The pandemic of 2020 delivered structural shocks across nearly all business sectors around the globe. Partnerships, alliances, joint ventures, and teaming arrangements emerged as go-to strategies for business survival across many fronts. Many companies rushed into many of these arrangements without a great deal of preplanning, accountability, or controls in place designed to measure whether these newly formed partnerships were delivering the desired outcomes. This new alliance ecosystem is brand new for many companies as we move forward in 2021. It is critically important for companies to take a step back and review how and if these newly formed partnerships are delivering real value and desired gains which is why the time for a strategic alliance assessment exercise is now.
A fundamental first step question in the strategic alliance assessment exercise for companies to ask is why did we enter into this partnership in the first place? Was it to expand into new markets or global geographies? Was it to acquire skills that were internally lacking? Perhaps it was to reduce some type of perceived risk, enhance other opportunities for scaling, or other reason(s). These are the types of clarifying introspective questions companies need to ask as they embark on their strategic alliance assessment exercise. The inconvenient truth is if these newly formed alliances and partnerships are not managed well, it could not only result in adverse financial returns but it could also upset and cause potentially irreparable harm to the holy grail of most businesses, the brand itself.
Just as everyone should go to the doctor for an annual physical screening each year, it is equally important that companies engage in a similar exercise that will measure the health and vitality of newly formed partnerships and alliances. Strategic alliance partnerships are like marriages, they have to be worked on, nurtured, and sometimes tweaked. Both parties have to be willing to put in the work to make the partnership mutually beneficial and ultimately successful. The good news is the pandemic has opened the door to more companies being receptive to engaging in prospective partnerships and alliances.
The ability to pivot and grow is going to be critical for any partnership to withstand the ultimate test of time. The first step in that assessment process is to examine the initial expectations going into the partnership/alliance and discuss whether or not those expectations have been met to date. This first step cannot and should not be rushed. The next step is to craft a detailed strategic plan with an accompanying set of key performance indicators (KPIs) on how the partnership will potentially move forward continuing to deliver value for both parties. Specific measurables, the KPIs, have to be openly discussed to ensure that both parties are on the same page in terms of the definition of what success should look like. Those KPI’s could include both quantitative and qualitative data on what a successful partnership/alliance should deliver.
There should next be clearly defined roles and responsibilities document drafted which should spell out how both parties are going to contribute to the overall strategic alliance plan of growth and desired success. Next, there should be a clear and comprehensive communications plan in place including what needs to be communicated, to whom, by what medium and how often. Finally, there should be, at a minimum, quarterly check-in points that will measure that sufficient progress is being made toward the goals that were established at the onset of the strategic teaming alliance exercise.
Strategic teaming alliances have become part of the new economy post covid economy. Companies who effectively plan, manage and measure strategic teaming alliances will deliver results that enhance the value of each respective teaming partner and drive collective bottom-line improvements.
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