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<p>Building an effective partnership</p> <p> Learning from experience.</p> <p>2016 Advice Services Transition Fund, Programme of the Big Lottery Fund</p> <p> (Building an effective partnership ) ( )</p> <p> (Advice Services Alliance) (2) ( )</p> <p>About this pack:</p> <p>Partnerships are very much on the agenda. Collaborating, sharing resources and taking a common approach makes obvious sense. Effective partnership working is hard work and can be fraught with difficulties. However the benefit of effective partnership working, in terms of benefits for users and communities can be huge. This pack draws on the experience of the Advice Services Transition Fund, a two-year programme funded by the Big Lottery Fund to build stronger advice services delivered by local advice sector partnerships. This pack draws on the experience of delivering the ASTF fund to help shape future partnerships.</p> <p>The overall intention of the material is to learn from the experience of successful and unsuccessful partnerships so that future partnerships can benefit from their experience and have more chance of being successful.</p> <p>The material was commissioned by the Advice Services Alliances and produced by Alan Lawrie, (mellaw@atlas.co.uk) an independent consultant.</p> <p>Contents:</p> <p>Introduction 1</p> <p>About partnerships 3</p> <p>The idea 9</p> <p>Getting the partnership organised 11</p> <p>Planning it out 19</p> <p>Roll out and delivery 25</p> <p>Bidding together 29</p> <p>Managing the end. 37</p> <p>About partnerships</p> <p>There is an overwhelmingly logical case that we should all work together. But put us round the table and watch the rivalries, hidden agenda and games come out.</p> <p>Experienced voluntary sector manager.</p> <p>Partnerships - the temporary suspension of mutual hostility in order to get hold of</p> <p>funding</p> <p>A senior civil servant.</p> <p>We intend to create an entirely new paradigm through dynamic collaboration that sets aside traditional silos that have blocked joint working and replace it with meaningful partnerships focused on shared outcomes</p> <p>A public sector commissioning framework.</p> <p>The term partnership has very much entered our vocabulary. From a top down level new programmes and commissioning increasingly expect or push for a partnership approach. At the same time many organisations realise that they cannot operate in isolation and that by working together opportunities arise. However, the term partnership is rarely defined and little support is given to creating and building strong partnership working.</p> <p>A 1998, Audit Commission report, A Fruitful Partnership: Effective Partnership</p> <p>Working defined partnerships as a working arrangement where the partners:</p> <p> are otherwise independent bodies;</p> <p> agree to co-operate to achieve a common goal;</p> <p> create a process to achieve this goal;</p> <p>plan and implement a jointly agreed programme, often with joint staff or resources;</p> <p> share relevant information;</p> <p> pool risks and rewards.</p> <p>By working together a partnership must have the potential to create more value or deliver more outcomes (e.g. better services) than the parties could create on their own.</p> <p>Partnerships take many different forms. All of which can work but also bring their own challenges and risks. Possibilities range from:</p> <p>Informal formal</p> <p>An ad hoc</p> <p>A common</p> <p>A protocol to</p> <p>A mechanism</p> <p>An independent</p> <p>liaison</p> <p>voice to</p> <p>share activities</p> <p>to jointly bid</p> <p>joint venture</p> <p>forum</p> <p>influence</p> <p>for funds</p> <p>ran by the partners</p> <p>Partnerships can be very informal and ad hoc or can be very structured and formal.</p> <p>Why partnerships?</p> <p>Several factors are driving the push for partnerships including:</p> <p>A belief by some funders and commissioners that partnership working saves money.</p> <p>A belief by some funders and commissioners that more value is created by getting organisations to work together.</p> <p>That services are uncoordinated, operate in isolation and duplicate effort.</p> <p>That through partnership working expertise and specialisms might get shared.</p> <p>That partnership working could lead to better user experience by sharing resources and having better access points and referral systems.</p> <p>That by choosing to work together might avoid the negative aspects of competition.</p> <p>Three starting points:</p> <p>In developing a new partnership three principles are key in starting out:</p> <p>1. Take the bigger view. All involved need to understand the external horizon and understand the opportunities and threats that the partnership can tackle. What are the external factors that are creating the need for or an opportunity for some form of partnership?</p> <p>2. Focus on the gain for clients and communities. By working in partnership what might we be able to do together that we cannot do separately. By collaborating what might we be able to deliver or do.