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Building an effective partnership

Learning from experience.

2016 Advice Services Transition Fund, Programme of the Big Lottery Fund

(Building an effective partnership ) ( )

(Advice Services Alliance) (2) ( )

About this pack:

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.

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.

The material was commissioned by the Advice Services Alliances and produced by Alan Lawrie, ( an independent consultant.


Introduction 1

About partnerships 3

The idea 9

Getting the partnership organised 11

Planning it out 19

Roll out and delivery 25

Bidding together 29

Managing the end. 37

About partnerships

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.

Experienced voluntary sector manager.

Partnerships - the temporary suspension of mutual hostility in order to get hold of


A senior civil servant.

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

A public sector commissioning framework.

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.

A 1998, Audit Commission report, A Fruitful Partnership: Effective Partnership

Working defined partnerships as a working arrangement where the partners:

are otherwise independent bodies;

agree to co-operate to achieve a common goal;

create a process to achieve this goal;

plan and implement a jointly agreed programme, often with joint staff or resources;

share relevant information;

pool risks and rewards.

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.

Partnerships take many different forms. All of which can work but also bring their own challenges and risks. Possibilities range from:

Informal formal

An ad hoc

A common

A protocol to

A mechanism

An independent


voice to

share activities

to jointly bid

joint venture



for funds

ran by the partners

Partnerships can be very informal and ad hoc or can be very structured and formal.

Why partnerships?

Several factors are driving the push for partnerships including:

A belief by some funders and commissioners that partnership working saves money.

A belief by some funders and commissioners that more value is created by getting organisations to work together.

That services are uncoordinated, operate in isolation and duplicate effort.

That through partnership working expertise and specialisms might get shared.

That partnership working could lead to better user experience by sharing resources and having better access points and referral systems.

That by choosing to work together might avoid the negative aspects of competition.

Three starting points:

In developing a new partnership three principles are key in starting out:

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?

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.

(Building an effective partnership ) ( )

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.

Different types of partnerships.

It is possible to identify four different roles that partnerships can play:


Shared activity


Joint delivery


Use for

Organisational and

governance issues

A coordinating partnership

A coordinating partnerships main

role is to bring agencies together,

encourage communication

and liaison between agencies.


Joint planning


Usually this kind of partnership does not

require an organisational

structure or process. All it needs is

someone to agree to organise and

facilitate its meetings.

A shared activity


In this arrangement

partners stay independent but

agree to combine resources to take

on and deliver a specific project or


Running a joint campaign.

Sharing a common resource or


As the activity or project is usually for

a fixed term setting up a separate

structure is not viable or needed.

However, an agreement will be

needed on how costs and work will

be shared amongst partners. One

partner may be appointed to act as

lead body to

manage the activity.

A bidding


The partnership is

formed to bid or apply for a specific fund or contract. Rather than

bidding on their own, organisations come together to develop and

Often funders

encourage joint bids to reduce duplication.

Need to ensure that

any joint bid is allowed under the commissioners procurement rules.

The partners need to agree how to divide up the work

(Building an effective partnership ) ( )

submit one application.

and resources up if successful.

A joint delivery venture

A partnership is created so that

organisations can share resources.

The new joint venture is run by

the partners as a collaborative


To carry out a shared function

e.g. delivering staff training or

managing a shared building.

To deliver a specific programme.

Responsibilities for management,

organisation and risk needs to be

clearly agreed between partners.

A partnerships lifecycle

Partnerships often work through different stages. All of them present key challenges:

Idea Organising and planning Rollout/delivery Ending


Key issues



Developing the common purpose behind the partnership.

What unites us?

What do we want to achieve by working together?

Being clear about what is driving the partnership.

Getting a vision for the partnership that is challenging

and inspiring and also realistic. Managing different



the partnership

Firming it up agreeing how the

partnership is going to work, what model to use and deciding who is in.

Designing a robust and clear

structure for the partnership that is also flexible and open. Whos in the partnership? Agreement between partners.


the partnership

Mapping out what is needed.

Agreeing where the partnership should focus and direct its resources.

Agreeing budgets and work plans.

Moving from talking about

things to doing it.

Not over committing, or spreading resources too


Maintaining commitment and involvement of partners.

