In a recent ASAP France webinar (in French), Applying Alliance Management Best Practices to Strategic Accounts, Denis de Carville of Xerox discusses alliance management best practices and how they can be applied to handling strategic accounts. The webinar focuses on Xerox’s alliance with an IT provider, demonstrating how by joining forces they successfully took on the telecom market. As their experience shows, alliances are a critical tool for breaking into new, unfamiliar markets. Read on to learn more about alliance management best practices.

Choosing the right partner

Choosing the right partner is the first step in forming a profitable alliance. Though finding the right partner sounds obvious, it is more complicated than it seems. The organization must first clearly identify the market, client, solution, etc. it wants to target, and then look for suitable partners. The best partners have complementary competencies, bringing their distinct capabilities and strengths to the table.

In Xerox’s case, they saw that more and more telecom companies were transforming their business processes and document management from paper to digital. To respond to this growing need and to give their future clients confidence, Xerox needed a partner with banking experience. Ultimately, Xerox chose an IT provider with a solid reputation in banking and significant expertise in electronic payments and online services. Together, the two partners provide a complete solution for telecom companies moving from paper to digital.

Choosing partners can be tricky, especially when dealing with unknown solution providers. One approach use by Xerox is to examine suppliers already in the target market. Partnering with a potential clients’ existing supplier significantly boosts offer attractiveness. At Inova, we’ve found that leveraging a partnering portal is another great way to find the best partners for an opportunity. With a partnering portal, organizations gradually transform unknown solvers into a network of trusted, profitable partners. Thanks to analytics and reporting capabilities, organizations can analyze and compare each partnership’s success, weeding out the best partners from the rest. To learn more, check out our new whitepaper, The Key to Open Innovation Success: An Ecosystem of Partners.

Smart alliance governance

After finding the best partner for an opportunity, clear governance rules must be agreed upon and put in place. In particular, there should be zero uncertainty regarding the division of duties and responsibilities between partners and to the client. To reduce confusion, it’s best if only one organization represents the alliance. In this case, Xerox opted for a short term join venture, using legal contracts to explicitly and concretely define each partner’s duties. Further, Xerox served as the primary interlocutor for the client.

In our experience, no matter the form they take, alliance agreements generate large amounts of paperwork, making effective management a challenge. To overcome this challenge, organizations should implement alliance management best practices and deploy alliance management software that supports these processes. As a first set of features, the software must be capable of tracking all governance documentation and key contractual agreements, ensuring organizations never miss a deadline or contractual commitment.

Everyone wins with good alliance management

Successful alliances obviously bring big benefits for the partners, i.e. gaining capabilities, accessing new markets, sharing financial risk, etc., but these alliances also provide benefits for the client. As Xerox explains, through their alliance they supply clients with a complete solution and only one interlocutor, offering greater value and simplicity. Further, they are able to respond faster and better to clients’ evolving needs.

For more information on this webinar or regarding Alliance Management, check out the ASAP website.

About the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals (ASAP)

Founded in 1998, the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals (ASAP) is a professional association dedicated to elevating and promoting the profession and discipline of alliance management.

ASAP is the only organization dedicated to providing knowledge and resources, education and professional development, and a community for networking to alliance professionals at every stage of business collaboration—from partnership formation to alliance management after a deal is signed all the way through to the dissolution of a relationship.

In France, the ASAP France chapter forms a community of practice on experience and best practices for those who are looking on how to be successful in Alliance / Partnership management to innovate, access new markets or just differentiate themselves from competition.

For information please contact Pascal GOURSAUD at this e-mail address: Secretary_ASAP_France@strategic-alliances.org