Collaboration: Five phases to success


YTKO business analyst & advisor Chloë Teale, stresses the importance of a structured approach to business relationships

In October’s issue we discussed why businesses should consider collaboration and categorised them into three broad areas – co-development, coproduction and co-distribution.

However, collaboration requires not only development of the project, but also focus, time and commitment from each partner. This month, we’re looking at the life cycle of a collaboration and the importance of adhering to some form of structure as part of the process. Using a simple five-stage approach ensures a greater clarity and understanding for all parties involved.

Phase One: Attraction

• What are the opportunities?

• What financial return do you expect to get?

• What are the risks involved and can these be minimised through a partnership?

• What is your attitude to collaboration and what is the attitude of your organisation?

Collaboration is not necessarily the correct response to solving problems or opportunities

that can arise in any business. The first phase of the process therefore enables companies to assess whether collaboration really is an option they should consider.

Answering these questions in a structured way helps guide the decisions on taking collaboration further.

Phase Two: Identification

• What do you want to do and who do you want to do it with?

This stage identifies suitable partners and match-makes opportunities against individual expertise and capabilities. It’s also important to identify any additional factors to ensure success or reduce any risk of failure. If the project does need further expertise, the collaboration can then decide to develop this internally or seek an additional partner.

This phase also establishes who drives the process forward. The initiative may have come from one company but the leadership and management of the collaboration may need to come from one of the other members or even an external facilitator.

Phase Three: Formation

• The collaboration agreement: roles, responsibilities and accountabilities

• Confidentiality agreements

• Allocation of intellectual property rights

The first element is essential as it binds and commits the team, with common aims and objectives. Once agreement is reached and resources are allocated, the project can then go ahead.

Additional legal agreements may be required, depending on the scope and nature of the project. It is also recommended that performance measures are put in place to assess the ongoing success or otherwise of the project.

Phase Four: Implementation

• The hub of the collaboration

This is where the work of the previous three phases really pays off. Whilst in this operational phase, however, it remains essential that the sharing of information and resolution of problems is on-going and the levels of commitment maintained.

Phase Five: Evaluation:

• The effectiveness of the collaboration process

• The quality and coherence of the partnership

• The effectiveness of the project

It is good practice to continuously review the performance of any project. This is vital as the level of resources and costs increases with each phase and it is essential to determine the overall effectiveness of the project.

Partner to Succeed helps businesses through these five phases, from initial concept to final evaluation, offering experience, guidance and support. In future editions, we will look into each Phase in more detail.