In product development, an alliance is a formal arrangement with a separate company for the purposes of shared risk and reward. This may involve the exchange of information, hardware, intellectual property, or enabling technology. Alliances usually involve product development, and may be critical to the success of a product launch. Many companies form alliances in order to share the costs and risks of product development, as well as to benefit from each other's expertise and resources. In some cases, an alliance may be the only way to access certain technologies or markets. Alliances can be very beneficial, but they also come with some risks. It is important to carefully consider all aspects of an alliance before entering into one.