Tip 11: Build and Maintain Your Alliance Business Plan from Early Stages Onward

So you and your prospective partner have agreed to enter into an alliance and do business together. Now what? What are you going to do together, and how are you going to do it?

These questions will be answered effectively with a business plan. Alliance business or operating plans are the backbone of your partnership. Your alliance’s business plan will drive the execution of the decisions made during your strategic rationale and alliance design. This plan needs to be active – that is, it should serve as the foundation for operational actions rather than a mere static document that, once created, ends up in a (virtual) desk drawer.

The most obvious moment to work on the business plan is usually in the design phase of the alliance. However, it’s even better to start building the plan in the earliest stage of the strategic rationale. You need to capture whatever you’re thinking in that stage of the development and include your thoughts in the business plan as well. Thus, when you and your prospective partner begin working together in the alliance design phase, you can jointly put together your thoughts and notes from these early stages and transform them into the draft plan.

Once the agreements are made, at least on the term sheet level, they will be connected to the earlier plans and drafted out in the roadmap for execution as the alliance business plan. Additionally, during the management phase of the alliance, you will have to evaluate and refresh this business plan, as insights will change as time and the alliance move forward.

Given the breadth and scope that alliances could take, there is not one single template that covers all that should be covered in an alliance business plan. For your own organization, however, it may be beneficial to create a master template that will allow future business plans to be created in a faster mode. Still, do remember that every alliance is different and every alliance may require other specific elements to be in the business plan.

The following list of elements can be used as a checklist to compile your business plan. Not every element will be equally applicable for every alliance. A sales engagement plan, for instance, will be needed for a joint sales partnership but might be less important for an R&D partnership.

  • Strategic Objectives/Imperatives
  • How are you creating value?
  • For what target customer are you creating value?
  • Win/Win/Win Value Proposition
  • Scope and roadmap
  • Value Creation Plan
  • Go-to-Market Plan
  • Sales Engagement Plan
  • Competition and Coopetition
  • Initial Target Accounts
  • Resource Commitments
  • Payment Schedules
  • Schedules and Budgets
  • Project team and accountabilities
  • Executive Sponsors and role
  • Metrics and Measures
  • Expected financial performance/ROI

Your alliance business plan is the roadmap that will show the way your partnership is supposed to take.


I am publishing my ebook “25 tips for successful Partnerships and Alliances” in parts here on my website. Every other week a tip from the book will be shared, in the weeks in between I will publish my regular column. If you prefer to read the tips in the ebook faster rather than wait a full year then click here to purchase your own copy of the book.

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