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Pharma Alliance Leaders Making Adjustments to a Virtual, Stay-at-Home World

Posted By Michael J. Burke, Tuesday, April 28, 2020

During the COVID-19 crisis, it’s been heartening to see how many pharmaceutical companies—including a representative number of ASAP members—have stepped up their efforts to work toward vaccines and medicines to treat the virus, including partnering with one another and with government to speed up the processes of research and development, all while trying to keep regular manufacturing and supply operations going so that lifesaving drugs continue to reach patients who need them.

But as is true for all of us, the coronavirus has thrown significant obstacles in pharma companies’ path as well: Almost everyone is working from home, supply chains have been interrupted, sales reps can’t see physicians, and some companies in the biopharma ecosystem are already feeling the pain of financial distress.

So how are pharma alliance management groups coping with COVID? How are their teams communicating internally, reaching out to partners, and moving projects forward in the face of these hurdles?

Different Times, Different Strategies

That was the subject of an April 21 ASAP Netcast Webinar, “Alliance Management Practices in a Virtual World for Pharmaceutical Executives.” The four panelists were among the crème de la crème of big-pharma alliance leaders: Harm-Jan Borgeld, CSAP, PhD, MBA, vice president and head of alliance management for Merck Healthcare KGaA; Mark Coflin, CSAP, MBA, vice president and head of global alliance management at Takeda; David Thompson, CSAP, chief alliance officer at Eli Lilly and Company; and Steve Twait, CSAP, vice president of alliance and integration management at AstraZeneca. The webinar was moderated by Michael Leonetti, CSAP, president and CEO of ASAP.

As Leonetti noted at the outset, “We are in very different times, and different times require different strategies.” Accordingly, the four alliance leaders shared their strategies and thinking in a number of areas, from keeping their teams humming along internally to communicating with partners to monitoring supply chain and manufacturing issues.

Thompson observed that we’re currently living through a “worldwide inflection point,” a phenomenon not seen “since probably the 1930s and ’40s, where the entire world is experiencing something at the same time.” Twait concurred: “This is my 20th year in the alliance management space and I can say I have never seen anything quite like this before. COVID-19 is providing us with challenges I don’t think any of us ever anticipated.”

Buddies, Backups, and Break Times

Borgeld said one of the first things he and his colleagues at Merck in Germany did was to look at what would happen if alliance managers could not fulfill their duties, for whatever reason. So they created “a buddy system, where every alliance manager has a backup—even me. A member of the leadership team is my backup in case I would not be able to function. Also the partners have been informed of this backup system, so they know there’s always someone to contact.”

In this new world, alliance executives and their teams have had to figure out how to hold internal meetings virtually—and how often and for how long—how to carry out alliance governance, and how to interface with partners when everyone is working remotely and none of these activities can be done in person. Some of what they’ve done has changed over time already—going from two meetings a week down to one, for example, having shorter meetings, or making the meetings last only 45 minutes instead of an hour, both to give people a much-needed break that they might have formerly used to walk down the hall and “grab a cup of coffee,” as Twait put it, but also to allow for some “unstructured chat” time, in Thompson’s words.

In addition, half-day or full-day meetings across multiple time zones around the world have in many cases been condensed down to one- or two-hour videoconferences, which allows greater focus and prevents “virtual meeting burnout” while being “respectful of time zones,” as Coflin phrased it—especially important when partners and/or team members may be spread out across the globe.

There’s good and bad in this virtual situation, according to Thompson. “The upside of course is there’s a time savings, the downside is you’re not getting that human interaction,” he said. “You have to be more cognizant of how you’re going to structure your agendas for the meeting to get the most out of it.” Another positive that Twait has observed is that videoconferences today give us a window into each other’s lives—including children, pets, decorations in home offices or other rooms—and these help to build “interpersonal trust” in a way that wasn’t necessarily done pre-COVID.