Roll out and delivery

Launching the partnership. Delivering the work plan.

Monitoring performance

Highlighting results and outcomes

Making sure things get done. Ensuring consistency across


Progress chasing, problem solving and reporting back.

Ending and renewal

Deciding to continue, close or renew and refocus.

Developing an exit or succession plan.

Evaluating progress and outcomes.

Planning the end.

Ensuring that the partnership does not just fizzle out.

Spotting future opportunities.

Reviewing and celebrating success.

Getting it to work

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:

Adequate time to prepare and plan;

That the partnership is focused on a clear need

The partnerships aims complement individual partners aims.

Strong leadership

Terms of references and other written agreements that have been discussed by and agreed to by each partner.

A clear focus on a few realistic aims.

Good project design and management skills

That the partnership has a relevant identity and brand

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

partnership needs to build in development time to work on the following:

(Building an effective partnership ) ( )

Building a shared view of want to achieve.

Developing an agreed way of managing and working.

Mapping whats needed.

Developing a realistic strategy.

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

(what we)think and be strategic.

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.

Building a common purpose:

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.

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.

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:

The next stage was to try to develop a realistic and common purpose that would be relevant to all partners.

To do this it needs to be

Challenging and also realistic

Achievable by the partnership

Fits with the work and direction of each partner.

(Building an effective partnership ) ( )

Discussion needs to focus on what links all of the individual aspirations in order to develop a purpose that create a unity of purpose.

Whats driving it?

Why create a partnership?

This exercise aims to clarify the factors that might be driving the establishment of a partnership:

Possible driver

- Why the partnership is being pushed for?

Relevance to

your situation: Low to High.


By collaborating we can deliver better services together.

Key funders and commissioners are actively encouraging or

expecting collaboration.

Partnership working could

prevent the negative elements of competition and rivalry.

We can learn from each other by

sharing experience.

The partnership might be able to

access resources we would not be able to on our own.

A partnership will give us a

common voice to influence others

(Building an effective partnership ) ( )

Whos in?

Deciding who will make up the partnership is an important task.

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.

An easy way of doing a mapping exercise is identify the following

Groups we currently work with on a regular basis.

Groups we could or should work with.

Groups that our clients or communities have regular contact with.

Groups that do similar work to us.

Groups that could be seen as potential competitors or duplicating what we do.

Some partnerships have agreed a membership criteria to decide who should be admitted to membership of the partnership. Possible criteria for membership could include:

Active commitment to the partnerships vision and values.

That the work of the organisation fits with the work

of the partnership.

(Building an effective partnership ) ( )

That the organisation has quality

(of the)standards that are relevant to the partnership.

That the organisation is well ran, in sound business shape and is

unlikely to damage the partnerships future reputation.

Active commitment from the organisations board to being part


When we started we were open

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.

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.

(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 partnership ensure that relevant measures and standards will be used

determine quality.

Some partnerships have adopted two types of membership; Full or core members who have an active involvement and a direct say in what the partnership does and associate members who may not have the need or meet the criteria to be

a full member, but wish to be kept in touch with th partnership.





Individual partner worksheet:

Use the worksheet to encourage partners to think through their engagement and expectations of a partnership. It can provide the basis of a useful discussion to share expectations, identify potential problems and build an effective working culture.

1. Why do we want to be involved in 5. What do we want to get from this this partnership? partnership?

2. How does this partnership fit with 6. What will the partnership have to our strategy and priorities? do for it to be a success for us?

3. What do we have in common with 7. What are the risks for us of being the other partners? involved in this partnership?

4. In what way are we different from 8. How can I keep my organisation in the other partners? touch with the partnership

How will the partnership work?

Partnerships can deliver their work in different ways. Here are four different ways in which a partnership can organise itself:

Lead partner model


A well established model where by one partner is appointed lead partner to manage and hold the affairs of the partnership.

Need clear role definition for lead body.

Lead partner is paid for management and admin costs.

Issue of lead partner having all the responsibility and risk.

Sub contracting model

One partner wins the contract or funding and appoints other partners to deliver elements on it on a sub- contracting basis.

Clear business like supply chain arrangement.

Is it really a partnership?

