Clause 6 – Engagement – Evaluating collaborative potential
This stage is designed to help you identify and select suitable partners. It not only assesses the performance aspects of each collaborative organisation, but also the way in which the two partners can work more closely together for mutual benefit. This stage can also be used to identify internal groups that could work more closely together, as well as external partners.
Collaborative relationships can be utilised in many different circumstances and finding the right partner should not be left to chance. Too often the selection process is by default or based on long term experience in a traditional relationship. This may not always be the best criteria.
The majority of collaborative programmes result from an evolution of more traditional trading interfaces. It is important to understand the differing dynamics of a collaborative approach and assess the strengths and weaknesses whatever the route to selection.
Nominate potential partners
Whatever the drivers for collaboration it is important to have a clear perspective on which the potential partner(s) may be. Experience suggests that in many organisations there will be preferred contenders for a variety of reasons. Understanding who could be in the game allows a transparent process to be developed.
Evaluate potential partners
The aims of the collaboration need to be defined together with the relative value that will be placed on their collaborative capability. Using the reference point of BS 11000 can provide a valuable benchmark for assessing a collaborative approach.
Establish partner selection plans
Many organisations will have established processes for partner selection and these should be followed as the starting point to seek out the ideal collaborative partner. You could apply the Kraljic model to the process.
Create joint objectives and negotiation strategy
Throughout the selection process it is advisable to work with the potential partners to understand their objectives as well as building a dialogue around common objectives and outcomes. These may not always be the same but should be evaluated for alignment and compatibility.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of creating a collaborative approach comes through the process of negotiation. The implications of the style of negotiation can be far reaching and will set the tone for the futue relationship. The nature of negotiations will set the tone for the future relationship. While we have all experienced the win/win approach the reality is that most exchanges, if not managed effectively, will revert to traditional “arm wrestling and poker playing”.
This is not to suggest that negotiations should not be robust and commercially focused but be sure that the end game is always kept in mind.
It is clearly important to ensure that selection maintains the competitive edge that many see only coming from competition. To build confidence in the selection process a competitive starting approach is always favourable or a way of conducting a form of robust benchmarking. It should however clearly define the end game up front to avoid confusion later.