Depending on the maturity of your alliance function, your mandate to grow your strategic alliance portfolio is likely to come in one of the following variants:
Organic – the number of ongoing projects with another company has grown, and your company wants a more strategic approach to how the relationship is managed to ensure it can capture the best possible value from the collaboration
By operational design – your business development team is constantly identifying and examining possible partner organizations (for example research partners or channel partners)
By strategic design – your own function sources or actively supports the sourcing of new partners by your business lines or by your corporate development function
While not all of your alliances will be created equal, it is unlikely that each alliance is completely unique: your portfolio will likely reflect different types of collaborations. Thus structuring your workflows along types of alliances or along alliance tiers is key to ensure that your scarce resources go to the most deserving relationships.
Irrespective of what alliance portfolio growth means for you, the “why” is your most critical question to answer: why, for this type of collaboration in our alliance portfolio, are we partnering with this type of business?
This means aligning your stakeholders and your partner around the following questions:
What are the principal strategic drivers for the collaboration (sounds simple, yet aligning everyone around the answer often is less simple)
How to dynamically address changes in required outcomes during the life of the collaboration (because these requirements will change over time)
What specific value creation strategies will be deployed for a particular relationship (because the strategies chosen also will have resource implications)
The answers to these questions also will not only answer the “why” in some depth, they also inform the workflows needed to ensure that your team and your organization work together seamlessly to apply these criteria and to move forward only with partners with whom your company can grow in a healthy way.
More information about our 10 Factor Alliance Management framework is available here.