How can sub contracted

partners influence how it works?

Work is shared amongst partners.

The work is divided out amongst partners. Each partner takes on a responsibility for managing or delivering a project within the partnership.

A collective shared venture.

Needs coordinating and

monitoring to ensure partners deliver.

The partnership commissions third

parties to deliver on its behalf.

The partnership contracts out the direct delivery of the service to other agencies on its behalf. It monitors performance and progress.

Can stop the partnership from getting too involved in operational issues.

Danger of handing too much power over to contractors.

Needs strong contract

management skills and processes.

(Building an effective partnership ) ( )

The lead partner

Building a partnership around a lead body is a common approach.

At its simplest; one of the partners is appointed to the role of lead (or accountable body). The lead body agrees to use its resources and legal status to manage and organise the partnership.

(Org A Lead body Org B Org C )Commissioner

Using a lead body can offer the following advantages:

It stops organisations having to bid against each other and duplicate effort.

The partnership does not need to establish itself as a separate legal

entity the partnership is housed by the lead body.

It can allow smaller or developing organisations to be part of a programme that may not have the organisational capacity or

experience to win a bid on their own.

It means that funders and commissioners only need to have one point of contact.

Typical roles played by lead bodies in partnerships can include:



Bidding for contracts and funding

Drawing up and submitting the bid on behalf of and in consultation with the

other partners.

Holding the contract

Being the named accountable body i.e. having full responsibility for the

organisation and delivery of the contract or agreement with funders.

(Building an effective partnership ) ( )

External point of contact

Speaking on behalf of the partnership.

Convening the partnership

Organising and hosting partnership meetings.

Following up decisions

Maintaining records

Monitoring performance

Collating, verifying and reporting to

commissioner on performance.

Contract management

Managing the contract

Holding contract resources

Paying partners

Performance management

Progress chasing

Problem solving

The ways that these roles are carried out need to be discussed and agreed by all of the partners. It should be set out in a terms of reference document that outlines the powers, duties and responsibilities of the lead partner. The lead partner needs to estimate the direct costs involved in carrying out their duties. This needs to be explained to the other partners and agreed as part of the partnerships budget.

Being the lead partner can be a difficult task. A lot of the risk, management responsibility and accountability is with the lead partner. It is easy for the lead partner to over control, dominate and take over. The lead partner needs to find a way where partners feel a level of collective responsibility for the partnership and are fully engaged in developing its work.

Five problems in the lead partner model:

1. All the risks and responsibilities are with the lead partner.

As the lead partner is responsible for the governance and management of the partnership. Other partners are not ultimately responsible. The lead partner exercises control to protect their organisation.

2. The lead partner cherry picks the work.

The lead partner is in a position where it can exercise operational day to day control over the work of the partnership. In one instance a lead body had

control over the ways in which clients accessed the service. It used this to

refer clients that it wanted to work with to its staff and left harder clients to other partners.

3. The lead partner over controls

The lead partner must recognise that each partner is different and allow some room and space for individuality. Not everything needs to be done in the

same way.

4. The lead partner takes a large fee out of the budget.

The lead partner needs to be compensated for using its resources to manage and organise the partnership. In some instances lead partners have imposed high management costs that reduce the money going to the other partners and into services.

5. The lead partner subsidises the partnership.

A lead partner can end up propping up a partnership by providing resources and staff time from its organisation above and beyond what it is paid to do in the management fee.

All of these problems can be tackled and avoided. Experience suggests that the following can help:

That partners discuss, agree and record a clear role for the lead body.

This should clarify what tasks should be carried out by them and what

powers they have.

That the partnership regularly reviews the kinds of risks that could be on its horizon. Risks could include management risks, delivery risks and reputational risks. The partnership has a collective responsibility to tackle them. They cannot be abdicated to the lead partner.

That the role of the lead partner is occasionally reviewed. Indeed, some partnerships have found it useful to change lead partners after a period.

There needs to be clarity about power relations. Is the lead partner there to support and facilitate the partnership or does the lead partner need to take on a more directing role to ensure that things get done?

Firming it up

A memorandum of understanding is a useful way to set out how a partnership will be structured, organised and operate. It should be discussed by each partner and signed up to.



