions. The feedback has been positive so far on the two roundtables, which quickly became an active format for sharing at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, Md. 

Following the “ASAP Quick Takes” talks, the first roundtable session provided participants with the choice of 17 valuable, timely topics connected to the broader “ASAP Quick Takes” theme of “Partnering Everywhere: Expert Leadership for the Ecosystem.” Participants chose between 26 different discussion groups facilitated by thought leaders from ASAP’s membership. Topics ranged from “Strategic Alliance Management across the Enterprise” to “Knowing with Whom to Partner Now” to “Quick Take ‘Hot Takes:’ Seeing Around Corners.” Look for an upcoming blog item on the second engaging roundtable session that took place the following day: “Alliances around the World: Cultural Roundtables,” facilitated by Philip Sack, CSAP, ASAP Asia Collaborative Business Community, and co-presented by Guarino Gentil Jr., CA-AM, Merck-Serono; Subhojit Roye, CSAP, Tradeshift; Andrew Yeomans, CSAP, Merck-Serono. 

I randomly selected a group at the ASAP Quick Take Roundtables led by Donna Peek, CSAP, director, partner enablement & operations, global alliances & channels, SAS on “The First 100 Days of an Alliance” and watched a lively, relevant conversation unfold. Peek, who also is ASAP’s vice-chairman of the executive management board, dynamically led the group, drawing out ideas and fostering engaging conversation as the participants ramped up their communications into active sharing. “The train is already barreling down the track and you are trying to adjust and redefine,” she said, while jotting down a checklist of what an alliance manager should be focused on in the first 100 days that looked something like this: 

  • Identify critical stakeholders
  • Identify executive governance
  • Define frameworks
  • Find good fits for the collaborative team
  • Make sure everything is included that needs to be in the contract
  • Clarify strategy and scope
  • Make alignment part of the term sheet process 

This last point, offered by Ana Brown, project manager, strategic alliances, Citrix, so captured participant attention that we thought her idea worth sharing as an example of how helpful and practical these exchanges can be. Brown offered to write up the idea for a larger audience. 

#Termsheetlove: Bringing Back the Term Sheet
By Ana Brown

The use of a term sheet has been a longstanding precursor to any agreement. With busy times, and changing alliance leaders and teams, sometimes such processes are left behind.

If you find yourself having multiple conversations with your internal stakeholders, all at different times, redlining your partner agreement—sometimes for months. Finding yourself thinking, “Oh my gosh, that call was so long ago I can’t remember what the issues with the agreement were in the first place,” then this recommendation is for you.

Bringing back the term sheet with some easy steps will help you: 

  1. Gain alignment with all your internal stakeholders before going into the agreement process.
  2. Cut the lead-time to fully executed agreement more than half (months for some of us)! 

First, work with your legal team to come up with the best term sheet template (and get buy in from your internal stakeholders that the term sheet will answer most, if not all, of the questions they may have on any potential partner agreement).

Next, complete the term sheet after completing your business plan and receiving buy in from your business unit and partner. Alliance leaders fill out the term sheet (deal exec summary and details) and simultaneously circulate it to the internal stakeholders so that they all know.... (Example of stakeholders include: channel operations, revenue recognition, legal, GEO VPs, etc.—anyone who needs to know the deal is coming.)


Alliance leaders then schedule a kickoff call with stakeholders to review the term sheet, receive stakeholders’ approval to the term sheet (email approval is okay), and are then ready to move the deal to agreement and work with legal to execute.

Ta-da! You just made a bunch of friends by creating internal alignment and cutting the lead time to fully executed agreement in half.

#Termsheetlove - spread it forward :)

Tags:  agreement  alignment  Ana Brown  Andrew Yeomans  ASAP Global Alliance Summit  ASAP Quick Takes  collaborative  Donna Peek  frameworks  governance  Guarino Gentil  leadership  Merck-Serono  partnering  peer-to-peer learning  Philip Sack  scope  stakeholders  strategy  Subhojit Roye  term sheet  Tradeshift 

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