How to bring your alliance organization to the next level?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a simple recipe for alliance success? That thought might have crossed your mind once or twice when in alliances. However, alliances are not that simple. Many of our answers to challenging questions start with “it depends”, as every alliance is different and every organization is different. That is also one of the fascinating aspects of being in alliances. There might be no simple recipe for alliance success; but there are some golden rules you can apply, as described before.

For this time, let’s have a look at the way alliances are organized in your organization. Alliances are not like everyday business. When your organization is serious about the efforts in alliances, there will be some kind of acknowledgment that alliance expertise is needed. Also there is no “one size fits all” model for alliance resourcing: it depends on the size of your organization and the number of alliances your organization has.

Models that work well are often constructed in a way where the central alliance department acts as a center of expertise. These are the people that are the alliance experts in the organization. They guide the business departments in their efforts of creating alliances with outside organizations. Day to day operational alliance management can be part of this department, but it is more practical to locate it in the business unit where the alliance resides. The role of the alliance manager is a full-time job for many larger alliances. For smaller alliances however, we see this role also being performed by someone who already has responsibility for parts of the business that is affected by the alliance. For instance, in product development alliances, the alliance management role can be part of the product manager’s tasks.

It sounds optimal, but also creates a potential field of tension. In general, there is no hierarchical relationship between the central center of expertise and the operational alliance managers. So, how to influence the alliance managers to stay in touch and not to go out on their own? Some organizations will capture this as part of their procedures. Some have a different operating model with a higher independence in the business units, which adds to the challenge. Creating an internal alliance community will help.

How to bring your alliance organization to the next level?

There is no simple recipe for alliance success. The best recipe for your organization is a tailor-made recipe. One that takes the elements as mentioned above into account. Combine that with best practice procedures and tools, adjusted to your organization, and you will be on your way to bring your alliance organization to the next level.


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