</p> <p> (Building an effective partnership ) ( )</p> <p>3. Firm up goodwill. All partnerships (even quite ad hoc ones) need some kind of structure and agreement about how it will work. It cannot just rely upon peoples generosity, willingness to cooperate and trust.</p> <p>Different types of partnerships.</p> <p>It is possible to identify four different roles that partnerships can play:</p> <p> Coordinating</p> <p> Shared activity</p> <p> Bidding</p> <p> Joint delivery</p> <p>Description</p> <p>Use for</p> <p>Organisational and</p> <p>governance issues</p> <p>A coordinating partnership</p> <p>A coordinating partnerships main</p> <p>role is to bring agencies together,</p> <p>encourage communication</p> <p>and liaison between agencies.</p> <p>Networking</p> <p>Joint planning</p> <p>Liaison.</p> <p>Usually this kind of partnership does not</p> <p>require an organisational</p> <p>structure or process. All it needs is</p> <p>someone to agree to organise and</p> <p>facilitate its meetings.</p> <p>A shared activity</p> <p>partnership</p> <p>In this arrangement</p> <p>partners stay independent but</p> <p>agree to combine resources to take</p> <p>on and deliver a specific project or</p> <p>activity.</p> <p>Running a joint campaign.</p> <p>Sharing a common resource or</p> <p>worker.</p> <p>As the activity or project is usually for</p> <p>a fixed term setting up a separate</p> <p>structure is not viable or needed.</p> <p>However, an agreement will be</p> <p>needed on how costs and work will</p> <p>be shared amongst partners. One</p> <p>partner may be appointed to act as</p> <p>lead body to</p> <p>manage the activity.</p> <p>A bidding</p> <p>partnership</p> <p>The partnership is</p> <p>formed to bid or apply for a specific fund or contract. Rather than</p> <p>bidding on their own, organisations come together to develop and</p> <p>Often funders</p> <p>encourage joint bids to reduce duplication.</p> <p>Need to ensure that</p> <p>any joint bid is allowed under the commissioners procurement rules.</p> <p>The partners need to agree how to divide up the work</p> <p> (Building an effective partnership ) ( )</p> <p>submit one application.</p> <p>and resources up if successful.</p> <p>A joint delivery venture</p> <p>A partnership is created so that</p> <p>organisations can share resources.</p> <p>The new joint venture is run by</p> <p>the partners as a collaborative</p> <p>venture.</p> <p>To carry out a shared function</p> <p>e.g. delivering staff training or</p> <p>managing a shared building.</p> <p>To deliver a specific programme.</p> <p>Responsibilities for management,</p> <p>organisation and risk needs to be</p> <p>clearly agreed between partners.</p> <p>A partnerships lifecycle</p> <p>Partnerships often work through different stages. All of them present key challenges:</p> <p>Idea Organising and planning Rollout/delivery Ending</p> <p>Stage</p> <p>Key issues</p> <p>Challenges</p> <p>Idea</p> <p>Developing the common purpose behind the partnership.</p> <p>What unites us?</p> <p>What do we want to achieve by working together?</p> <p>Being clear about what is driving the partnership.</p> <p>Getting a vision for the partnership that is challenging</p> <p>and inspiring and also realistic. Managing different</p> <p>expectations.</p> <p>Organising</p> <p>the partnership</p> <p>Firming it up agreeing how the</p> <p>partnership is going to work, what model to use and deciding who is in.</p> <p>Designing a robust and clear</p> <p>structure for the partnership that is also flexible and open. Whos in the partnership? Agreement between partners.</p> <p>Planning</p> <p>the partnership</p> <p>Mapping out what is needed.</p> <p>Agreeing where the partnership should focus and direct its resources.</p> <p>Agreeing budgets and work plans.</p> <p>Moving from talking about</p> <p>things to doing it.</p> <p>Not over committing, or spreading resources too</p> <p>widely.</p> <p>Maintaining commitment and involvement of partners.</p> <p>Roll out and delivery</p> <p>Launching the partnership. Delivering the work plan.</p> <p>Monitoring performance</p> <p>Highlighting results and outcomes</p> <p>Making sure things get done. Ensuring consistency across</p> <p>partners.</p> <p>Progress chasing, problem solving and reporting back.</p> <p>Ending and renewal</p> <p>Deciding to continue, close or renew and refocus.</p> <p>Developing an exit or succession plan.</p> <p>Evaluating progress and outcomes.</p> <p>Planning the end.</p> <p>Ensuring that the partnership does not just fizzle out.</p> <p>Spotting future opportunities.</p> <p>Reviewing and celebrating success.</p> <p>Getting it to work</p> <p>In a series of workshops attended by organisations delivering the Advice Services Transition Fund identified the following building blocks needed to develop an effective partnership:</p> <p> Adequate time to prepare and plan;</p> <p> That the partnership is focused on a clear need</p> <p> The partnerships aims complement individual partners aims.</p> <p> Strong leadership</p> <p>Terms of references and other written agreements that have been discussed by and agreed to by each partner.</p> <p> A clear focus on a few realistic aims.