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Strategic alliances: The beginner’s guide

Article 3: The case for a digital approach to alliance management


In article 1 of our beginner’s guide series, we examined the unique purposes of strategic alliances and in article 2 we reviewed the analytics that matter.  In this article, the final in our 3-part series, we take a look at how digitizing the alliance management process can free up valuable time and unlock resources so that you can concentrate on adding value to your alliance portfolio.

 

The life of an alliance manager is a busy one.  A never-ending flow of emails, a multitude of meetings, both alliance-related and general internal meetings, continual questions from stakeholders and partners, reporting requests… the list could go on and most of it was needed yesterday.

 

The prospect of adding into the mix the implementation of new software might induce anxiety and apprehension, but there are some great reasons to take the leap and invest in fully digitizing the alliance management function.

 

You may currently manage your alliances with a mixture of Excel, SharePoint, and Teams or similar software.  You may also believe that this is a digital approach.


Before we examine the ways in which digitization can support your alliance management function, answer these questions. 

1.     Would your sales teams be effective if they didn’t use software to support their business development activity?  Something like Salesforce, Pipedrive, or Hubspot CRM.

2.     Would your finance team be as successful if they were using Excel spreadsheets to manage multimillion-dollar accounts instead of specialist finance software like Oracle, Sage and Xero?

3.      Would your project managers be as effective as they are if they weren’t using software like Jira, Monday, or Zoho, that supports their everyday needs?


If you have answered no to any of those questions then ask yourself why shouldn’t alliance management – a function that manages interactions with all these functions, plus more and from multiple organizations, receive the same level of investment?

 

Here are 3 ways in which digitization can make a real impact on your day-to-day workload.  Looking at our original description of the daily requirements let’s examine emails, meetings, and reports.

 

1.     Emails

First, let's examine what type of communication is in those emails.

In general, you’ll have 4 types of email.  The first is requests for information from you, the second is the delivery of information to you, the third is related communications, and finally FYI’s. 

If all the information on your alliance portfolio is in a single platform in which your team can allow read-only and/or edit-level access to, stakeholders, colleagues, and even partners can log in and self-serve this information.  In addition, if you are responsible for communicating information, you can set this up to be automated, and you can filter specific data to be included for different recipients.  You can even choose different formats for different recipients and types of data being sent. 

Meeting-related communications could vary from requests for minutes, updates on action points, clarification on steering committee members, and sending/chasing minutes.  If all this information is also held in 1 central hub, it can be accessed independently.

Finally, there are the FYI emails.  With all partners using the hub to log activity, updates, and changes, FYIs can be automated through notifications.

With fewer emails and demand for your input, you can spend your time working on value-adding activities. 


2.     Meetings

Meetings are a significant part of an alliance manager’s daily activity, whether internal, governance-related, steering committee, and all the admin that comes with these.

It can take hours to prepare agendas, file minutes, find past minutes in readiness for meetings, and ensure that all participants have received items ahead of these meetings.  Now multiply this across the entire alliance portfolio and it becomes easy to see how automating these actions and storing documents in the same hub with access for all involved would free up valuable time, add transparency, and ensure all information was available in real-time.


3.     Reports

Alliance professionals report on many aspects of a partnership and as we discovered in article 2, are expected to filter and deliver the relevant information that is important to specific recipients, with various audiences and different goals.  Many of the alliance professionals that we have spoken with report that as fast as they create a report, the contents become outdated and the reports need to be amended, duplicating effort and potentially diminishing trust if incorrect information is relayed to stakeholders.

Many reports are exported from different data sets that then need to be merged and created into a specialist report template that holds all the information from different aspects of the alliance, from various sources. 

A central platform can help to eradicate the need for pulling information together as a purpose-built alliance management platform will all the data and populate reports in real-time as they are called.  They should also be available as scheduled reports or as self-serve data.  A scheduled report that self-populates information as of the date and time it is created. 

 

At allianceboard, we are passionate about a digital approach to alliance management and we could list many more reasons why a team should digitize today.  We hope that you agree: digitizing the alliance management function isn’t just a ‘nice-to-have’ option, it’s an imperative, to give alliance managers the tools they need to be a success and drive the success of their partnerships.

 

Have you enjoyed the beginner’s guide series?  Contact us today if you would like to hear more about allianceboard or set up a demo of the platform; contact@allianceboard.com.


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