Strategic alliances and the profession

Strategic alliances is a profession onto itself.  Where the profession lies within corporate or not for profit organizations is an interesting question which was bantered about recently at the global summit of the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals (ASAP).

The strategic alliance profession is growing and ASAP is the leading association in the field.  Their role is to promote the profession and the discipline of alliances, partnerships and channel development.  The profession is relatively recent in the business world and the emergence of executives with titles such as Chief Alliance Officer, Alliance Director or Partner Manager are cropping up more frequently in resumes and professional profiles.all_globe_rgb

What is a strategic alliance professional?  What are their backgrounds and value add to their organizations?

These questions are relevant not only to alliance professionals but to everyone working in collaborative relationships outside their own structure.  The inclusion of alliance professional activities across the C suite functions is quite impressive:

  • Strategy – all leading edge firms in every sector are working on ecosystem development for new creative forms of collaboration
  • Sales & Marketing – sales teams rarely go to market today without integrating their alliance partners and channel strategies
  • Operations – supply chain integration has become so tightly woven that the traditional partner value chain is becoming ‘alliancized’ into a value network
  • Research & Development – sharing of R&D expertise and innovation costs are very common in many industries, notably Life Sciences
  • Support Services – help and assistance in executive deal making across industries, service lines and geographies is a key success factor to optimizing deal flow
  • Office of Finance – compensation strategies and financial reporting are an integral part of strategic alliance relationships
  • Legal – the complexities and international dimension of many alliance agreements require sophisticated contracts and SLA reviews
  • Human Resources – virtual communities of experts are now the norm for engineers, academics and worldwide C suite groups
  • Training & Education departments – learning how to partner in terms of executing collaborative strategies has become a core competency

ASAP provides an excellent platform for alliance professionals to share best practices and grow the profession.  The Association organizes global summits and local chapter meetings, practioner documentation and conferences, certifications and a true trade association framework.

At the heart of the profession and the discipline is good, solid basic business consultants skills:

  • ability to listen, understand and process all the dimensions of the strategic alliance relationship(s)
  • ability to derive value from each of the essential elements across political, technical and business parameters
  • ability and skill and experience in identifying, anticipating obstacles and mitigating risk in real time
  • ability to solve problems and know when and how to escalate issues to keep the alliance vibrant and productive
  • ability to summarize complex configurations with potential value creation, and communicate it
  • ability to grow revenues and capabilities by designing and implementing best-in-class strategic alliances

The real work lies ahead as new ways of working, organizational (re)designs, configurations of new sales models and go-to-market strategies are all in gestation as it relates to strategic alliances and the profession.






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