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An overview of BS11000 Stage 5 : Working Together

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 (5/8) is part of a series where we look at each individual stage of the Standard in a little more depth.

BS11000 Stage 5 : Working Together

In theory, we are now collaborating ! Well in truth, we will have done a bit of collaborating to get to this point but Stage 5 is really about setting the right environment for joint-working and to do this there must be agreement in a common approach to how you physically work together, through common process and sharing of responsibility, in summary you need to establish a collaborative Governance regime.

Governance has to start from the top and it is important that the Senior Execs Responsible (SER)and Joint Management Team agree the correct organisational structure to provide the strongest collaborative team to focus on delivering the joint objectives.

This might entail people’s roles and responsibilities changing and this needs to be clearly explained to all what their function is in the partnership and equally, it is important to set effective measures to benchmark the success of the partnership against the determined joint objectives. The temptation will be to revert back to old habits and duplicate roles but to be successful, you need to eradicate the old habits of man-marking and create a holistic team. This in itself is perhaps the most complex element of establishing the relationship and working together.

Each organisation will have existing procedures and process and these will differ but you will need to reach a common understanding on how the partnership will function, through a joint process management review. Underpinning these will be the Contracting arrangements and these need to be appropriate for the relationship and actively  encourage collaboration, so choose wisely.

5-working-together1-187x300There are also other key areas that need to be considered and these should be established as early as possible. What information or ‘knowledge’ are you prepared to share with your partner? Just because you are collaborating does not mean that you have to give away your trade secrets but this should be established at the outset and once agreed, no moving of goal posts as this will undermine trust. Establish a Joint Knowledge Map and management process, clearly defining what each party will or won’t share but remember, this is collaboration so don’t put a blanket restriction across the board as one of the advantages of working together is to harness the best thinking of both organisations, sparking off each other to create greater knowledge.

With a new team it is also important that everyone is clear of their role, kept informed and engaged. Communication is the key but it would be easy to send out mixed messages (internally and externally) or miss people out completely and cause them to become dis-interested. To this end, a clear Communication Strategy is necessary, it needs to establish who needs to know what sort of information and how best to communicate this, using the various mediums available nowadays. Again, a temptation would be to bombard everyone with everything and this will fail. A more sophisticated approach is required to ensure the right people, get the right information.

One of the key facets of collaboration is the approach taken to managing risk. Traditionally, a project would draft a Risk Register and risk would be allocated to different parties and seldom equitably shared. The approach under BS11000 is more mature – both parties now share the same objectives and as a consequence the identified risks, impact on achieving these joint objectives, effectively creating joint risks. A Joint Risk Management process encourages all parties to manage the risks together because of the shared carrot dangling in front of them.

Towards the beginning of this piece, we mentioned establishing performance measurement criteria and it is important that we don’t assume that improvements will happen simply because we are ‘collaborating’. Obviously, there are benefits to working together but the point of sharing skills is to use the best of these to make the improvements happen, so specific plans to achieve the measures are necessary along with an on-going process to stimulate continual improvement. To encourage these, it is important that regular updates are fed back to SER’s via the Joint Management Team and that audits are undertaken and where appropriate any lack of impetus, challenged. Audits should also check the health of the relationship, as well as attitude and behaviours of the team to ensure that people are not losing sight of the principles that are behind the Partnership in the first place.

I did warn you that this was a complex Stage.

However, we are pretty much done for Stage 5 but for those of you that have been following these blogs, you will recognise that there is one particular piece of the puzzle missing ………………………… update your Relationship Management Plan to reflect the changes and progress in the relationship.

The next Stage, starts to focus on really making the relationship work as intended, to create joint value and give you an edge over your peers and for those interested, this will be specifically dealt with in the next Blog Stage 6 – Value Creation, so watch out for that over the next couple of weeks.

The text above sets out in very general terms the process for Stage 5 of BS11000 – ‘Working Together’ and for ease of reference, listed below are the high level aspects that are necessary to satisfy compliance against the Standard :

  • Identify the SERs for each organization to support the joint programme
  • Validate the key objectives of the collaboration and establish the core principles of the collaboration
  • Undertake a competency appraisal and appoint leadership
  • Establish a joint management team
  • Review the joint objectives and establish effective measurements
  • Define the primary roles and responsibilities for the team
  • Establish a joint knowledge management plan
  • Establish and maintain effective communications management across all stakeholders
  • Establish and document joint risk management processes including joint risk register
  • Undertake a joint business process review and implement operational process improvements as appropriate
  • Jointly establish the appropriate contracting arrangements which should support the collaboration
  • Implement plans for delivery and performance against agreed objectives
  • Measure, monitor and regularly review to ensure performance is maintained
  • Undertake internal audits at planned intervals to ensure collaborative processes remain effective
  • Implement preventative and corrective actions as appropriate
  • Update relationship management plan to create a joint management platform to align with joint objectives
  • Update Relationship Management Plan

Much of compliance against BS11000 is being able to evidence the points above and it is simpler to instil the importance of this during each stage rather than retrospectively; so encourage your implementation team to keep the progressive file structure up to date.  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 5 BS11000, so for those considering embarking on this journey, please refer also to Clause 7 of the Standard, along with Annex A for further guidance, or alternatively drop me a line .

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Collaborative working and BS11000

As always, I hope you found this of use.

Tim Fitch

Tim Fitch has extensive civil engineering leadership experience, gained particularly in the geotechnical and rail sectors, where he has helped niche businesses become market leaders, and quadrupled turnover in Taylor Woodrow’s rail division.

With a strong background in business development, Tim spearheaded growth at Vinci’s civil engineering division, deploying customer relationship and pipeline management techniques to grow the company’s work in the transport and energy sectors.

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