The agreement

Who the agreement is between (i.e. the partners). Duration of the agreement.


The overall purpose of the partnership e.g. to

develop and improve services. Describe the intended outcomes not just the activities.


The ethos and principles that should underpin the

partnership and should be signed up to by all members.


Criteria for becoming a member.

Expectation of members.

Governance arrangements

Membership of the partnership board. How decisions will be made.

Powers and duties of the partnership board.

Management arrangements

Role of lead partner (if relevant).

How the partnership will be organised.


What the partnership cannot do e.g. enter into

agreements on behalf of individual partners or making policy statements without express agreement.


How the partnership will manage any staff,

resources and finances.

Process for determining and agreeing any management costs.


How disputes between partners will be resolved.

End of the agreement

Process for bringing the partnership to an end. How to divide resources up.

Planning for success:

An established planning technique is to use a success criteria to get partners involved in thinking about what the partnership will need to do to be regarded as a success.

A simple question is posed: In three years time how will we know if this partnership has been a success?

It is useful to look at two kinds of success:

Hard success: tangible outputs, clear improvements and differences.

Soft success: changes in how people and organisations are operating and behaving.

Future success:

In three years time how will we know if this partnership has been a success?


In reviewing the results from individual partners it is worth looking for the following:

Is there an emerging shared vision about what we want to achieve from all partners?

What are the key items?

Are there any hidden agendas that need to be explored?

How will we need to work to achieve success?

(Building an effective partnership ) ( )

How will we monitor, measure and celebrate success?

From big picture to detail

A useful way to structure a partnerships plan is to work through three levels. Level 1. Overall vision

Overall Partnership Vision: Building a strong, vibrant and resilient community

Level 2. Programmes:

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Tackling debt


New skills


Active community


Safer homes

Level 3. Projects and activities

Level 1 is the partnership overall purpose and vision. It should set out a long term aspiration and provide an overarching purpose that explains the rational and reason for all that the partnership does. It is about the bigger picture. All activities should contribute to achieving the vision.

Level 2 sets out the main focus of the partnerships strategy by describing the key programme areas that the partnership will focus on. The programme areas should be described in terms of the key results or outcomes that the partnership aims to achieve. It is important not to have too many programmes as the partnership may spread itself over too many areas.

Level 3 are the projects that the partnership will commission or organise under each programme area. Projects are usually fixed term. Individual partners may be involved in some but not all projects.

In the above example, a community partnership working to turnaround a deprived and neglected estate developed four programme areas to focus on. Each programme area then went onto establish or commission projects that fitted under each programme area. For example, the programme tackling debt had four projects; a feasibility study on setting up a local credit union, a

schools project to educate young people about debt, a casework service and a campaign to warn people against loan sharks.

Once agreed resources can be allocated to each programme and in turn each project. Each programme and project needs to have a named individual responsible for its delivery.

The partnerships budget:

Partnerships can have four types of expenditure:

1. Strategic costs

2. Management costs

3. Support cost

4. Delivery costs

The strategic costs reflect the work involved in developing the partnership, planning its work and laying the basis for its future work.

The management costs are the costs incurred in governing, managing and administrating the partnership. Often this element reflects carried out by the lead partner in their role.

Support costs are costs involved in supporting the partnerships direct delivery. These could include costs of providing a base, publicity and other resources that the partnership needs.

The delivery costs are made up of all the staff time and resources involved in organising and providing services and projects for the partnerships users or communities.

Often the support costs and delivery costs are delegated to individual partners.


o The partnerships budget should be presented in a way that provides useful information such as the relationship between income and what each activity fully costs.

o The budget should be structured in a ways that reflects the partnerships strategic priorities.

o The amounts allocated to the partnerships overhead and management costs should be proportionate and reasonable.

o Each budget line should have a named person responsible for managing the budget, controlling expenditure and monitoring performance.

o The partnership should receive regular monitoring reports that set out in clear terms the budgets actual pattern of income and expenditure compared to what was predicted in the budget.

o A budget should not be regarded as being fixed in stone. The partnership should be able to amend it to meet changes in performance and new opportunities.

