What does an Alliance Manager do?

Alliance managers are a critical component of how an increasing number of biopharma organizations manage their R&D and commercial partnerships. But many participants in collaborative projects or ventures do not fully comprehend nor appreciate their role. Having led a workshop last month at the very stimulating Strategic Alliance Management for Pharma conference in Barcelona, it struck me once again how varied the understanding of this important role is even amongst practitioners. Not that this variation matters of course as long as the role adds value, especially given the diversity of the underlying alliances. Nevertheless, I thought it might be useful to at least summarize in one article all the important potential elements of the role.

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Do you Manage your Alliance Partner like a Supplier?

Some companies manage their important collaborators and alliance partners as if they were strategic suppliers. But this does not always make sense for every commercial and R&D alliance in today’s networked business world. In this article, we outline how the approach adopted for alliance management has evolved from the strategic sourcing and supplier relationship management paradigms, and discuss in more detail why it needs to go well beyond those roots in certain circumstances.

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Emergence and Evolution of R&D Alliance Management

As bioscience R&D collaborations have grown in volume and complexity over the last decade, so has widespread adoption of formal alliance management, especially by the larger companies. Yet despite the emergence of formal tools such as balanced scorecards and alliance health surveys, this approach has its limitations. As the nature of many collaborations shifts from outsourcing or intellectual property transfer to true innovation partnerships, formal alliance management needs to be supplemented by other informal ingredients to ensure successful outcomes.
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