According to Larraine Segil, author of Intelligent Business Alliances (Times Business), you should rate your would-be alliance partners in several areas, including these three vital ones:
E-readiness. Are the prospect's e-commerce initiatives up to speed? Learn the details of its e-commerce strategy, its expected outcomes and interim goals, and who's driving the process.
Customer loyalty. Companies that still follow the old way of viewing customers -- without too much customization, for example -- may be too far behind the curve to catch up quickly. However, if your potential partner has a loyal customer base, then you could leverage that asset by, say, investing in information technology that analyzes customers in greater detail.
Communication. Meshing two distinct company cultures requires nearly flawless communication -- electronic and otherwise -- of timely and accurate financial and market data. The more compatible your information sharing systems are, the better off you'll be. Don't allow your e-mail system to become a bottleneck.