The Power of Commonality in Alliances

Commonality in business to business alliances is a good thing.
Imagine for a second what would happen if you had the following in your alliances:

  • A common understanding of the current situation, challenges and opportunities facing both / all parties to the alliance.
  • Common agreement as to where both sides need to go to achieve success (Common Vision).
  • Agreement as to the strengths and weaknesses of the current relationship.
  • Agreement as to the common process to be used to manage the alliance day to day.

The Tangible Benefits of Commonality
Research from the Alliance Best Practice Ltd database suggests the following tangible benefits of commonality:

  • Speed - Less time lost trying to explain to each other where both sides think they are at.
  • Consensus - Both sides agree as to what needs to be done and will therefore strive to achieve it for the benefit of both.
  • Cost - Reduced costs because both sides are sharing the cost of delivering something that both sides want.
  • Tracking - using a common process allows both sides to track progress easily and therefore take early corrective action to avoid delays lost opportunities and further costs.
  • Trust - Research by Douglas Brodie from the University of Edinburgh in his article: Mutual Trust and Confidence: Catalysts, Constraints and Commonality suggests that commonality leads to increased trust and confidence in alliance relationships.

The Evidence
Alliance Best Practice Ltd has been capturing data on common success factors in strategic alliances for over a decade now. In that time we have assessed over 600 strategic alliance relationships. The evidence from our research suggests that those alliances with a high score in such things as:

  • Common operational metrics
  • Common Vision
  • Common business value propositions
  • Common understanding of the costs and benefits of the alliance
  • Identified mutual needs in the alliance
  • Perform significantly better than those alliances which do not have such commonality of understanding.

How to Achieve Commonality
So if commonality is such a desired thing, how do you achieve it practically?
Increasingly the answer is that they use a non prescriptive and non proprietary alliance optimisation process built on best practice foundations.
This does not mean to say that either side stops doing what they are already doing (after all they have spent many man years developing their own proprietary partnering systems - it would be both too expensive and too time consuming to throw them away and start again from fresh). rather they use an open system to create a 'commonality bridge' between their partnering systems and those of their partners.
The name of this common system is VST (Vision Skills and Trust) and the community of current users is becoming increasingly impressive: Accenture, Adobe, Atos, AT&T, BT Global Services, Canon, Canopy, Capgemini, CGI, Cisco, Cognizant, Colt Telecom, CSC, Dassault Systemes, Deloitte, Dell, EMC, Equinix, Fujitsu, HCL, HP Enterprise Services, IBM, Infosys, Infor, Konica Minolta, Kaspersky Lab, KPMG, Microsoft, NetApp, O2 Telefonica, Oracle, PwC, Qliktech, Rackspace, Ricoh,, Samsung, SAP, Schneider-Electric, Sungard, TCS, Tieto, VMware, and Wipro Technologies.
For further information on VST and the commercial advantages of adopting its use see here:
Simply log in to the downloads section and type VST into the search field.  You will see all the supporting documentation regarding the common alliance process called VST.

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