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 (7/8) is part of a series where we look at each individual stage of the Standard in a little more depth.
BS11000 Stage 7 : Staying Together
After all the excitement of the previous stage of Creating Value, Stage 7 of BS11000 seems a little mundane but it is very much the driving force behind keeping the relationship fresh and motivated. Without this, the natural tendency is that once the novelty and initial impetus fades, everyone relaxes back to their day jobs and the relationship simply runs its course.
Stage 7 is largely about maturing the relationship to ensure that it continues to perform optimally and working towards innovation, continually improving and being as effective as possible, right to the finish line. It is important that this is driven from the top and that the joint management team regularly monitor and assess performance against the agreed measures and that these continue to align with the relationship’s objectives and drivers. A formalised structure needs to be established to gather and disseminate the right data and this does not only relate to performance improvements but equally areas such as relationship strength, trust and behaviours. The Senior Exec’s Responsible (SER)will obviously lead this process but more importantly, intervene with the support of the joint management team to initiate corrective actions where performance is falling short of expectations.
One of the key facets of BS11000 is the joint ownership and management of risk under the premise that if both parties are working towards achieving he same objective, then any potential impact, or risk to achieving this, becomes jointly owned. The joint management team must ensure that each organisation is fulfilling their responsibilities under the agreed joint risk management strategy and again, if not, intervention from senior management is required.
You will remember that during the Working Together stage (Stage 5) that much effort was required to establish the joint governance protocols for the relationship and it is important that adherence is regularly assessed and identified barriers are addressed and again, the relationship continually assesses it’s performance and pushes consistently for value creation. The senior team need to set the pace to ensure that focus groups are constantly engaged but more importantly, working on the right areas that will generate true value for the relationship, which needs to be quantifiable.
It is important that the SER’s are visible and having assessed performance against the measures and objectives of the relationship, it would be sensible to provide clear feedback to the wider team on performance, whilst outlining the positive steps or corrective actions that need to be taken to support areas that aren’t getting to the target levels set. SER’s need to remain focussed, providing pragmatic and positive commentary that is engaging and hopefully inspiring.
However …… sometimes, things don’t go to plan. Sometimes there is one partner that is more committed than the other and that may see the less committed partner, become complacent, happy to be supported by the other. Or simply, the partnership may not have been set up properly or things are just not going to plan. In common with the partnered forms of contract, BS11000 encourages a formalised Issue Resolution process that actively seeks to resolve any issue at the lowest, optimal level whilst providing a clear escalation process where this fails and in truth, if issues are being escalated, there is likely to be something more fundamentally wrong with the relationship that needs addressing. The escalation process should only be used as a last resort. If for any reason the process fails, then it may be time to review the triggers for disengagement set out in the Exit Strategy and if necessary (and hopefully regrettably), set about invoking these but it would be a mistake to use these as empty threats or to support a negotiation position, as the relationship will be significantly damaged as a result.
Hopefully and a little bit more optimistically, all does go well and as the relationship continues to mature, you will need to remind yourselves of the previously agreed terms for concluding it when it has run its course and this means dusting of the previous iterations of the drafted Exit Strategy to ensure that it is still relevant. There is likely to be some ground work required ahead of the next stage that leads to disengagement and now is the time to plan for this.
Update the Exit Plan if necessary and of course, make sure you capture any changes resulting from any of the topics above in the Relationship Management Plan so that when the nice Assessor comes along, it will be all too evident that all is in order.
The next Stage, the last formal stage concentrates on a mature approach to disengagement designed to make it a structured process where everyone feels comfortable in how the relationship has concluded. This will be addressed in more detail in the next Blog Stage 8 – Exit Strategy, so watch out for that over the next couple of weeks.
The text above sets out in very general terms the process for Stage 7 of BS11000 – ‘Staying Together’ and for ease of reference, listed below are the high level aspects that are necessary to satisfy compliance against the Standard :
- Establish process to monitor, measure and review performance in terms of outputs, risk, alignment, behaviours and trust
- Ensure on-going joint management of activities in accordance with objectives and governance
- Regularly monitor and review value creation and continual innovation
- Monitor issues related to behaviours and trust
- Maintain a clear focus on delivering agreed performance by each party
- Implement SER reviews of monitoring, measurement and performance
- Establish and maintain process for issue resolution
- Establish and maintain the joint Exit Strategy
- 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 7, BS11000, so for those considering embarking on this journey, please refer also to Clause 9 of the Standard, along with Annex A for further guidance, or alternatively drop me a line firstname.lastname@example.org .
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As always, we hope you found this of use.