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Alliance Management Definitions
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What is a Strategic Alliance?

A strategic alliance is a close and collaborative relationship between two or more entities that share assets, strengths, risks, rewards, and control. Typically, strategic alliances have a broad and long-term impact on corporate performance and valuation. Often, strategic alliances are formed to create a competitive advantage for the partners in their respective markets.

What is the Role of an Alliance Manager?

Many organizations continue to seek ASAP's help with defining the role of the Alliance Manager. While the Art and Science of Alliance Management have continued to evolve and develop over the past 20 + years (approximately the same time since ASAP was created, the role today is often misunderstood and may be under resourced. It may seem strange that many organizations are new to the premise that a Strategic Alliance must be managed. When organizations effectively implement an Alliance Strategy and support that strategy with a culture which embraces an alliance mindset, the role of the Alliance Manager can be an incredibly effective and impactful means to reaching the often critical goals of the alliance.

The role of the Alliance Manager (AM) is unique to the industries it is a part of and often differentiated by practice and process across organizations within the same industry segment. While implementation differences always remain from one entity to another, a unified task for all Alliance Mangers must be the capability of creating success while bringing together two or more unique and often, culturally different entities where risks and performance must be optimized.

Most often the successful Alliance Manager will perform this unique balance within their own organization as well as across entities or partnerships, with little or no position power and a heavy reliance on their ability to influence. To master this depth of knowledge, many Alliance Managers have chosen to become ASAP certified and achieve their Certificate of Achievement in Alliance Management (CA-AM).

If this role sounds a lot like a General Manager minus the position power, most would agree with this assessment. The AM position requires skills developed over many years focused on leadership competencies and managerial capabilities.

Now that we have the beginning of the AM role defined, let's explore a way to take a deeper dive into the characteristics of the AM role. One useful way is to look at the role of the AM is within the ASAP defined "Alliance Life Cycle".

In the ASAP publication, The ASAP Handbook of Alliance Management: A Practioner's Guide, this Alliance Life Cycle is discussed and demonstrated over 275 pages of text and illustrations. (Click the publications button within this link to see more). Throughout this text you'll find many examples of the role of the Alliance manager embedded within this reference guide. In fact, on pages 9-11 of the guide, a summary of the life cycle is defined. Here's a further, summarized version of this important information and some brief thoughts on considerations for the role of the AM within each phase of the cycle.

  • Alliance Strategy, the AM is essential toward facilitating a Strategy with the organization's Sr Management team. The AM works to assure systems and process are in place to support the strategy and assure culture and mindset measures are in place to advance the strategy.
  • Analysis and Selection, post strategy the AM either leads or is an integral part of a team that defines potential partners using tools and best practice to gather data to assist decision making regarding partner identification and due diligence requirements.
  • Build trust and Value Creating Negotiations, due to organization structural or hierarchical precedent, some organizations, at times, may not include the AM in negotiations that eventually become the partnership and are a strong part of legal and contractual obligations. The simple warning here is don't miss this opportunity. Trust is a foundation to success, it's built early and strengthen throughout a partnership lifecycle.
  • Operational Planning, the future of any partnership lies in the depth and effectiveness of the plan. The successful AM must harness, analyze or create the value proposition to address research through forecast and be able to accurately define all planning needs in between. The creation or assurance of performance metrics will assure the partnership is tracked and modified as needed.
  • Alliance Structuring and Governance, Purpose, Outcomes, Goals and Critical success factors must be identified by defined Alliance Governance and supported by Sr. Manage across the alliance. Legal agreement must be balanced by alliance goals. All in a day's work for the successful AM.
  • Launch and Manage, planning a great launch can be inspirational and debilitating, yet without an energized, successful kickoff and follow up launch plan, many alliances will fail. Those alliances that are managed and make use of ASAP best practice as defined in ASAP's 6th State of Alliances will achieve success rates at or equivalent to 70% or better while those who do not will witness alliances failures 60-70% of the time.
  • Transform, Innovate or Exit, at some point the contract and the intent of the alliance may change or fail to reach required outcomes. The AM must assess and predict the need to change. Innovation is at the heart of most successful alliances, many a new business model has been created through successful partnerships and while it is the AM's duty to drive success, the wise AM will understand the time and process to exit an alliance that has failed to reach its planned goals utilizing the most beneficial path to assure future partnership capability.

This list represents a sample and summary of one way to define the Role of the Alliance Manager.

It is our hope at ASAP that anyone interested in the role of the Alliance Managemer becomes an ASAP Member and takes advantage of all of the education and community that ASAP offers!

For more information email us at info@strategic-alliances.org or call +1-781-562-1630