Project partnerships, relationships are critical

Yesterday I raised the interesting topic of delivering elements of your project or an entire project “in partnership” with another organisation.

Over the last decade partnerships and alliances have become common across many sectors. Executive management often declares such initiatives to be core to their strategies.

Forms of partnerships are seemingly ubiquitous; encompassing a variety of joint ventures, customer partnerships, supply-chain alliances, technology alliances, virtual companies, plus various forms of outsourcing.

Partnering does “appear to offer” so much, too so many. That is why countless organizations pursue them. Yet it seems the majority of partnerships fail to achieve their intended objectives. Not total failures, but missing the intended goals by varying degrees.

In 2012 Ernst & Young, a global leader in assurance, tax and advisory services, stated “the ability to create and sustain partnerships will emerge as a strategic differentiator”. Other consulting and advisory firms are depicting partnerships in the same light.

Partnering is a powerful means of enriching and elevating the services, solutions and overall value that organisations provide to their customers. Well no organization can do it all! So building relationships with organizations that have complementing capabilities is a must.

Partnering is intended to improve knowledge and capabilities, extend core competencies. But it is not all plain sailing!

Unfortunately failures are as rampant in partnerships as they are in the world of projects. With a failure rate figures as high as 70%, we are certainly not looking at isolated cases!

Many of the partnerships that stop working are due to the collaborative constitution fizzling out. Although the partnership exists it stops producing any meaningful results. They end up being a partnership in name only.

It is apparent that the relationship is key. During collaborative projects each party needs to stay mindful of each other and the relationship.

Each party in the partnership needs to be fully bought into and constantly work at commitment, trust and collaboration. It is all too easy to fall into just acting on the contractual agreement, the partnership will cease to produce any meaningful results and will jeopardize the relationship.

For project partnerships to work, each party must build the relationship and establish trust between each other. Ensuring that they both work on making the relationship sustainable, whilst growing and learning from the partnership.

In my experience, inevitable challenges and issues will arise, working through them together proves to be invaluable in solidifying the relationship.

Relationships are once again a critical component. Certainly in this area of project management the importance placed on the various relationship elements will impact the success of the partnership. Should one party neglect the other party then ongoing success of the partnership wil be short lived.

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