Borgeld emphasized that while some of the same problems and issues arose before the virus took hold, now it’s even more critical to anticipate and address them, whether it’s coworkers who are trying to multitask and get work done while managing children at home, or partners who may be experiencing financial distress. In the latter case, he recommended, “Seek the dialogue early—it’s not important that you open the books. Focus on the alliance itself: what do we need to do? Come early, discuss it, and try to find a solution.”

Problems, Solutions, and Opportunities

Solutions can be hard to come by, especially where coronavirus is concerned, but more than one of the panelists mentioned the resourceful, flexible cooperation and collaboration between various biopharma organizations, leading to more partnerships and, hopefully, effective treatments and vaccines down the road.

“One of the things that’s very encouraging is the number of partnerships that are springing up all over,” said Twait. “Not just between pharma and pharma—we’re all working together, and many of those interests are around COVID. I’m seeing pharma to biotech, pharma to academia, pharma and others to nonprofits—partnerships of all types.”

Coflin backed up that assessment: “In this current environment where we’re looking for solutions on an urgent basis for humanity, there’s a lot of external innovations and partnerships that are rapidly forming, amongst companies, together with regulatory authorities, NIH, you name it. Everybody’s pulling together to find some solutions.”

Twait emphasized viewing the crisis as a chance to potentially change how things are being done for the better. “I try to look for the opportunities that are coming out of this, and it feels like now is the perfect time,” he explained. “What COVID is allowing us to do is to ask the question: Can we move faster, and are there ways to accelerate? It’s a great opportunity to use this burning platform and the urgency that we have to really challenge inefficiencies and change some of those internal and external processes.”

Shining Examples

Thompson advised looking at alliances with an eye toward contractual obligations, as well as the risks that may be triggered if those are left unfulfilled. “I would really recommend to everybody,” he said, “to do a thorough read of each contract: to go back through and with the lens of the business, human, and legal uncertainties and risks, foresee what’s in the contract, identify and begin to engage with the partners in a discussion now. To me that has been one of the most helpful exercises we’ve done, and also has allowed us to engage in productive discussions, because we’re identifying early the things that the contracts are pointing to. Regardless if you’re in or out of our industry, anybody who’s got a contractual relationship with anybody, that is worth doing.”

Coflin also mentioned being aware of potential supply issues, which can be dicey at a time like this. “The supply continuity is critical to the patient,” he acknowledged. “These are lifesaving medicines in some cases. So we look very carefully at the supply chain, and have since the very beginning of COVID-19, looking not only at the current inventory but also…where it’s sourced from—in some cases China, [or] Italy, and others where we’ve run into a very challenging situation with logistics. The amount of flights is less than it used to be, including cargo, so it is something that requires constant evaluation of risk and constant discussion with our partners.”

Asked for final thoughts, Borgeld gave this exhortation: “Focus on your team. Make [it] so that they can shine in this difficult environment. It’s an environment where there are challenges, and that has to be recognized. Focus on the team, make sure that the team feels that [its] needs are addressed.”

After the four panelists had answered a number of questions, both from Leonetti and the large audience sitting in on the webinar, Leonetti thanked them for sharing their insights and experiences. “You are a shining example of our community, our willingness to collaborate with each other, and our willingness to help share best practices that ultimately make us better partners and better future partners,” he said. “I can’t thank you all enough for bringing this forward and helping to keep our ASAP community alive during these virtual times.”

Tags:  academia  Alliance Leaders  alliance manager  AstraZeneca  best practices  biotech  COVID-19  David Thompson  Eli Lilly and Company  Harm-Jan Borgeld  manufacturing  Mark Coflin  Merck Healthcare KGaA  partnerships  Pharma  Pharmaceutical Executives  Steve Twait  supply chain  Takeda  virtual 

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The Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals (ASAP) and allianceboard partner to elevate alliance management through technology

Posted By Kimberly Miller, Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Alliance technology has become an imperative for alliance professionals – ASAP and allianceboard are teaming-up to combine resources, best practices, and technology to support ever-evolving collaboration models.

