“How do you define alliance success?”

It seems like such a simple question. Doesn’t it? It is a question that always leads to a lively discussion in the Alliance Masterclasses. Success can mean different things to different people. With that in mind, the question is suddenly not so simple anymore.

Whatever your definition of Alliance success is, there are always some steps you can take that will help to create, or improve success. So, let’s have a look at another question:

“What are the steps every Alliance Manager needs to take to improve Alliance success?”

Here are seven essential steps for improvement, that can help you at different moments during your alliance journey:
  1. Working with the right partner is critical to the success of your alliance. Partner selection is a process that will have to be done at the start of an alliance and that sometimes needs to be repeated in order to to understand your partner better as you move forward.
  2. It is imperative to understand and align with each other’s expectations. Creating a Needs & Contributions matrix together will be helpful in the process. As circumstances change, repeating this process during the alliance lifetime will help you to stay aligned.
  3. Be clear about the value proposition you are working on and what value is delivered to each of the three parties: your customer, your partner and you. Like with the elements mentioned above, also the value proposition needs to be redefined or refined as the alliance matures and knowledge about each other and the market you are serving improves.
  4. Ensure a proper agreement on how you will be working together: define a set of standard operating principles for the alliance.
  5. Create and maintain a proper governance structure. Design the governance structure for continuity, with clear roles and responsibilities, and an effective meeting structure and crystal clear communication.
  6. Alliance launch: start the alliance with all stakeholders on board. Create a 100-day plan that contains all actions for the first period of the alliance. Remember that a transformation or change of the alliance structure might ask for a new alliance launch as well.  
  7. Perform a regular health check to assess your alliance progress. Remember that a health check without an action plan for improvement is useless. When you don’t have time for the health check, then consider looking for an independent health check.   

This is not an all-inclusive list for improved alliance success. Other tools might be applicable to your alliances, it all depends on the particular situation of your alliance. These seven elements, however, are common elements that are applicable to every alliance, also to yours!