About collaborative working wiki
Below is the version of this page from Mar 01, 2012 02:44 PM
Collaborative working (knowhow)
An introduction to working with other organisations including getting started and top tips.
What is collaborative working?
Organisations in the voluntary and community sector collaborate in many different ways, including:
- informal sharing of information and resources
- developing bulk purchasing arrangements
- developing joint functions such as IT services or voice and advocacy roles
- forming consortia to jointly tender for commissioned service delivery
- setting up a strategic alliance for joint business planning purposes.
The benefits of successful collaboration include greater efficiency and use of resources, improved services, a stronger voice and influence and organisational sustainability.
Key stages of collaboration
Successful collaborative working does require investment of time and resources. Good preparation and an understanding of the processes involved will, no doubt, bring about a greater chance of success.
Think carefully whether collaborative working is appropriate for your organisation. Be clear about your own goals and understand your strategic environment. This will help you in identifying and approaching your partners.
Work closely with your partners to develop your collaboration. Draw up shared aims, structures and agreements and develop positive relationships.
Manage the collaboration effectively with a strong action plan and communications plan. Prepare yourself for any possible frustrating times ahead by building in effective problem solving and understanding some of the key challenges that may arise.
Review and learn from your collaborative experience and use your learnings to prepare a forward strategy.
Ten top tips for collaboration
- Think about why you want to collaborate - collaboration needs to be driven by a sensible need.
- If you want to work with new partners, seek out organisations that complement your skills and objectives. Get recommendations from others who have worked with them.
- Join a network that can support you in developing links. But don’t underestimate the time and energy required to create and nurture a partnership.
- Don’t rush. Take time to build the relationship and make sure you have processes and partnership agreements in place before you undertake joint activities.Think short-term and long-term. It’s useful to have a short-term benefit, as it gets people round the table, but collaboration is about being in it for the long haul.
- Think laterally and strategically. People sometimes work in silos – we need to be more visionary and think beyond the interests of our own organisations and about the interests of those we want to serve.
- A clear, fair and transparent system for allocating funds to partners is essential.
- Building up internal partnership goodwill is crucial (early internal and external mini-successes help!) Set aside time for people to get to know each other.
- Recognise that building a good partnership is extra work and that saying thank you is important.
- Listen carefully to voices outside the partnership too. There’s a lot of benefit to be gained from hearing how other people perceive you. Spend time with your key stakeholders to ensure they understand the full depth and vision of the partnership.
(Taken from Bassac's collection of case studies)
- Collaboration for Commissioning (Locality)
- Charity Commission guidance on Collaborative Working and Mergers
- Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) -information on cross-sector partnership working
- Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) - action research with particular expertise in collaborative working and mergers. Two particularly good publications: Getting ready for collaboration - learning from experience and Thinking About ... Merger
- NCVO Collaborative Working - advice, information and guidance materials.
- Guardian Voluntary Q&A charity mergers and collaborations best bits (August 2011)
- How to collaborate (KnowHow howto guide)
Have your say
- What have you learnt about collaborative working that you could pass on to others?
- What are the things that cause partnerships or collaborations to go wrong?
- What advice would you give to organisations thinking about starting to work collaboratively?
Share your experiences or views on the organisation development forum.