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Benefits and risks of collaborative working

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How to ensure your collaboration is a success

Collaborative working is not right for every organisation in every case. Carefully identifying and addressing issues of concern helps establish if collaboration is the right way forward (see Should you collaborate?)

Potential benefits

  • New or improved services
  • Wider geographical reach or access to new beneficiary groups
  • More integrated or co-ordinated approach to beneficiary needs
  • Financial savings and better use of existing resources
  • Knowledge, good practice and information sharing
  • Sharing the risk in new and untested projects
  • Capacity to replicate success
  • Stronger, united voice
  • Better co-ordination of organisations' activities
  • Competitive advantage
  • Mutual support between organisations

Ultimately collaborative working should enable you better to meet your beneficiaries' needs.

Potential risks

  • Outcomes do not justify the time and resources invested
  • Loss of flexibility in working practices
  • Complexity in decision-making and loss of autonomy
  • Diverting energy and resources away from core aims - mission drift
  • Damage to or dilution of your brand and reputation
  • Damage to organisation and waste of resouces if collaboration is unsuccessful
  • Lack of awareness of legal obligations
  • Stakeholder confusion

Key obstacles to a successful collaboration

  • Personalities
  • Competition between partners
  • Lack of information and experience
  • Lack of resources, especially at decision-making stage
  • Resistance to change
  • Cultural mismatch between organisations
  • Lack of consistency and clarity on roles and responsibilities

Things that can help overcome challenges

  • Good personal relationships
  • Compatible cultures or an understanding of different cultures
  • Written agreements
  • Experience of change management, leadership and vision
  • Clear and agreed mutual benefits and collaborative advantage
  • A focus on the big picture
  • Careful planning
  • ICT tools
Page last edited Jun 23, 2017

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