Certification: R-E-S-P-E-C-T for Partner Managers?

Posted: 8/24/2007 by Norma Watenpaugh

One of the major efforts I have been part of this past six months is developing a certification exam for alliance professionals for the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals. Consumed, may be a better description of the time and effort that has gone into this initiative. The alliance with AMA and the promotional activities such as the \"Eight Secrets\" webcasts are all part of raising visibility around the emergence of partner management as a management discipline with defined and codified skills and expertise.I am leading the Standards Advisory Board.

We are chartered with identifying the competencies an alliance manager should have, writing the questions for the certification exam and of course the answers! We have chosen to work with a firm called Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP). AMP has a strong track record in creating certification programs that are legally defensible meaning that they can demonstrate that the exams are accurate measures of professional competency. Can you say psychometrics? I\'ve been practicing.

It has been an amazing journey and I am quite pleased that we chose AMP to guide us. The rigor and methodology that they have put us through has been a lot of hard work. My role as chief cat-herder of over 30 volunteers has also been a lot of work over and above the intellectual process of creating the exam. The level of commitment and enthusiasm from the volunteers has been heartening.

We have had more than a few 6-hour marathon conference calls to finalize the exam before we open it for Beta testing, initially to the 30 volunteers to become the first wave of credentialed alliance managers. Unbelievable, all that work and for reward - you get to take a test!

If you are interested in the ASAP certification, check out the website: www.strategic-alliances.org. We expect the exam to be open to the general membership in September. Or tune into the webcast: Advance your Career through Alliance Management Certification on September 13 https://www.gotomeeting.com/register/972214876

I would be interested to hear from folks in the profession. Do you believe Certification will benefit you personally? Do you think certification will give you an edge in career development? Do you think it will elevate the role of alliance/partner management? Sock-it-to-me!

Responses to Certification: R-E-S-P-E-C-T for Partner Managers?

Anthony Richard
www.glomediation.com

My first experience in attending Alliance Best Practice workshop in the UK was very insightful and quite expository . It indeed inspired craving for more knowledge in the field of ASAP for me. I think the certification will raise standards in the African continent among professionals and build confidence not withstanding the dearth of ASAP members in the continent.

Anthony Richard
www.glomediation.com

My first experience in attending Alliance Best Practice workshop in the UK was very insightful and quite expository . It indeed inspired craving for more knowledge in the field of ASAP for me. I think the certification will raise standards in the African continent among professionals and build confidence not withstanding the dearth of ASAP members in the continent.

Jeremy Ahouse

I participated in the question writing for this exam and took the inaugural test. I struggle with the very premise of a standardized and easy-to-score Alliance Management exam. On the one hand I think building a shared set of expectations could drive training to be quite productive and make alliance management a less inadvertent career. Project Management, for example, has transitioned from an accidental profession into a body of knowledge within the profession that many people believe can be tested (thanks in part by the enthusiasm for training and testing by PMI and PMBOK). Alliance management may not be so easily domesticated. But then neither, really, is project management. For a good example of people who are trying to capture nuanced PM practices see http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?ProjectManagementPatterns Alliance management's "best" practices are as prone to simplifications that have pathological application and unintended consequences as simplifications in any domain. We could talk into the evenings about alignment, buy-in, senior management support, governance... What can be easily taught, what can be tested and what ought to be done in a particular, complex, negotiation or operational plan don't completely overlap. As I asked during the question writing workshop, "In Alliance Management isn't the correct answer always, 'all of the above'?" One last point. In pharmaceutical development, my industry, area expertise counts for an awful lot. People attracted or placed into to Alliance Management are often drawn from those scientists and technologists who found themselves in project management or business development. And while in principle a great alliance manager could hail from another field, I don't know of any. I initially thought that this would make a generic AM certificate less valuable, but I have changed my mind. Since AM skills are an adjunct skill set for everyone who holds a title of alliance manager in pharma and since we would like to spread those core skills broadly... I am enthusiastic about identifying basic alliance skills that we could teach, test and qualify. How far a standardized test can do this... I am less sure about. Though I do think often people need a place to start, not finish, their exploration of alliance practice. - Jeremy

Jim Chow

As an experienced alliance professional, alliance certification will not likely benefit me personally. HOWEVER, I do believe the certification process and related preparation training will be valuable to the alliance profession in (a) creating a useful training baseline for new or junior alliance professionals and (b) introducing common alliance language and frameworks that can be leveraged widely by all alliance professionals globally.

Tom Incorvia

I think the idea of creating some standards for performance in the large landscape of alliance work is very good. Personally, I am confident that this certification process will distinguish me from other job candidates as I transition back into the work of strategic alliance management. I agree with Tom: I am looking forward to the next level of certification with my years of experience in this career space. Rob Hibner

Tom Incorvia

Although I am a huge fan and proponent of the program, it is unlikely that the initial certification will benefit me professionally.I am looking forward to the "diplomate" or vertical certifications that will provide a more differentiated certification. Tom Incorvia

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