Partnering - How to work successfully with Community Partners

The Business case

All large, and many medium sized organisations in the public, private and third sectors are involved in alliances and other forms of partnering. Leaders are increasingly choosing alliances and partnering, instead of acquisitions and mergers, to meet the needs of their customers and to grow their organisations. These agreements can be global, or regional or local.

There is a lack of statistics on the amount of activity done through partnering and outsourcing. With many public sector organisations and large companies it is likely to be around 60 - 80% and therefore critical to the ongoing success of these organisations.

Leaders decide to partner with other organisations for many reasons including to widen the client base or product range, to access expertise or technology, to reduce costs or to speed up the implementation of an idea.

This short chapter will be of particular interest to leaders and managers who are responsible for:

  1. existing alliances, partners and outsourcing; and/or
  2. internal relationships across their own denomination/organisation; and/or
  3. selecting and developing new partners, or who want to upgrade an existing supplier/customer to partner status

The Double 7 success factors for effective partnering

As a result of advising on alliances worldwide and also with Christian organisations in the UK, I consider that the critical success factors in developing and managing an alliance are:

  1. Ensuring that there is a viable market opportunity i.e. there's something of value for both partners and for the ultimate customer and that both parties commit to partner for the long term
  2. Shifting mindsets away from e.g. supplier/customer to those that are effective for partnering
  3. Building and maintaining trust and credibility
  4. Keeping channels of communications open
  5. Building with the business partner a shared vision/business objective, that is understood by the people in both organisations
  6. Defining a balanced set of metrics and allocating responsibility for monitoring each metric between the parties
  7. Having a sustainable win-win-win and understanding what this looks like for your organisation, your business partner and the ultimate customer
  8. Having an up to date legal agreement including protecting each party's intellectual property rights
  9. Having a strong sponsor in both organisations with clear roles
  10. Recognising and managing cultural differences
  11. Managing changing expectations and facing up to difficulties
  12. Being willing to exchange knowledge, new insights and innovation with the alliance partner
  13. Evaluating the alliance regularly
  14. Checking that both parties continue to be financially viable

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