Ten ways of developing effective partnership plans

1. Write the plan around outcomes or results rather than an activity.

2. Dont over commit. Save some resources for opportunities that crop up in the life of the plan.

3. Go for a few quick wins. Things that can show that you have made an impact in the first phase of the partnership. A quick win make it feel

real and also raises the partnerships visibility.

4. Think about how you will present the plan. Keep it simple. Consider using charts and diagrams to show how it is structured and fits together.

5. Work out how you will measure progress against the plan. Identify some milestones (or mini outcomes) that will show that you are on track.

6. If you need to plan for a longer term period such as three years use a rolling plan:

The overall vision will remain constant for the partnerships duration.

The strategy to achieve this will be reviewed after 18


Every year we will up date the partnerships 12-month delivery plan to ensure that its relevant and takes into

account our resources.

7. Be willing to change the plan. Its a guide to action not a straightjacket.

If circumstances change or opportunities to arise revisit the plan.

8. Make sure that every action, task or commitment is clearly assigned to an individual. Things dont happen unless they are delegated.

9. Plan out the first steps for each area.

(Building an effective partnership ) ( )

10. Keep talking about. Referring to the plan and board meetings, keeping it displayed and celebrating when things in it are achieved will keep the plan alive and stop it from being just another management document.

Planning template

The partnerships plan on a page:

The overall vision for the partnership

Set out the big idea behind the

partnership? What are the

outcomes, changes and

differences that the partnership

wants to bring about?

The partnerships strategic programme

The partnerships

main strategic direction. The

partnerships main focus and


The partnerships projects and activities


partnerships outputs. What the partnership will deliver and work on order to meet the aims and overall vision.

(Building an effective partnership ) ( )

Making it happen roll out and delivery.

A critical point in the life of a partnership is when it starts to deliver activities and projects. Theres a point in any partnership where it has to stop talking about, planning and strategising and move into delivery mode.

(Building an effective partnership ) ( )

A partnership can aid this process by having

standard tools and frameworks to organise and manage the delivery process. The following six factors can assist:

Assign responsibility. Delegate the management of projects and the resources involved in them to a named individual. S/he should have the capacity to make it happen a

We spend far too much time talking about work rather than getting on and doing it.

Partnership chair

(nd the)relevant skills and expertise to manage it. S/he needs to take personal

responsibility for the activity.

Set milestones. Break a big project up into groups of tasks. Try to spot obvious milestones. Anticipate when you expect to reach the milestone. Reaching the milestone is an opportunity to take stock, review progress and plan the detail of how to get to the next milestone.

Manage expectations. Be careful not to create unrealistic expectations of what the partnership will do or provide. Dont over launch.

Agree useful measures. Think carefully about you will monitor and measure performance. Agree a few useful measures or indicators that give relevant information about your progress.

Intervene fast. If things dont happen or performance starts to slip, be prepared to raise it and act fast.

Draft work plan

Partnership programme area: Project/activity:

Expected results/outcomes:

Responsible person: Supported by: Accountable to:

Start date: Key dates: End date:

(Building an effective partnership ) ( )

Resources allocated to this activity:

Milestones: Performance measures to be reported on monthly:

Work plan - example

Partnership programme area:

Building an active and strong community.


Campaign to recruit, train and support volunteers.

Expected results/outcomes:

50 new volunteers working in community initiatives who feel supported, trained and valued.

Production of material advertising local volunteering opportunities. Better volunteer management activities in local agencies

Responsible person:


Supported by:

Contact person in each partner agency.

Accountable to:

Partnership Board.

Start date:

2nd February

Key dates:

Launch event: 18th Feb Partners mtg: 3rd Mar. Site launch: 4th Apr Volunteers celebration event: 30th Apr.

End date:

2nd June

Resources allocated to

this activity:

25% of Robs time Office admin support Budget of 5,000

Web site development costs of 2,000


Volunteers mapping survey completed

Web site and publicity material launched

First 30 potential volunteers recruited.

20 volunteers in place

Recruitment and training programme piloted and

in place.

50 volunteers in place

Performance measures

to be reported on monthly:

Number of groups involved.

Feedback from volunteers and groups

Budget spend

Number of volunteers in place.

