How should teams prepare to launch new partnerships and ensure that communication and tools are correctly set up?

 I find this topic fascinating and will be giving a talk during the April 2018 Berlin conference about how to prepare to launch a new collaboration. A quick online search can reveal many practical guidelines and tips about how to best start a collaboration. There are useful articles available especially from established alliance management training organisations: these typically focus on the considerations and processes that need to be taken into account for a successful collaboration. Advice ranges across many diverse aspects such as identifying collaboration champions, having effective governance structures and having secure IT connections. Whilst these general principles apply to most collaborations, there are no standards: expectations for communication, governance, levels of formality etc. are frequently different for each alliance. In practice, a skilled alliance manager should pay attention to all these factors and yet it is also the more intangible and people-skills aspects that can easily make or 'break' a collaboration. Key success criteria in these areas are less systematically defined and relevant esoteric training is harder to find: in my view it is more an accumulation of experience and training
in self-awareness, empathy and other relevant communication skills that lead to success and survival of a collaboration. All the more reason therefore to share and describe those experiences through events such as the conference.

How can organisations align both strategy and teams so that the intended value is created?

Our role as alliance managers is broad and we typically have unique insights into the contrasting strategy and personnel of collaborating organisations. Ideally, the joint alliance strategy should support each individual organisation’s strategy; that facilitates alignment of teams with the strategy. At its very best, I think that alliance management can act as a watchtower for collaborations, to prompt the people and organisations involved to ask “is this strategy working?”

Is it difficult to measure success and if so, why?

In typical pharmaceutical alliances the true metric of success is whether the collaboration produces or enables a novel and reimbursable medicine that addresses a previously unmet need for patients. Since developing a new medicine can take many years, there is a
strong need for interim ‘biomarkers’ of alliance health. A judge of the US Supreme Court is quoted as having said “I know it when I see it”. Others have suggested a variety of semi-objective measures; for example, do collaborating teams refer to “we” (i.e. we are all in this
together) or “them and us”? Many companies, including GSK, use a range of additional questions as part of alliancehealth-check surveys to determine the strengths and weaknesses of collaborations; such data requires careful interpretation and is ideally a starting point for further dialogue. Project or sales milestones provide tangible measures of progress. From my experience, an excellent test of an alliance is to observe objectively how disagreements are resolved: in any productive collaboration, there are almost guaranteed to be disagreements.

What can metrics teach us in terms of our own company’s behaviour?

Regardless of the specific metrics chosen by a company, I think it is worth remembering a quote from William Makepeace Thackeray: “The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it will in turn look sourly upon
you; laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly kind companion; and so let all young persons take their choice.” This applies equally well to alliances: if companies don’t work collaboratively within their own organisation, then they are unlikely to do so in alliances. A useful metric for alliance managers to consider is what proportion of their time is spent engaging with internal stakeholders versus engaging with external stakeholders.

What would you like to achieve by attending the 8th Annual Strategic Alliance Management for Pharma?

 I look forward to having fun, meeting new and existing friends, and gaining as many novel perspectives as possible regarding the science and art of alliance management.

Request a Brochure

Learn, explore and unleash your inner chef.

For more information, contact:
Yiota Andreou

Ahead of the 8th Annual Strategic Alliance Management for Pharma Conference, we spoke with Dr. Keith Buchanan Smith, Alliance Director RD Worldwide Business Development at GSK about how teams should prepare to launch new partnerships and how organisations can align both strategy and teams.

Practical Insights From:
Alliances Progress
Astellas Pharma
Bayer AG Pharmaceuticals
Evotec (UK) Ltd.
Novo Nordisk
Pierre Fabre
University of London


About the Conference:

This marcus evans conference will look at the value creation within Alliance
Management and how to empower and align the role of Alliance Management
within the company. The delegates will benefit from experienced case study and
learn how to maximise the potential of the collaboration in order to bring the
relationship to mature stage, how to create a strong commitment beyond size
and cultural differences and create the road for new and fruitful development.
8th Annual Strategic Alliance Management for Pharma Conference will
take place from the 23rd until the 25th of April 2018 in Berlin, Germany.

Copyright © 2018 Marcus Evans. All rights reserved.

Previous Attendees Include: 

Abbott Bioresearch Centre
Bayer Healthcare
Boehringer Ingelheim
Bristol-Myers Squibb
Daiichi Sankyo Group
Eli Lilly and Company
Johnson & Johnson
Merck & Co
Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharmaceuticals
Novartis Pharma AG
Roche Biologics
Shire Pharmaceutical

About the speaker:

Keith Buchanan Smith PhD: Keith has worked with GSK since 2005 in technical
and corporate roles. He is currently Director of Worldwide Business Development for external collaborations. Prior to joining GSK, Keith worked in
various industries including fine & heavy chemical, forestry, music, food, biotech
and consultancy as well as 3 business start-ups. He is also a professional
touring musician.

How can organisations align both strategy and teams so that the intended value is created?


Interview with Dr. Keith Buchanan Smith,
Alliance Director RD Worldwide Business
Development at GSK

Dr. Keith Buchanan Smith,
Alliance Director RD Worldwide Business Development at GSK

Fix the following errors: