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ight from the Start Building a Solid Foundation for Alliance Success Pays Dividends Later By Michael Burke

MOST ALLIANCE MANAGERS AND OTHERS experienced in working with partners have war stories—even horror stories—about alliances that went sour, perhaps “good alliances gone bad.” But what distinguishes successful alliances from those that fail? If there is one single factor, it may be that alliances that succeed do so by getting it right from the start. Failure to Launch? A partnership’s early phases can make or break the entire alliance; it’s where either the foundation for success is laid down or, to mix metaphors, the seeds of its destruction are planted. “There are so many things that can go wrong up front,” said Jeffrey Jewell, CA-AM, director of alliance management at the biopharma company Nycomed. “Internally, if there is not full alignment going into the discussions with the partner, pushing the process forward is problematic in many respects.” Early on, in the negotiations phase, for example, “people may say ‘we’ve got to hit the market in three months,’ and everyone goes wild,” Jewell said. “Communications are not done in a coordinated fashion, and activities begin before there is planning among the partners. They’re initializing the process without planning. More problems occur in that initiation phase when communications go wild with people—they feel they’ve got to get everything done within their department, and they don’t take time to plan the operationalization of the alliance appropriately with the partner.” Good planning, coordinated communications, and a good-faith joint effort between the partners can Quarter 2, 2011

counteract these sometimes market-driven pressures and pave the way for a smoother alliance path. “What I have done most recently is initiate a lockdown on communications until we meet with the partner,” Jewell explained. “The alliance management group can meet and decide what communications are essential immediately, and which ones can wait until the whole process unfolds. Within our organization we have a 100-day plan, which is implemented toward the end of negotiations and contract signing and is designed to guide us through the initial setup of the alliance, establishment of agreed-upon processes, alliance health monitoring, and ultimately alliance termination. It’s a standard process we follow.”

Standard Operating Procedure for Alliances Other organizations follow similar procedures, often including a 100-day plan or timeline. In fact, according to alliance managers and consultants familiar with the alliance process, successful alliances tend to have certain key features in place from the start. These include: A Negotiation/Evaluation phase, in which negotiations occur, and alliance managers and other 9

Profile for ASAP

Strategic Alliance Magazine  

The magazine of the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals

Strategic Alliance Magazine  

The magazine of the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals

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