Partnership alignment: Harness the power of your business partners to get things done

Becoming properly aligned with your major service provider/s can be a tricky task. Partnerships where everyone has a shared understanding of each others strategy and values don’t happen automatically. So to assist in making this a reality we suggest switching the focus of your business partnerships from ‘contributions and operations’ to ‘strategy and commitment’.

Many partnerships with major service providers are governed by contracts and service level agreements that focus purely on the operational, which in turn drives all the interactions. This may have some impact on the short-term performance of the service provider, but does little for either organisation’s long-term strategic gain.

A partnership alignment strategy creates joint value and ensures everyone understands how the partnership produces ‘wins’ for each organisation, which in turn generates long-term strategic gain for both.

A partnership alignment strategy uses independent facilitators to help organisations shift from managing through operational metrics and service level agreements, to focusing on strategy, commitment and results. It is a way of developing and managing far more effective partnerships – whether that be: Alliances, suppliers, external parties, outsourced providers, interstate/overseas departments, or internal teams. 

Using independent, experienced facilitators assists you to engage, interview and hear from all parties, and the benefits include:

  1. Bringing together all parties in a structured, facilitated, tailored two day workshop to jointly agree the new alliance strategy and commitment, and
  2. Establishing a new rhythm for the alliance.

Why and when should you use a partnership alignment strategy?

This strategy is ideally used when you need to:

  • agree what you are going to achieve together
  • build long term relationships
  • improve customer experience, increase revenue, reduce costs
  • innovate and create
  • spend more time on the business and less time resolving issues
  • improve collaboration between teams
  • address key issues and identify possible solutions
  • develop partnership work plans in cross functional/cross organisational teams

Partnership alignment strategy: a case study

The situation

An Australia-wide organisation had developed their strategic program of work and was in the process of rolling out their key initiatives with a partner company. They realised that their success was largely dependent on one service provider and therefore wanted to strengthen the relationship and create a collaborative work plan to support the alliance
Right Lane Consulting (the parent company of Strategic Facilitators) was asked to help develop a partnership alliance strategy for the organisation and its partner company, building on the current relationship and identifying opportunities for collaborative improvement.

What we did

  • Met with representatives from the organisations to discuss what was working and what was not and to agree the agenda/s for the workshops
  • Interviewed and engaged all parties to ascertain a holistic view of the relationship
  • Workshop 1: led initial workshop with all parties to establish the partnership alliance strategy
  • Workshop 2: confirmed outcomes from workshop 1, agreed accountabilities for each organisation and established a scorecard to evaluate success. Importantly, we also established a process for the ongoing measurement, monitoring and review of the partnership.

The impact

  • Strengthened the relationship between the two organisations by building a shared understanding of each organisation’s strategy and values
  • Clarified how the partnership produced wins for each organisation and the joint value it creates
  • Established a set of strategic objectives to drive improvements in collaboration, customer service and operational excellence within the partnership – accelerating their speed to market
  • Developed a clear way forward through work plans associated with each strategic objective
  • Formalised a governance structure that encouraged regular and open communication to assist in the ongoing management of the partnership

Our approach is adapted from Kaplan, Norton and Rugelsjoen’s framework:

Want to know more? 

For more information please contact us below or call the office on 03 9428 8817.

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