Learning a Lesson in Alliance Metrics – More Simple if Less Easy With Qualitative Relationship Metrics   4 comments

My earlier post on alliance metrics has drawn many valuable comments, and helped me evolve my perspective significantly.

Some colleagues have provided special advice. I strongly recommend any readers of this to follow their valuable contributions to online discussion forums.

  • Joe Kittel – driving Spiritual Principles in Business Relationships  –  and Eric Moss  engaged generously in deep, in-person discussions.
  • Peter Simoons – leading Simoons & Company  –  also raised a very relevant point in his quick overview of alliance metrics.
    Peter distinguishes between metrics internal to one organization and metrics agreed between two alliance partners, and points to scorecards as a comprehensive if complex approach.
    Finally, and most importantly in my opinion, Peter leverages contributions by other commenters to my original post to highlight *relationship metrics* as a key tool to focus on.
  • Both Peter  and I are grateful to Tara Mylenski for her comments.

The key lesson I have been able to gather from this wealth of insight is: measuring alliances is more simple than it is easy.
It takes a specific effort to go beyond an initial level of simplicity to a higher level that is, as Joe helpfully articulated, beyond complexity.  

Commenters helped me get there by considering and comparing quantitative metrics and qualitative metrics, especially relationship metrics.

For quantitative metrics we can argue, and hopefully agree, that they are easy.
Quantitative metrics are easy because they ultimately measure the economics of each alliance partner’s business (say revenue, or sales) Since we all measure our business, measuring an alliance is really about agreeing which part of one organization’s business is associated to one specific alliance.
If this is difficult, then something in the specific objectives of that alliance needs more clarity. This is a helpful result in itself, and it can drive either a clarification, or a conscious choice to focus on other alliances, or even the discovery that what makes this alliance special is really qualitative in nature and is best managed with qualitative metrics.

For qualitative metrics I now believe that they are difficult, and make measuring alliances more difficult.
Still, various examples from comments and discussions have convinced me that some of the most valuable features that make one alliance special are qualitative. So it is important that we define them so well as to make them, finally, simple.

A very concrete, specific instance: on the one alliance I focus on, I have begun discussing with my colleagues and correspondents how some key limits to growth may be easier to address if we start measuring and managing few qualitative parameters that address relationship in the field.
One such parameter could be mutual satisfaction at selected touch points in the field – just how happy are key account managers and solution sales managers with their work together?

This example suggests how more difficult and still so much promising and insightful alliance metrics may become when we add a qualitative, relationship-focused component to a solid foundation of quantitative, business-based metrics.

Getting there may help us to make an alliance, and measuring it, truly simple – if more difficult than using quantitative metrics only.


Posted July 9, 2012 by Gianluca Marcellino in Alliances, Computer e Internet

Tagged with , ,

4 responses to “Learning a Lesson in Alliance Metrics – More Simple if Less Easy With Qualitative Relationship Metrics

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  1. Gianluca, I think you hit the nail on the head with this brief post. Could it be that alliances remain challenging, and often do not live up to expectations from the top, because hostorically we like to measure our business performance quantitavely and allow qualitative to guide us only in customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction areas of our business?
    Using the alliance business model could be the catalyst for organizations adopting ‘social’ as a key component of success. Looking at processes from an engineering perspective and using mostly quantitative data to engage in process/perfoance improvement has always felt limited to me. Including feedback on employee’s satisfaction with interaction during the process could add significantly to overall perfoance improvement.


  2. This short article on alliance metric best practices http://business.financialpost.com/2012/06/22/successful-strategic-alliances-how-to-create-a-mutually-agreeable-measure-success/, by Andrew Brown and Phil Hogg on Financial Post, offers very clear examples and categories to show good reasons to go beyond quantitative economic busines metrics.


  3. Like all successful alliance leaders, I have always had a passion for measuring alliances. When Phil Hogg (President, the Association of Strategic Alliances – Toronton Chapter) and I started our research, we approached the topic from a number of different angles — as long as they were rooted in practical experience.

    Effectively measuring alliances is so very critical to helping companies achieve exponential growth. Yet, the topic rarely gets the airplay it truly deserves. So, thank you for keeping it alive!


  4. Gian,
    I thought your post interesting and wanted to point you to a guy i mentored a few years back (he could mentored me) who has done so well in this space, his understanding of alliances and how to manage them programatically and strategically is great, you can buy his book on amazon “Alliance Brand” Mark Darby, he also has a software solution to support this space, you can see it online, PAM, do check him out and if you want a personal intro Im happy to do that.





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