Ultimately, a great alliance is successful when it begins to achieve the initial milestones it set out to achieve. As initial success sets in, it grows in success, size, scale and spawns in similar future collaboration opportunities.
The success of an alliance is specific to that individual alliance. What is considered a big success for one might only contribute to the success of another. Certain characteristics of the alliance may be less effective, but if the overall outcome achieves success, it is still a successful partnership.
According to ASAP, the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals, there are 10 alliance characteristics that you can use to measure effectiveness and success:
1. Strategic Fit – Are your long-term goals aligned?
2. Synergy – Do you have complementary strengths?
3. Great Chemistry – Do both partners have mutual ability and drive?
4. Reciprocity - Is the alliance fairly apportioned?
5. Transformational Flexibility – Are both partners willing to be flexible and creative?
6. Effective Governance – Do you have effective alliance centric governance processes?
7. Trust and Commitment to Mutual Benefit – Do you have faith that your partner is looking after your best interests and is this reciprocated?
8. Executive Sponsorship – Do you have executive buy-in and engagement in success?
9. Joint Planning – Does your roadmap achieve for both partners?
10. Continuous Innovation – Can your alliance adapt and flex when new opportunities present?
We offer three additional alliance success factors.
Digitization is one. Once an alliance portfolio is managed digitally, both alliance managers and their stakeholders attain greater insights from key performance indicators that are measured consistently across alliances. What today is a manual effort with the usual limitations of timeliness and accuracy, analytics derived digitally don’t require a great deal of effort, gather in real time and provide a snapshot of an alliance’s performance and health, ensuring it is on track for success at a granular level.
Digitizing alliance management operations adds greater security, scalability and accuracy to both the organization’s areas of success and the individual’s contributions to that success.
In addition to the operational advantages, digitizing the routine work of alliance management has allowed alliance managers to focus strategically on higher-value services and provide timely long-term whole-portfolio oversight.
Focussing on alliance management capabilities is another alliance success factor. The Rhythm of Business, expert advisors on alliance management practice, note that alliance management professionals themselves are key to alliance success.
In their whitepaper “Seven Habits of Highly Effective Alliance Professionals Who Deliver Value”, they identify ways in which effective alliance professionals strive for excellence in everything they do, making a significant impact on alliance success.
These habits include:
1. Recognizing risk and adding value to the alliance by proactively managing and monitoring them in conjunction with their alliance counterpart.
2. Identifying all stakeholders, not just the obvious ones, then managing them effectively and ensuring they are engaged throughout the alliance.
3. Successful alliance professionals bridge the gap when differences between partner organizations occur and ensure that projects are carried out and completed as a team.
4. An alliance manager can help to drive success with their ability to understand and interpret insights from all partners, supporting informed decisions on projects and alliances.
5. Problems are going to happen, by keeping a realistic approach to this, a successful alliance manager can proactively recognize when problems are emerging and resolve these before they develop too far.
6. An effective alliance manager drives efficiency and consistency through effective operational excellence. Digitizing operational workflows can simplify this even further.
7. An effective and successful alliance manager will ensure that all areas of their practice are visible and transparent, but importantly, also ensure that successes are published so that it is easy to demonstrate the success and advocate both internally and externally when relevant.
The right culture is a third alliance success factor. In a recent article, Vantage Partners, a global consulting and training firm that helps companies achieve alignment, noted that “the challenge during a new alliance launch is to create a culture that underscores the value of these skills.”
Having the right people with the right skillset, managing an alliance in aligned organizations with similar goals and company culture is a great recipe for success.
Digitizing alliance management operations allows alliance leaders to think strategically and envision how they can structure their alliance management function for sustainable, agile, and efficient growth while responding to current demands in the short term.
Ultimately, it is the unique combination of digital maturity, effective alliance leadership and a strong cultural foundation that will lead to a highly successful alliance.