In a conversation with an alliance executive from a pharma company recently, the exec said to me “We don’t do partner assessment, we’ll just make it work”. His motivation for this remark was that he couldn’t afford to disqualify a partner if some of their skills were a good fit. Sometimes a partner has that unique element that the respective alliance needs and so they just need to try and make the partnership work. In this case, the partner’s fit wasn’t examined in detail, because the alliance only wanted one element, they just thought that if the partner had that element, they’d just make the other elements fit.

Obviously I did not agree with him and neither does the Boston Consulting Group. In one of their recent publications, the authors state: “The most critical factor in the success of an alliance is to choose the right set of partners. […] roughly three-quarters of failed alliances can be attributed to the wrong choice of partners …

Choosing the right set of partners takes time and requires conscious preparation. It is not just looking at the right product set, or certain skills, of course the skills are important too. Additionally you need to assess your partners and get to know them: do a partner assessment It is important to understand where they differ from your company. It is especially those differences that you’ll need to bridge during the lifecycle of the partnership. When you know what the differences are, then you can make the alliance work.

Partner assessment is one of the foundational elements for successful alliances! Therefore Anoop Nathwani and I spend considerable time in our Alliance Masterclass on the partner assessment phase of the alliance lifecycle. 

We’ve updated our Alliance Accelerator Partner Assessment white paper too, download it here and you are taking the first step towards a solid partner assessment!