This month, ASAP and allianceboard announced a technology and knowledge partnership that will combine ASAP resources and best practices with allianceboard’s purpose-built alliance management software solution.

The partnership between ASAP and allianceboard will create value in:

  • Offering special subscription packages for ASAP biopharma member organizations
  • Providing ASAP membership benefits to allianceboard clients
  • Integrating ASAP resources and best practices into the allianceboard platform
  • Jointly developing resources for the benefit of the alliance management community

“Our partnership with allianceboard supports ASAP’s mission to elevate the alliance management profession and to amplify its impact.  This enables ASAP to extend our resources through the allianceboard digital platform to our biopharma members and to provide these benefits to an even broader audience. allianceboard was designed from the ground-up around the needs of alliance management so this is a natural fit for our biopharma members,” said Mike Leonetti, President and CEO of ASAP.

“ASAP’s thought leadership in alliance management combined with their extensive resources have had a tremendous impact on the evolution of alliance management over the past two decades. Our clients globally recognize how much our solution, built around best practices, has become a game changer for them. We are excited to join forces with ASAP in our common mission to support organizations in achieving their growth and innovation goals through strategic alliances,” said Louis Rinfret, founder and CEO of allianceboard.

Benefits for ASAP members and allianceboard clients https://www.allianceboard.com/asap-allianceboard-partnership

ASAP membership overview

https://www.strategic-alliances.org/page/membership

allianceboard overview

https://www.allianceboard.com

About ASAP

The Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals (ASAP) is the leading global professional association dedicated to the formation, implementation, and transformation of alliances, collaborations and business partnerships. ASAP provides its members forums for networking and professional development along with access to tools and resources, while working to elevate and promote the discipline of alliance management. Founded in 1998, ASAP is a non-profit global professional membership organization with over 2,250 members representing over 35 countries across the globe. Membership represents a cross-sector of industries including high tech, biopharma, finance, insurance, and retail to name a few.

About allianceboard

allianceboard is a purpose-built, easy-to-use alliance management platform for alliance professionals. allianceboard has been developed to give alliance managers a state-of-the-art tool that’s simple and scalable – to stay on top of it all, show organizational impact and easily collaborate with partners for innovation and growth.

Tags:  alliance  alliance managers  Allianceboard  best practices  management platform  partnership  resources  tools 

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Leaders ‘in a Time of Rapid Growth and Change’: Finalists for Announced for 2019 ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards

Posted By Noel B. Richards, Friday, February 15, 2019

Finalists Include Alcon Laboratories, Science Applications International Corporation, Keryx Biopharmaceuticals (subsidiary of Akebia Therapeutics), Thermo Fisher Scientific, Merck & Co., Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cambridge Assessment English, Novartis, Incyte, Sanofi Pasteur, and Red Hat 

ASAP will honor companies and organizations, practices, and programs that exemplify exceptional performance in alliance management during the ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards ceremony at the 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, which runs March 11-13 at the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This month, ASAP announced the companies that are 2019 Alliance Excellence Awards finalists: Alcon Laboratories, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), Keryx Biopharmaceuticals (now a subsidiary of Akebia Therapeutics), Thermo Fisher Scientific, Merck & Co., Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cambridge Assessment English, Novartis, Incyte, Sanofi Pasteur, and Red Hat. See the official press release issued via PRWeb.

“This remarkable group of companies has demonstrated significant leadership in alliance management during a time of rapid growth and change for business—and for the partnering profession,” said Michael Leonetti, president & CEO of ASAP. “Our awards committee reviewed a number of outstanding nominees from diverse industries this year, and we’re pleased to recognize these exceptional partners and programs whose success stories and practices can serve as models for the alliance management community.”

Alcon Laboratories’ alliance program contains a complete set of fully documented best practices supported by information technology tools. With a small alliance group, they manage many partners through consistency applying these practices and tools.

 

Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) has developed an alliance program covers not only the “hard” alliance elements, but also pays attention to the “softer” rules of the game, resulting in substantial contribution to revenues as well as recognition from partners. Partner tiering is consistently worked out across the strategic, financial, and relational elements of business.