(Building an effective partnership ) ( )

Running productive partnership meetings:

1. Avoid having a meeting for the sake of having a meeting.

2. What sort of meeting is needed? Is it to make a decision (to agree our budget) or to keep people informed (to update people on our fund raising campaign) or to brief people (to update members on changes in our funding) or to develop ideas (to generate ideas for income generation)?

3. Design the agenda. Rather than a shopping list of one word items; financepublicity Set out on the agenda a short description of the intended outcome or question for each item: To agree how we should launch our new website.

4. Be clear at the start what issues, decisions or questions you want the meeting to tackle.

5. Set out how long you expect each agenda item to take. This enables you to plan the meeting.

6. Plan the time involved. As well as a start time, meetings should have a published end time. This can focus discussion, stop the meeting

drifting and allow people to plan their own time.

7. Consider using technology Skype, video conferencing can all be useful ways of processing routine issues and keeping people in touch rather than having to hold a meeting.

8. Watch out for patterns in the meeting. Who speaks most? Who needs to brought into the discussion?

9. At the end agree what you have agreed. Summarise whats been agreed, highlight the next step, check people know what happens next and who is responsible for making it happen.

(Building an effective partnership ) ( )

10. Get a quick record of the key decisions and intended actions out to people within 24 hours. It should help implementation and build up a momentum.

Bidding together

The task of securing funding is increasingly more demanding and competitive. Funders and commissioners require organisations to make a strong business case, show that they have the relevant experience and skills in place to set up and manage a service and deliver it at the best price. Increasingly similar organisations are attracted to working together in the bidding and funding. Several factors can drive this:

Working together on a bid will encourage cooperation between organisations and avoid the negative aspects of organisations bidding against each other.

By coming together and sharing resources more might be delivered leading to better outcomes.

By being part of a bigger bid some smaller or developing organisations might be able to win funding as part of a bigger venture that they would not win on their own.

A joint venture might be able to bring into the bid specialist or niche players.

Developing a joint bid might lead to a more coordinated and connected service for users. The process of putting a bid together might lead to better service design, more access points, effective referral arrangements and a better client journey.

Formats for collaboration in bidding:

Collaboration in commissioning and bidding can take a variety of formats:

1. An influencing role:.



Partners work together to influence and inform commissioners. A partnership might focus on using their collective experience to influence commissioners to improve commissioning practice. This could include identifying gaps, commenting on draft specifications and acting as reference point for consultation with commissioners.

2. Linked bids.

(Building an effective partnership ) ( )


Partners bid independently but agree to work together. Partners submit their own bids for part of the contract, but show in the bid how their approach is part of a bigger service plan and that they are committed to work with other partners to ensure a joined up service.

3. A lead partner and sub contracting


The partners agree on a lead bidder who then shares the work out between partners. A partnership is formed and one partner agrees to submit the bid in their name but, if awarded the work will be contracted out to other partners to deliver elements of the contract.

4. A new joint venture body.

Joint venture


The partners set up a separate joint venture body to bid for and manage specific contracts. A new body is formed ran by the partners. The body bids for and manages the contract. The contract is shared out to the partners by the new joint venture.

Collaboration over bidding.

It is important that any arrangement between agencies about bidding, commissioning or joint funding bids take into account the attitude of commissioners and also the law relating to contracts and competition.

Some public commissioners, whilst supposedly encouraging collaboration have procurement rules that restrict joint working, limit sub contracting and communication between bidders.

European and UK competition laws aims to prevent activities, practices and agreements that could prevent, restrict or distort competition. Anti-competitive behaviour includes:

price fixing, i.e. bidders operating as a cartel and agreeing a minimum price;

bid rigging, such as parties agreeing to take turns in bidding;

removal of competition or limiting competition to a closed group of


It is advisable to take specialist advice to ensure that any joint venture is established in a way that is open, transparent and designed to operate in a

way that does not restrict competition or could be objected to by commissioners.

Areas for collaboration:

Some partnerships have developed processes to support and enable collaboration between partners. Such collaboration might happen at different levels:

A process to share and identify opportunities to bid.

Structures for bidding together

Arrangements for joint or shared management and delivery of a

programme or project.

Areas for agreement might include:

An overall commitment to delivering quality services that bring about valuable outcomes for users and communities.

