This article discusses the new digital reality alliance managers are facing and how to digitize your alliance management workflows; it appears in the Q4 2020 edition of the Strategic Alliance Quarterly published by our knowledge partner, the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals (ASAP). Authors are Jan Twombly, President, and Jeff Shuman, Principal, of the alliance management consultancy The Rhythm of Business and allianceboard's Louis Rinfret, Founder and CEO, and Michael Roch, Chief Commercial Officer.
Here are 5 key takeaways from the article:
1. It’s not just about technology
Adjusting to the new digital reality means more than just using conferencing tools or searching through databases, it means we now have a record systems for alliances.
Digitizing alliance management practices helps alliance managers deliver greater value and better communicate that value throughout the organization.
2. A confluence of trends
Biopharmaceutical industry transformations are forcing companies to rethink how they research, develop, and market new treatments and cures bringing to an evolution in the way they make the strategic choice of “build, buy, partner” which is coming down strongly on the side of partnering.
The COVID-19 pandemic brings an urgency to rethink how alliance management is done: it needs to be more agile, iterative and focused on what truly matters. An alliance-centric digital platform is a key component for evolving and scaling alliance management to meet the challenges of a transforming industry and our new workplace reality.
3. Digitalization enhances managers work & value
There’s a common misunderstanding about what digital transformation means. Automation and digitization are not going to replace the alliance manager. The high-value services they provide to their internal and external stakeholders will not be done by computers.
Rather, software takes care of the time-consuming routine and administrative tasks, which liberates alliances managers to do their faster, and more strategically.
In fact, digitizing the routine work of alliance management gives alliance professionals a greater ability to focus on higher-value services, be more proactive and others benefits among with implement consistency of practice and improving the onboarding process for new team members.
With a digital platform, alliance management becomes more agile. Routine processes can be implemented in an efficient, structured, and predictable way and the alliance becomes fully functional faster and more efficiently.
4. Making it all visible, using a common language with shared meaning
Digital reporting allows alliance management leadership to access daily and self-served update on everything that is happening with alliances.
Visibility and transparency in alliances have always been important to create a one-team mentality and develop the “common language with shared meaning” but has become imperative in today pandemic reality, where the flow of information is so critical to keep everyone aligned.
With a digital platform, it is possible to see projects and plans aggregated. This perspective gives alliance management leaders a better overall picture. This same level of reporting can be also granted to the partners in an alliance, making for even more efficient governance meetings, issue resolution, and trust-building.
5. Reimagining alliance management, digitally
When a digital platform becomes the system of record, the way alliance managers do their daily work changes and it requires careful planning, clear communication of expectations and a structured three-phase action plan.
Here is our recommended approach:
Phase 1: Prepare
Create a project team including an alliance manager leading the digitization project, a person responsible for the platform, a representative of both the alliance manager and key stakeholder users.
Decide on a destination and then work back to an initial scope envisioning your future digitized alliance management environment, understanding the current management of the alliances' portfolio and establishing criteria to prioritize where to start.
Align operations to a digital environment planning a few workshops to set consistent practices and definitions.
Phase 2: Get Started
Set clear goals for the initial implementation defining an action plan engaging a small number of alliance managers and stakeholders, working through a period of day-to-day operations and gathering data for further improvement.
Engage with initial users looking for people who are willing to be early adopters, provide honest feedback and champion the digital transformation to others.
Provide training and support early users with easy reference guides, just-in-time resources and a constant communication flow.
Phase 3: Engage and Iterate
Evaluate and refine reporting engaging stakeholders to validate or invalidate assumptions and create the reports they can really use.
Incorporate into governance routines by presenting reports at key meetings will provide the input to evaluate and refine reporting understanding what stakeholders find valuable.
Iterate and plan next steps collecting input from all users and determining how to iterate for the next phase of implementation.
This “new future” of remote work opens to door accelerate the adoption of digital processes, giving greater transparency for alliance stakeholders and freeing-up alliance managers to deliver great outcomes.