Functional mapping in alliance management relationships

Do all the stakeholders in your alliances know who their counterparts are?
Functional peer mapping can help make it clear to everyone involved.

At the end of our alliance management workshops, one of the questions in the evaluation form is for the attendees to name the one thing that they have learned that will have most positive impact on the partnerships they manage. The elements that are named the most in all evaluations can be summarized as elements that bring structure to relationships.

Relationships are often taken for granted, we expect relationships to run by themselves without really a need for management. But successful relationships are hard work regardless of the type of relationships. Supplier-customer, strategic alliance relationships, even personal relationships, they all demand a lot of attention, communication and work to stay healthy.

There are many tools to support you in managing your strategic relationships and some of them are highlighted in the workshop. One of the first highlighted in the workshop and that always leads to group discussion is the functional mapping or peer to peer mapping tool. In the basics a very simple tool, but the simplicity of the tool once again is a proof point that “less is more”.


The idea behind the functional mapping tool is that you use it to map out the functional relationships between your organization and your partner’s organization. Functional mapping is based on the fact that organizations are different and hence your peer may be on a different organizational level than at first would be expected.

The obvious example to explain this is the example of a partnership between a large multinational and a small local firm. The functional peer of the CEO of the local firm may very well be the General Manager of a business unit in the multinational rather than the CEO of the multinational.

The functional mapping tool will help you to define the day to day interactions and also map escalation paths where peers meet peers to resolve issues or guide strategy for the alliance.

It is highly recommended to do the mapping in the preparation phase, actually before the alliance starts. You don’t want to find out who the right peer is in the middle of a crisis that requires escalation!

You can download a template of the functional peer mapping tool here.