 

Keryx Biopharmaceuticals (now a subsidiary of Akebia Therapeutics) and Thermo Fisher Scientific collaborated to resolve supply constraints to ensure that patients were able to access Keryx’s proprietary drug through agility and excellent teamwork at all levels of operation.

 

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany–Bristol-Myers Squibb’s alliance has operated with financial transparency and consistent best practices since its formation in China in the 1990s, a time when the Chinese market was much less accessible.

 

Novartis–Incyte’s decade-long collaboration covers the co-marketing and co-development of an oncology drug in split geographical areas. The alliance has applied best practices across the alliance lifecycle, and led the way for a foundation for a broader alliance mindset in the respective organizations.


Merck & Co. and Sanofi Pasteur built a joint venture for a new drug utilizing a governance model inspired by small, nimble biotech companies to ensure speed and flexibility. The commercialization phase of the new drug so far is very successful.

 

Red Hat completely revamped an alliance training program for its alliance and channel managers, providing a clear learning path for everyone with several checkpoints and feedback options that support managers in their learning. The alliance program has leveraged e-learning and digitization, supported by well-designed management processes.

Cambridge Assessment English teamed up with Future Learn and Crisis Classroom to deliver an online training program for volunteers who help refugees meet refugee needs by focusing on language support. Volunteers (8,000 thus far have signed up) are able to exchange their experience in addition to accessing formal learning modules.

 

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany developed its Joint Committee Self-Assessment tool after alliance surveys showed that decision-making in the organization’s alliances were too slow. This easily implemented tool helps committees improve their decision making has become standard in the Merck alliance toolkit.

Read the complete press release on PRWeb at http://www.prweb.com/releases/finalists_for_announced_for_2019_asap_alliance_excellence_awards/prweb16099885.htm. Stay tuned for much more coverage of the 2019 finalists and the stories behind their successes on this blog and in Strategic Alliance Quarterly and Monthly magazines.

Tags:  Akebia  Alcon  alliance  ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards  best practices  Bristol-Myers Squibb  Cambridge Assessment English  governance  Incyte  Keryx Biopharmaceuticals  Merck & Co.  Merck KGaA  Novartis  Red Hat  Sanofi Pasteur  Science Applications International Corporation  Thermo Fisher Scientific  toolkit 

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Q1 2018 Strategic Alliance Magazine: The Changing Face of Data Security in Multi-partnering; Insights from Genpact’s Donna Peek; Global Alliance Summit Preview; Happy 20th, ASAP!

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Monday, March 12, 2018
Updated: Saturday, March 10, 2018

Is your company risking underinvestment in data security during a time of major digital transformation? That’s one of the big questions posed in the 2018 Q1 Strategic Alliance Magazine, which is packed with information on emerging security trends that impact today’s evolving multi-industry, multi-partnering ecosystem. “The amount of digital disruption that is occurring—whether in IoT sensors, new business models, the amount of data being produced every day, and the introduction of the cryp­tocurrencies—is creating unlimited opportunities for threat factors … that bad actors can attack,” remarks Steve Benvenuto, senior director in the global security part­ner sales organization at Cisco Systems.

Adding to that challenge: “At the current churn rate, about half of all S&P 500 companies will be replaced over the next ten years,” according to Innosight management consulting company. Risking a security breach in the present climate could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The package of articles provides insights on implementing and maintaining secure systems, especially in light of evolving multi-industry, multi-partnering business models. Citing the US government’s 2017 release of its first “Guidelines and Practices for Multi-Party Vulnerability Coordination and Disclosure,” the articles delve into a range of related cutting-edge topics:

