In today’s competitive environment, more and more companies are looking to form partnership activities. But how do you set up a project partnership? After reading the below you will know the 10 stages needed to successfully set up a project partnership.
Before any partnership can take place it’s important to ensure that the Initiating Organisation creates a clear scope of both the purpose and benefits of what it wants to achieve from any potential partnership, and this scope then helps to determine which type of organisation it is looking to partner with.
After the scoping phase has been completed, it is now time to identify which organisations best fit in creating a mutual partnership. To help in doing this a simple partner checklist should be created, or an analysis of where similar partnership approaches has worked effectively, and from that information make a list of potential initial contacts you wish to make.
Potential Partner Checklist (sample questions)
|Characteristics / partnering capacity (actual or potential)||Score 1 = low (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)|
|A good reputation and track record in their sector? With other sectors?||1 2 3 4 5|
|Sound management and governance structure||1 2 3 4 5|
|Interest in and willingness to collaborate||1 2 3 4 5|
Once a partner has been identified, it’s then important to then invest sufficient time and effort to deepen the understanding between the different partners, and to arrange meetings between the key individuals who will be involved. This is important to learn about each organisations different cultures, working practices and decision making procedures. Time spent here will help the partnership be robust and deal with any challenges that will arise.
I love saying “nobody plans to fail they fail to plan”. Experience shows this is never more important than setting up a partnership agreement. It is vital from the outset to make sure that the right individuals are involved, and expectations are clear and acceptable. This planning will involve such things as the broad agreement on the key issues of the partnership, the partnership activities and outcomes, and the decision making processes.
Once the an agreement is in place, the next phase is then to put in place the infrastructure to develop the agreed programme of work. This will become the ‘operational’ organisation to manage the delivery of the agreed partnership. This will involve the partnerships sponsors, project teams, networks and associated representatives.
I have been involved in a partnership where a CEO of the initiating partner had insisted that their day-to-day business activities were not impacted by the partnership work. In this case there was initial enthusiasm for creating the partnership, but a clear disconnect in what they believed their organisation would offer. Partners need to actually deliver what they have committed to delivering, and this means by mobilising whatever resources needed, be it equipment, people and cash.
This is where as they say ‘the rubber hits the road’. That is why it is vital to have clear and detailed plans of activity, that not only lists the recourses involved, by also by when tasks will be delivered. It’s important to remember that partnerships can last 12 months or more. So it’s important to be both practical and precise in what projects are being undertaken.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying ‘what gets measures gets done’. With a partnership it’s very important to have regular partner check point meetings to review the progress that is being made and to discuss if the targets and goals that were set are being achieved? These such check point meeting are crucial, and ultimately are the meetings that need to determine by each partnership to justify their involvement.
At some point the partnership will come to an end. This is usually as a result of a fixed term such as a 12 or 18 months agreement. When this times comes it’s very important that the initiating organisation produces a detailed partnership report that explains the projects outputs and impact as it relates to the initial scope that was agreed.
Once the partnership has been completed it’s vital that both partners come together to discuss if the partnership has met its original expectations. Not only from any financial perspective, but depending on how the partnership was set up, its competitive differentiation, market development, reach an impact to name but a few. From these findings each partner will then produce their own lesson learnt report, which can then be used as reference for their next partnership.
Quick Win Action.
Before commencing with any partnership, answer these 3 business questions first, 1. What are you looking to achieve from a partnership? 2. Who are you achieving it for? 3. How will you measure its success.
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