BS11000, the British Standard for Collaborative Business Relationships is the first of its type in the world to formalise how organisations approach mutual relationships and this Blog (3/8) is part of a series where we look at each stage in a little more depth.
BS11000 Stage 3 : Internal Assessment
The last piece to the initial Strategic Phase of the Standard is Stage 3: Internal Assessment. You’ll be pleased to learn that this about getting to know your colleagues from the outside and doesn’t involve any intimate examination. It is however, a very important Stage and is designed to help a business understand whether they are ready to engage in a collaborative arrangement. This is easier said than done and it might be that everyone agrees that collaboration is a good idea but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the necessary skillsets are in place, particularly as we are still engrossed in commercially challenging trading conditions which often tend to promote adversarial behaviour.
So to help you through this, a business will need to establish policy and process to manage collaboration – this doesn’t mean chucking your existing Procedures in the bin but they should be reviewed and refined where necessary, to support a collaborative way of operating. This may need some additional bridging Procedures to be drafted to adapt process to actively create the right environment for a partnership but remember, you are likely to retain some traditional relationships so consider the impact on these too. In order to assist this, an organisation will need establish a Collaborative Profile to make sure this fits with your market and possible partners – you will need to understand if there are blockers along with strengths and weaknesses across the business and plan to address these in turn.
As previously noted in the first Blog in this series, in Stage 1 there needs to Executive Support and Collaborative Leadership is critical to success – leadership needs to have the right attributes, believe in collaboration and have sufficient influence to take people on a journey with them. Do you have the right figurehead to lead a collaborative approach ? BS11000 Annex C provides a guide for the type of attributes you would expect to see and it may mean that some areas need improving through training or better understanding. The same will apply with all staff that will interface with your potential partner(s) and it is wise to undertake a collaborative skills gap analysis and support your team with the necessary training and development to bridge any gaps – remember, this is all about providing the best platform to make collaboration a success. It is important that the exec support is also maintained and you may remember that one of the first steps in Stage 1 is to appoint a Senior Executive Responsible (SER) and this individual must remain in touch with the progress and undertake regular SER reviews that are visible to the team and there should be reference and updating against the initial Action Plan(s).
However, in order to work collaboratively, you need someone to do this with and a structured Partner Selection is an important aspect. Stage 3 encourages an organisation to really consider the aspects of the organisation that you want to form an association with and a structured Partner Selection Criteria will help inform whether they have the correct approach to make collaboration a success. Usual assessment of other businesses involves looking at their financials, track record, quality, performance and processes etc and these are still important but equally you will need to understand the softer issues about their culture and approach towards formal relationships. It would be wrong to assume that Joe Blogs and his band of workers have the right mind-set, even if they have worked for you for years. A partnership is just that and should be equal. If you blunder into a relationship you might find that one partner does all the legwork whilst the other is along for the ride and you will not truly benefit from the innovative thinking and value creation that should be encouraged as the partnership grows.
In the next Phase, Stage 4 addresses the structured approach to the identification and assessment prior to engaging with a potential partner but this Stage sets out expectations and provides a clear picture of what you should be aiming for.
The text above sets out in very general terms the process for Stage 3 – ‘Internal Assessment’ of BS11000 and for ease of reference, listed below are the aspects that are necessary to satisfy compliance against the Standard :
Establish policies and processes to manage collaboration
- Undertake an internal assessment to identify potential constraints and periodically review
- Establish a collaborative profile and monitor effectiveness
- Appoint collaborative leadership which is competent in collaborative working
- Establish partner selection criteria
- Identify the level of knowledge and skills that exist and suitable staff development or recruitment
- Establish internal action plan and undertake regular reviews to ensure suitability and effectiveness of collaborative approaches
- Update the relationship management plan to incorporate output of internal assessments
Much of compliance against BS11000 is being able to evidence the points above and it is much simpler to instil the importance of this during the initial stages; so ensure that a progressive file structure is created from the outset. Documentation should be formally controlled.
In a brief Blog such as this, it is not possible to set out all of the requirements to ensure compliance against Stage 3 BS11000, so for those considering embarking on this journey, please refer also to Clause 5 of the Standard, along with Annex A for further guidance, or alternatively drop me a line firstname.lastname@example.org .
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Again, I hope you found this of use.