strategic alliance magazine | special focus | bioPharma “We have found that more places are doing this with Finance. It’s becoming a trend for companies to have financial professionals specializing in accounting for alliances,” said Jan Twombly, CSAP, president of The Rhythm of Business, who has consulted with Ipsen on its alliance practice for more than two years. “We’re seeing P&Ls created for individual alliances more often now.”
“There is a greater onus on the alliance manager to monitor financial performance before the partner is required to report. The alliance manager has to rely on his or her relationships and knowledge of the alliance partner’s business to understand how changes in their operations will affect its own bottom line.”
More Resources, More Recognition
To keep pace, Ipsen has moved into the next phase of its alliance management practice’s development. Its internal Project IMPACT (Implementing Management Practices for Alliances and Collaborations) initiative aims to educate the rest of the company on the role Alliance Management plays and what it can do for other departments, instill collaboration skills within other employees who engage partners, such as researchers and product managers, advance governance procedures, and tighten up consistency of Ipsen’s approach across alliances.
The significant resources dedicated to Alliance Management illustrate this executive commitment. Ipsen’s leadership has made sure that the company not only staffs up its Alliance Management department, but does so with extreme care given the importance of alliances to the company’s success. “There’s not only this recognition, there’s this encouragement that these are important positions and, boy, you better have the right people in them as opposed to ‘well, this is just a relationship manager, what’s the big deal?’ There’s that real emphasis across the organization—recognition that these are business positions,” said McKercher. It also means greater access to key executives. Ipsen’s alliance professionals and their counterparts at partner companies have “exposure directly to the CEO and our executive committee,” according to McKercher. Another key to Ipsen’s success is a humility that underlies its alliance strategy. McKercher is adamant that Ipsen abstains from “the not-invented-here” arrogance. “We also don’t have the attitude that we’re the only ones who know how to make this work,” he adds. “If we have something but we don’t think we have the people to maximize it, we’ll partner it out and vice versa.” Ipsen currently has a dozen in-licensing and half-dozen out-licensing agreements. Alliances are contributing 40 percent of Ipsen’s revenues today, and analysts are scrutinizing their performance more closely than ever. The company knows there is no going back. “As soon as alliances are a sizeable portion of your business, you simply cannot ignore it,” said Jean. “Alliance management is no longer a technical aspect of business. It’s not only a method to manage certain relationships, it becomes basically your business.” However, Twombly says alliance managers should not wait for analyst scrutiny to start paying attention to partners’ financials. Quarter 2, 2011
Alliance Management by the Book
To these ends, Ipsen’s alliance guidebook remains key. The Alliance Management group has augmented it on an ongoing basis since it was first published and in 2011 it plans on adding a number of tools, including its new partnership planning procedures. In addition, Ipsen is assembling shorter customized versions for other departments that outline the alliance management practice’s core principles. One adaptation is serving as the foundation for a webinar series designed for Ipsen’s Global Regulatory Affairs group. Meanwhile, as partners become more integral to Ipsen’s day-to-day affairs, they will increasingly need access to Ipsen’s senior management, placing a greater premium on streamlined governance procedures. “[We have] to control our partners’ access to our executives; otherwise they skip over lines of communications. That’s where good governance comes in, and we have some good governance systems set up,” said McKercher. Ipsen will have to continually evolve and enhance its alliance management function as partnership success is ultimately the only way the relatively small (by pharmaceutical company standards) $1.6 billion company can successfully compete with the giants in its field. “The issue is we’re not a big company, so you don’t have thousands of people to refer to,” said Jean. “When [alliances] start to become more numerous and also more complex, then you’re probably well advised to at least have the commonality of methodology and other tools to manage that.” n 35
The magazine of the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals