Alliance Scorecarding and Performance Management at TechCo. A Vantage Partners Case Study

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1 Alliance Scorecarding and Performance Management at TechCo A Vantage Partners Case Study

2 With the assistance of Vantage Partners, TechCo, a microelectronics company based in California, developed and implemented a comprehensive alliance scorecarding and performance management process that increased the ROI of its alliance ecosystem and improved senior management s understanding of the financial and strategic value of its most important alliances. The Challenge As is the case with many companies, TechCo s alliances involve multiple functional groups within the organization from R&D, to Marketing, to Sales. As a result, it was difficult for alliance directors to quantify and communicate the true value and status of their key alliances to senior management and other stakeholders within the organization in a consistent manner. The alliance management team also recognized that the full potential of their alliances was not being realized due to the lack of a formal and consistent process for jointly measuring and reviewing alliance progress together with key partners. Goals of the Alliance Scorecarding Process TechCo s Software Alliances group realized that they needed a standard alliance scorecard framework that also allowed for incorporation of specific metrics that might differ from alliance to alliance, as well as a process by which they could: Demonstrate the total value alliances delivered to the enterprise Increase the value delivered by alliances by using metrics to influence partner behavior, and behavior within TechCo in particular, by improving alignment around goals, clarifying commitments, and increasing accountability for execution against alliance business plans Ensure that TechCo s software alliances were delivering value to its partners an RFP with a goal of selecting a well-established firm with a track record of implementing successful alliance scorecarding initiatives. After considerable evaluation, TechCo selected Vantage Partners because of their combination of alliance consulting experience, a dedicated alliance management practice, and proven alliance thought leadership, as evidenced by an extensive body of research and publications. Together with Vantage Partners, TechCo took a three phase approach to develop and implement its alliance scorecarding process. The key steps of each phase are detailed below. Phase I: Planning & Preliminary Data Gathering Analysis The goal of this first phase was to develop a Baseline Scorecard for TechCo that could then be customized to fit each alliance, while also allowing for aggregated reporting and cross-alliance comparisons. The TechCo scorecard was designed using a threetiered measurement framework: Scorecard Level Name Description Level 1 Categories These high-level areas of measurement were designed to facilitate aggregated reporting for senior management: * Strategic Value * Financial Value * Relationship Quality Level 2 Sub- Categories Within each category, two to three sub-categories of measurement were selected. For example, Strategic Alignment and Joint Innovation were the two sub-categories selected for the Strategic Value category According to Pamela, TechCo s Alliance Director, We wanted to make sure we were delivering for our partners, not just ourselves, and regularly measuring our alliances was the best way to ensure that we were. Overview of Project Approach TechCo began by searching for a consulting firm to assist them with the scorecarding project. They issued Level 3 Specific Metrics For each sub-category, two to five critical metrics were defined to assess performance. Individual metrics and targets were customized for each alliance. They were, however, designed to roll-up to common sub-category scores to enable consistent reporting across alliances.

3 Step #1: Gain Internal Stakeholder Buy-in To develop the Baseline Scorecard, the joint TechCo /Vantage Partners team began by ensuring all stakeholders, including senior management, understood the project objectives and would commit the time and effort required to gather and analyze scorecard data. In addition, TechCo s business development division was very interested in scorecarding as well, so this project was seen as a pilot that could possibly be modified for use in other areas of the organization in the future. Step #2: Develop List of Potential Categories and Metrics Vantage then conducted interviews with all of TechCo s Alliance Directors and the rest of the leadership team to identify what potential categories were most important to measure, based on the business objectives for each alliance, and what specific metrics could be used to assess performance against those categories. Combining this feedback with experiences working with other high-tech clients, as well as lessons learned from other industry sectors, Vantage developed a list of categories and approximately 100 individual metrics (both qualitative and quantitative in nature) that could be measured with a manageable amount of effort from TechCo, its partners, or an identified third-party source. Step #3: Select Baseline Scorecard Metrics & Targets Through a number of facilitated working sessions led by Vantage, TechCo prioritized the metrics that they felt were of greatest value across the alliance portfolio, and that could most easily be integrated into already established data gathering processes within the company. The joint team carefully evaluated potential metrics to determine what alliance management decisions would actually be made on the basis of having such information. Only metrics that offered a clear benefit to decision-making and improvement of alliance performance made the final cut. From Pamela s perspective, We wanted to avoid measurement for the sake of measurement. Vantage helped us zero in on specific metrics for each partner, while ensuring commonality across our alliance portfolio for easier reporting to executives. Vantage helped TechCo determine the optimal set of metrics, balancing breadth of metrics, precision, and the time and effort required to gather and analyze the data. They also guided TechCo to incorporate both trailing indicators (of value achieved) and leading indicators that could be used to proactively guide alliance management. Focusing on the leading indicators was critically important as it allowed our leadership team to anticipate both future alliance results and potential challenges that needed to be addressed in order for each alliance to succeed, says Pamela. For each metric chosen, three color-coded score ranges were defined: Range Description Point Value Green Yellow Red The target score range for the metric (versus the defined target) The caution range for the metric indicating improvement is required The critical range for the metric indicating immediate action is required The color-coded stoplight system, already in use in other areas at TechCo and familiar to executives, was chosen to make it easy to spot areas of concern when reviewing summary scorecard data. The point values assigned to each range normalized values for individual metrics (which involved various units of measure). At this point, TechCo had a Baseline Scorecard that could be shared with its alliance partners for their feedback. Phase II: Validate and Customize Scorecards & Blueprint the Performance Management Business Process Step #1: Engage Alliance Partners & Finalize Scorecards The joint team met with the key contacts at each alliance partner to discuss and revise the Baseline Scorecard based on partner feedback. Where required, the metrics, their definitions, target scores and the process for collecting the data were customized to reflect the unique goals and structure of each alliance. By incorporating metrics that were important to partners, TechCo was able to build partner commitment to the scorecard framework and the joint performance management process. Ensuring that partners would equally benefit from the scorecarding process was a key design principle

4 Step #2: Develop and Refine Blueprint of Alliance Performance Measurement Process In parallel with finalizing individual alliance scorecards, the joint team developed a clear process at TechCo for: Gathering scorecard data Analyzing alliance performance and conducting joint reviews with partners Developing Alliance Improvement Plans, and monitoring and communicating progress Reviewing and adjusting scorecards with partners on an annual basis Phase III: Gather, Analyze Data and Conduct Joint Scorecard Reviews Step #1: Gather Data & Complete Scorecards Metrics data for the scorecards was collected from, and entered by, a number of sources. Alliance Directors and other internal employees entered readily available data directly into the scorecards. Targeted online surveys were created using an existing automated survey tool at TechCo to solicit qualitative responses from multiple internal and partner stakeholders. Quantitative data was extracted from several internal and third-party reports. Once the data were entered for each individual metric, scores were calculated for each sub-category and category of the scorecard. Step #2: Analyze & Review Scorecard Results with Partners Each TechCo Alliance Director met with their alliance partner counterparts to validate the scorecard results. Any revisions of scores based on inconsistent data were jointly agreed upon and noted in the scorecards. At the end of the validation process, the scorecard was locked to create the official historical record of alliance performance for that time period. Going through the review process revealed differences in perspectives that really allowed both us and our partners to better understand exactly what we were each trying to achieve with our alliance initiatives, says Pamela. Step #3: Develop & Communicate Alliance Improvement Plans For each alliance, a Joint Scorecard Review Meeting attended by key alliance stakeholders was held in order to: Review the alliance scorecard and compare to past performance Celebrate alliance successes Identify and document lessons learned Identify areas for improvement, including diagnosing causes of under-performance Identify new risks and opportunities The results from the meeting were used to jointly develop an Alliance Improvement Plan to address specific areas and root causes of sub-optimal performance, and to capitalize on newly identified opportunities. Almost every alliance had at least one aspect of performance that could be improved, including a few surprises that led to deeper partner discussions. According to Pamela, We were particularly interested in scores that were yellow or red which indicated we needed improvement in those strategic areas. With our partners, we identified what needed to be done within the next six months with the goal of improving those metrics by one color level before the next scorecard was compiled. Results With the new scorecarding process in place for 6 months, TechCo has witnessed the following results: Increased Understanding of Alliance Value With the ability to aggregate the results of the scorecards into a single dashboard, TechCo was able to clearly demonstrate the overall strategic and financial value that its top alliances were delivering to the company. The scorecards were also very helpful in demonstrating where each alliance was in terms of its lifecycle. For executives who were looking for immediate results from a new alliance, the scorecards provided them with a more realistic sense of when they could expect to realize the desired outcomes and allowed them to see out into the horizon. Improved Alliance Performance & Resource Allocation Both TechCo and its partners were able to identify areas of improvement and specific activities that, once undertaken, resulted in improved alliance performance, without requiring any significant increase in resources. The ability to demonstrate where specific assistance was needed helped alliance team to secure the necessary support from executives, as well as the technology development and sales divisions.

5 In one particular alliance, the scorecard results revealed to TechCo that the relationship was no longer a key strategic alliance. By exiting the alliance, the company was able to reduce alliance-related costs and re-allocate alliance resources to its more strategic relationships. Improved Alliance Competence As they went through the scorecard process, members of TechCo s alliance team found that they gained a much better understanding what efforts were necessary to guarantee the success of each relationship. According to Pamela, It really helped each team member to understand their unique goals and objectives and it kept them very focused on the actions required to achieve them. Increased Partner Satisfaction Lastly, the scorecarding process provided TechCo and its Alliance Directors with a more complete perspective of what matters most to its partners. As a result, TechCo has made some significant changes to its alliance practices which have allowed it to increase trust and improve collaboration with its partners. The fact that we actually initiated this project with each of our partners meant that we took their alliance as something strategic and their opinion was important to us. We found our partners started working harder with us because they knew both sides were committed to achieving our goals, says Pamela.

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8 About Vantage Partners, LLC Vantage Partners, a spin-off of the Harvard Negotiation Project, is a management consulting firm that specializes in helping companies achieve breakthrough business results by transforming the way they negotiate, and manage relationships with, key business partners. To learn more about Vantage Partners or to access our online library of research and white papers, please visit Brighton Landing West 10 Guest Street Boston, MA USA T F Vantage Partners, LLC. All rights reserved.

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