A commitment to work in a way that is open, fair and transparent.

Recognition that each partner is independent and manages its own affairs.

The potential structures for joint bidding. This might include draft terms of references on how they would work.

Arrangements for respecting confidentiality, acknowledging conflicting interests and for sharing the work out between partners.

An agreement might also set out a process for managing joint bidding activities. Stages in a process might include:




opportunity identified.

A partner spots a potential funding or bid opportunity that

could be done on a partnership basis. Contact is made with other partners to sound out interest in working together.


opportunity evaluated.

Partners review the option against an agreed criteria (example

below) and decide if there is scope and commitment for a joint bid between some or all partners.

Bid research.

Following the partners decision work is delegated to a partner or partners to investigate and report back of:

Would a collaborative bid be acceptable or suitable?

What gains or added value could a joint bid produce?

What format would work best (e.g. lead bidder)?

The timetable for the bid and requirements of each




Each partner would have to make a clear (and quick) decision

that they wish to be part of a joint bid.

Work would be needed to draft and cost the bid, produce a model showing how the activity would be delivered and managed. All partners would need to produce background information, evidence and cost information to support the bid process. Once agreed the bid would then be submitted.

Bid evaluation

Once the outcome of the bid is known the partners should review the process.

A possible criteria for deciding to bid jointly:

o The intended venture fits with all of the partners constitutional aims and area of benefit

o That a collaborative bid would lead to better services and better outcomes.

o It would not create an unnecessary or disproportionate level of overhead cost or structure.

o It is compatible with our values, ethos and working principles.

o It would not restrict partners ability to operate independently in the future.

o That the risks involved are reasonable and can be justified.


The time factor involved in joint bidding needs to be recognised. Often bids have to be produced to a short timetable. Partners need to be able to process issues quickly and keep to a tight deadline.

Partners need to be able to work in a way that is open, honest and business like. The process of putting the bid together needs to be tightly managed and will rely upon each partner contributing information and data. If a partnership cant produce a bid then it is unlikely to be able to manage a share service.

Partners must agree to respect business confidentiality about each other.

In a collaborative venture there may be conflicts of interests that need addressing. At some point partners must make a clear decision that they are

on board and are part of the joint venture. The alternatives to being in are to bid independently or not to bid at all.

Usually in a bidding exercise there is a stage called the pre-qualification questionnaire (pqq), where bidders must show that they have the necessary

experience and business competence to deliver the service. It is important to establish if the commissioner will expect all bidders to go through the pqq process or just the lead bidder.

A joint bid will need to show how the service will be operate and be managed. Commissioners need to be satisfied that roles are clear, responsibilities are assigned and that possible risks have been tackled. There needs to be an agreement to work in a consistent way by all partners.

The work involved in a joint bid needs to be recognised and shared out. In some instances it may be necessary for other partners to share out the costs involved in researching and managing the bid. At the very least a time log should be kept to show that work done and how it was shared out amongst partners.

Reviewing the partnership levels of engagement.

This exercise is a useful way of checking on individual partners level of involvement and engagement in the partnership.

Where would you put each partner?

A member,

Only in it


Vocal, but

Gives time


but not

for what

but not


for longer



they can



term gain


get out


Action plan:


Strategies and tactics

A member but not involved

The organisation is technically in membership of the partnership, but is not involved.

Should they leave the partnership or can they be


Only in it for

what they can get out

The partner is only involved when there

is a direct benefit (usually funding) for their organisation. They contribute little.

Need to get people

to recognise that the partnership isnt a quick win.

Attends but not much


The partner is very passive. They say little, have little to offer to the

partnerships development, but keep turning up.

Find a way for them to contribute more.

Vocal, but avoids work

This partner has a lot to say, can be quite critical, but is very reluctant to take

on responsibility or tasks.

Review ways of working and how

work is shared.

Gives time for longer

term gain

This partner is prepared to invest their time in the partnership in the belief that

it will lead to better services.

Ensure that they are kept informed of



leadership role

This partner plays a crucial role in

coordinating and shaping the partnership. They take responsibility for it and see being involved in the partnership as a strategic priority for

their organisation.

Ensure that they

dont take all the work on and that the organisation remains committed.