</p> <p> Good project design and management skills</p> <p> That the partnership has a relevant identity and brand</p> <p>It is interesting that all of these factors are within the control of the partnership and can be developed and built on over time. For this to happen a</p> <p>partnership needs to build in development time to work on the following:</p> <p> (Building an effective partnership ) ( )</p> <p>Building a shared view of want to achieve.</p> <p>Developing an agreed way of managing and working.</p> <p> Mapping whats needed.</p> <p>Developing a realistic strategy.</p> <p>Looking back we made a big mistake in that we rushed into doing things as soon as we got the funding. We didnt take time to </p> <p> (what we)think and be strategic. </p> <p>It is important to build into the partnerships plan, time to reach agreement about what is possible between partners and agree a plan. Failure to do so can lead to the partnership having to go back to issues. This might involve holding back from delivery in order to ensure that the idea and plan behind the partnership is coherent and what is wanted.</p> <p>Building a common purpose:</p> <p>All of the partners need to be able to support a common purpose that gives the partnership a shared vision and connects together all its activities.</p> <p>A useful way of doing this is to encourage each partner to set out what they would like the partnership to achieve and focus on. Partners should be encouraged to describe what they feel should be the big idea behind the partnership i.e. what outcomes should it seek to bring about and also what they want from it.</p> <p>A new partnership of six groups working on tackling poverty on a local estate started by asking each group to outline what they felt the partnerships purpose should be:</p> <p>The next stage was to try to develop a realistic and common purpose that would be relevant to all partners.</p> <p>To do this it needs to be</p> <p> Challenging and also realistic</p> <p> Achievable by the partnership</p> <p> Fits with the work and direction of each partner.</p> <p> (Building an effective partnership ) ( )</p> <p>Discussion needs to focus on what links all of the individual aspirations in order to develop a purpose that create a unity of purpose.</p> <p>Whats driving it?</p> <p>Why create a partnership?</p> <p>This exercise aims to clarify the factors that might be driving the establishment of a partnership:</p> <p>Possible driver</p> <p>- Why the partnership is being pushed for?</p> <p>Relevance to</p> <p>your situation: Low to High.</p> <p>Implications</p> <p>By collaborating we can deliver better services together.</p> <p>Key funders and commissioners are actively encouraging or</p> <p>expecting collaboration.</p> <p>Partnership working could</p> <p>prevent the negative elements of competition and rivalry.</p> <p>We can learn from each other by</p> <p>sharing experience.</p> <p>The partnership might be able to</p> <p>access resources we would not be able to on our own.</p> <p>A partnership will give us a</p> <p>common voice to influence others</p> <p> (Building an effective partnership ) ( )</p> <p>Whos in?</p> <p>Deciding who will make up the partnership is an important task.</p> <p>It is useful to carry out a mapping exercise to identify organisations that could make up the partnership rather than simply rounding up the usual suspects.</p> <p>An easy way of doing a mapping exercise is identify the following</p> <p>Groups we currently work with on a regular basis.</p> <p>Groups we could or should work with.</p> <p>Groups that our clients or communities have regular contact with.</p> <p>Groups that do similar work to us.</p> <p>Groups that could be seen as potential competitors or duplicating what we do.</p> <p>Some partnerships have agreed a membership criteria to decide who should be admitted to membership of the partnership. Possible criteria for membership could include:</p> <p> Active commitment to the partnerships vision and values.</p> <p> That the work of the organisation fits with the work</p> <p>of the partnership.</p> <p> (Building an effective partnership ) ( )</p> <p> That the organisation has quality</p> <p> (of the)standards that are relevant to the partnership.</p> <p>That the organisation is well ran, in sound business shape and is</p> <p>unlikely to damage the partnerships future reputation.</p> <p>Active commitment from the organisations board to being part</p> <p>partnership.</p> <p>When we started we were open </p> <p>to all. We had too many partners who werent really engaged. It became too unwieldy. We would have been better off with a tighter core group. </p> <p>It is important to make clear to potential partners what is expected of them. This could include financial or time contribution, respecting business confidentiality and a willingness to share and collaborate.</p> <p> (toe)Could being in the partnership have or be perceived as having a statement of good practice. Might commissioners and funders see being in membership as reflecting good practice? If this is the case how can the partnershi...</p>

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