Management of alliances requires a lot of attention and the alliance manager is the conductor who needs to assure that all team members stay in tune and play from the same hymn sheet. Even for an experienced alliance manager, it can be a challenging task to keep it all together. One way to keep the alliance on a steady track is to set up a clear cadence of governance: a series of periodic meetings that enable you to manage the alliance activities in a systematic way.
Even in the best-managed alliances, ad-hoc alliance management is sometimes needed when crises show up unexpectedly and require immediate attention. However, in general, you want to avoid ad-hoc alliance management. Setting up the cadence of governance can be helpful in averting ad-hoc management.
￼When setting up the cadence of governance, you map out who will meet whom, when, and what the topics on the agenda for the regular meetings are. It can be a matrix model as simple as the one I sketched on my notepad. This one is a 3 x 6 matrix; in the rows, you set the regular agenda items and the attendees for the meetings. The most left column contains the ad-hoc contacts, the next one the weekly contacts, then monthly, quarterly and so on.
The model can be adjusted based on the needs of your particular alliance; you can add dates to it, be more specific about agenda items and attendees and add other useful elements to it. Of course, you can also make the layout as fancy as you like. However, do keep functionality in mind: it needs to provide a clear overview that will support the management of the alliance.
In one of the alliances I managed in a large corporation, we used such a model. At first, I had a call with my partner counterpart on a weekly basis to discuss the progress of the overall alliance and its sub-projects. Later on, we moved this status meeting to a bi-weekly call. Our executive sponsors were set to meet twice a year and hence in the matrix we added another column to include the six-month cycle.
The cadence of governance is a very easy to use and practical tool to help you manage your alliances. It is recommended to set up the model early on in the process of designing the alliance governance and to communicate it to the teams. As the alliance matures, the cadence may need to change, as is the case in the example mentioned above.
This article is part of a series of articles extending upon the 25 tips for successful partnerships & alliances article. These 25 tips have been rewritten and published in the eBook “25 tips for successful partnerships & alliances” that can be downloaded for free.