In a recent conversation I was asked how organizations could professionalize their alliance department. In this case it was a large organization with a centralized alliance department. The global director of alliances recognized the alliance managers in his team being different; they are neither the hardcore salespeople, nor the diehard marketers. They know about sales, they know about marketing, yet they are more lobbyists and diplomats than anything else. A future career move for the people in his team could be difficult within the traditional boundaries of his organization, yet he still wanted to provide them with good development options and a clear development path.
The alliance professional requires a set of competencies that can be divided into three main groups. It is also along these three competency areas, that the director of alliances can provide guidance to his team in their personal development:
- The core competencies are the unique alliance management competencies, such as alliance governance, value proposition development, strategic alignment and relationship management. Development in this area will include the professional certification at CA-AM and CSAP level.
- The contextual competencies are important to perform the alliance management function, but are not specific to alliance management. These include competencies such as leadership, communications skills, conflict resolution, project management and financial management. Whereas the core competency development will be alliance specific, the contextual competency development will be in more generic areas. Depending on each of the team member’s experience and skill level, a development path can be set for their personal development.
- The company competencies are specific competencies that are unique to each company. They include the specific market, product and competition knowledge. In general this area will be one of the first that a company will want his employees to develop, if not already present.
With personal development plans for each of these areas, the director of alliances will be able to create a development perspective for his team members. At the same time a long-term value will be created for each of the team members in the company. Alliance managers in general experience a broad range of business aspects in the alliances they develop and manage. Combine that with a good development plan and the future career perspective for an alliance manager may perhaps not be in sales or marketing management, but more in general management.