Draft partnership review exercise.

Using this format on a regular basis (every two months) can help to review progress and focus the partnership on future action.

Issue to review

Assessment: 1

(serious concern) to 4 (doing well).

Action to take.

1. What impact are making?

Outcomes delivered?

Plan on track?

2. Feedback what do people think of us?



3. How are we working as a partnership?

Clear roles?

Do our processes work?

4. Partner engagement?

Are partners engaged?

Fair share of work?

5. Business performance?

Budget on track?

Funders happy?

6. Our profile?

External relationships?

Contact with stakeholders?

Whats on the horizon for us

New opportunities and ideas to work on

(Building an effective partnership ) ( )

Managing disputes in a partnership.

Disputes within a partnership can be time-consuming, expensive and unpleasant. If unresolved they can destroy partner relationships and damage the ability of the partnership to meet its plan. They can also damage the credibility and reputation of the partnership as a whole and that of individual partners. Examples of disputes include:

A disagreement about a decision or action of the lead partner.

A failure of one partner to deliver or meet an obligation.

A disagreement with the decision or actions of a partner.

Often disputes occur because the partnership has not spent enough time clarifying objectives, expectations and ways of working. A partnership dispute process should provide a structure for quickly resolving and managing disputes that might emerge. The dispute procedure should be a part of the partnerships memorandum of agreement.

Outline procedure:




Any partner can formally record a dispute and ask for it to be

resolved through the dispute procedure by writing to the Chair of the partnership board. The partner should give details of their disagreement and also indicate what actions they would require to remedy the situation.


The chair of the partnership will convene a partnership board meeting within 21 days to resolve the matter.


If the partnership board is unable to resolve the matter to the satisfaction of all parties it will appoint a panel of up to three

members to review the matter and suggest a resolution. The panel will meet within 14 days of the board and will report

back to the board.


If the panel is unable to reach a settlement the board can:

Take no further action and let the matter lie.

Appoint a conciliator to broker a solution and make a recommendation.

Appoint an arbitrator to hear from all relevant parties and make a ruling on it.

(Building an effective partnership ) ( )

Managing disputes and disagreement in a partnership.

An important principle of partnership working is that although partners need to be committed to an overall vision they can still have their own approach and manage their own affairs. Working in a partnership does not mean everyone has to be the same.

The partnership agreement might want to include an expectation that all partners should respect the confidentiality of the business of the partnership and an agreement to carry on the work of the partnership as it was before the disagreement was recorded.

Managing the end

Many partnerships are set up for a fixed term focus. This could be linked to a specific funding stream or that the partnership is established to bring about a fixed term focus on an issue or problem.

Managing a fixed term partnership does require a level of discipline. Done badly the partnership can end abruptly leaving work uncompleted and expectations unmet. Partnerships that intend only to have a fixed term life or that a structured around a fixed term fund need to think carefully about how they manage the end stages of the partnership. Four strategies are possible:

1. Aim to carry under a different model.

This usually involves finding a new funder or a new income stream prepared to support the partnership and provide some continuation


2. Close down the partnership in a planned way.

A close down plan would involve ensuring that all work is completed, that business arrangements are properly concluded and that people who have a stake in the partnership are informed and ready for it.

3. Scale down in case other opportunities arise.

The partnership may decide to continue as a liaison and coordinating body so that if other opportunities or funding streams become available

the partnership is ready to respond.

4. Move into a new phase as a partnership with a new focus and model.

The partnership might decide to use the end as an opportunity to refocus and develop a new strategy, profile and focus.

In managing the end of a partnership five factors need attention:

Start early. A fixed term partnership needs to ensure that all of its work can be delivered within the available time and that it has a clear exit strategy agreed. This needs to be planned from the start.

Identify the legacy. What will continue after the partnership? What support will the outcomes the partnership creates need to be sustained?

Managed closure. Make sure all contractual matters are properly planned and organised. How will resources and intellectual properties developed by the partnership be allocated?

Learn. How can the partnership record and explain what it has learned so that others may benefit. Good evaluation should assist this.

End on a high point. Closing a fixed term partnership does not mean failure. A good earning should be an opportunity to showcase achievements and celebrate the outcomes.


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