  • Evolving blockchain technology, a promising new framework for supply chain security
  • Case studies on innovative new supply chain models in the pharmaceutical, automotive, shipping, food, and other industries, as explained by NetApp’s Ron Long, CSAP
  •  “Digital Transformation > Changing Business Models > the Impact on Security in Partnering,” what alliance managers need to know to stay abreast of the change, through the eyes of Philip Sack, CSAP, of CollaboRare & the Digital Leadership Institute
  • A behavioral scientist’s perspective on why CEO and company leaders tend to underinvest in security
  • Ideas for onboarding company culture and security protocols for an easy transition on the digital transformation wave

Companies need to carpe diem in this unprecedented, fast-evolving era of digital transformation, adds Donna Peek, CSAP, vice president of global alliances at Genpact, in this issue’s Member Spotlight. “Alliances have never been more strategic and collaboration skills never more vital to corporate success,” says Peek, a highly experienced alliance manager and member of the ASAP Board of Directors. She then provides readers with best practices and solid guideposts necessary for maneuvering today’s obstacle course of disruptions and digital transformation drivers.

The security package is not the only highlight of this issue: 2018 is ASAP’s 20th anniversary since its creation in 1998, a notable milestone that shows the foresight of its founders and value of its mission. Personal accounts and insights into the association’s evolution are provided by ASAP’s President and CEO Michael Leonetti, CSAP, as well as early thought leaders Robert Porter Lynch, CSAP, and Ard-Pieter de Man, CSAP. “[D]espite the indelible mark we’ve made in business—al­liance management is an essential function and capability in a wide array of leading companies and industries—we still need to roll up our sleeves today with the same bold­ness and vision that our founders had two decades ago. This is a call to action to all of you who are a part of this remarkable journey,” writes Leonetti in his Up Front column.

This issue then provides a synopsis of what’s to come at the 2018 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, “Propelling Partnering for the On-Demand World: New Perspectives + Prov­en Practices for Collaborative Business,” to be held March 26-28 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. After providing perspective on the first Summit in 1999, during an era of boom boxes and floppy disks, the articles gives readers agenda highlights, previews of four plenary talks, workshop information, and a who’s who of finalists for the 2018 ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards

Tags:  alliance managers  Best Practices  blockchain  breach  collaboration  data security  digital transformation  Donna Peek  Genpact  IoT  multi-industry  multi-partnerhing  NetApp  Phil Sack  Ron Long  Strategic Alliance Magazine  supply chain 

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Tiffani Bova, Global Customer Growth & Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce, Joins the ASAP Advisory Board

Posted By John W. DeWitt and Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Saleforce evangelist and former Gartner analyst Tiffani Bova has quickly become a familiar face in the ASAP community over the past year, presenting two well-received talks at ASAP events—first, at the March 2017 Summit in San Diego, and again in June, when Bova helped to kick off the inaugural 2017 ASAP Tech Partner Forum in Silicon Valley.

On Feb. 2, ASAP officially announced (see http://www.prweb.com/releases/2018/02/prweb15161458.htm) that Tiffani Bova, global customer growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce, has joined ASAP’s global advisory board. As a high-tech industry thought leader, Bova watches overall market trends to uncover best practices on how to improve sales performance and enhance the overall customer experience.

“We are thrilled to have Tiffani as a board member. She has already made a significant impact by presenting in 2017 at two of ASAP’s four signature events, the ASAP Global Alliance Summit and the ASAP Tech Partner Forum,” said Michael Leonetti, CSAP, president and CEO of ASAP.

Bova is a respected former Gartner analyst and popular keynoter. In her talks at both 2017 ASAP events, Bova addressing ways companies of all sizes can create new business practices that leverage technology to strengthen collaboration with customers and partners and accelerate sales and growth. She challenged the audience to recognize how in the business-to-business world, “customer and partner expectations are changing” thanks to technologies that were previously considered relevant only in the business-to-consumer world. 

See the official ASAP press release at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2018/02/prweb15161458.htm. To learn more about Salesforce and how the company empowers companies to connect with their customers, visit www.salesforce.com.

Tags:  accelerate sales and growth  best practices  business-to-consumer  collaboration  Gartner  Salesforce  Tiffani Bova 

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