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 About Alliance Management


Alliance management is a business management specialty that cuts across business functions and orchestrates close and collaborative relationships between two or more entities that share assets, strengths, risks, rewards, and control. It includes policies, practices, processes, behaviors, and tools through which an organization realizes value and manages risk from its alliances and other business collaborations.

Why Companies Enter into Alliances

Companies ally with other companies to create greater value than they could on their own. Alliances allow companies to do something they otherwise couldn’t do or to do it faster or more economically. For example, in life sciences drug developers partner with biotech companies and academic researchers to gain access to promising molecules and technologies. The biotech gets the financial resources to help it grow and they also get the drug developer’s clinical, regulatory, and commercial expertise and resources.

Alliances and partnerships of all forms are a central component of almost every company’s growth strategy. Some organizations view themselves as part of, perhaps orchestrating, one or more ecosystems of partners that come together to innovate and drive outcomes for customers. Using the specialized mindset, skillset, and toolset that inform alliance management frameworks, practices, and processes is how companies succeed in their partnering efforts.

Role of the Alliance Manager

The Alliance Manager
Most simply, alliance managers facilitate the collaboration between the companies in an alliance so that each can realize their shared objective and individual reasons for partnering. They work across all of the functions involved in the alliance, providing a holistic view to key stakeholders.

Alliance managers are generally at a director level and above in corporate hierarchy and have a comprehensive understanding of their business, partners, and the industry. Most importantly, they have a mindset that is inclusive, believing that greater value is created when all parties benefit. They have high emotional intelligence coupled with business smarts.

Alliance managers can come from any function. In life sciences, they often take a path through the research lab, project/program management, or business development. Alliance management can be a career or it can be an important stop in building the broad experience needed to become a senior executive.

It is a very rewarding role, as practically no one other than the CEO has a perspective as holistic as an alliance manager. It is also a very challenging role to align the strategies, structures, cultures, and ways of working of two or more entities around a common purpose.

Value of Alliance Management

When companies enter into an alliance, a certain level and type of value creation is expected. Alliance managers work to preserve and enhance the intended value and manage risks that can erode it. The greatest risk to value is delays that come about when partners can’t align on actions, bridge differences, make decisions, or solve problems. Delays allow the lifetime value of intellectual property to slip away and give competitors an opening to take market share.

The value of alliance management is to manage the cost of time. It is measured in the actions taken that preserve and enhance the value of the alliance, that manage risk, and that improves the effectiveness of the alliance.

Characteristics of Successful Alliances

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