Last week we introduced the concept of strategic partnerships and PPPs as a model for organisational development.
Today we suggest what we will call the GGF Top 10 Factors to consider as you lead your institution into a new strategic partnership.
- Understand the strategic gap – Not all strategic gaps can be solved by entering into partnerships.
Take the time to evaluate the hurdles responsible for arresting organisational development, and explore alternative solutions. Should this gap analysis conclude that collaborations or partnerships could be relevant solutions to address the identified gaps, then read on.
- Determine the rationale for partnership – A strategic partner can provide you with capital, access to new markets, support your product development, strengthen your brand equity, offer technical skills or technology platforms that increase your competitiveness, while transferring skills to your own teams over time. What is your rationale?
- Set clear goals for the partnership -Defining clear goals for the proposed partnership is an essential step. It may seem somewhat obvious, but too many transactions get underway before the two parties have taken time to establish transaction motive at two levels, viz:
(a) why for themselves, there would be need or value in the proposed partnership; and
(b) for the counter-party institution, the true reasons why they might want the partnership.
Studies on PPP collaborations agree that successful partnerships must “align the prospective partners’ disparate interests and seek to reach consensus in their strategic priorities”, particularly where public-sector objectives conflict with profit objectives. Goal alignment must be secured before the partners commit to their roles.
- Decide the form of the partnership – Strategic Partnerships can take the form of joint ventures, concessions, capital subscriptions, or alliances. Decide which form of collaboration best suits the goals established for all parties.
- Know Your Partner – In the process of building a strategic partnership, perhaps the most critical imperative is that you obtain a deep understanding of who your prospective partner(s) is.
Do not hesitate to commission a comprehensive legal and financial due diligence at an early stage. While you are at it, establish their track record.
Don’t be shy, if they are worth their proverbial “salt”, they would be doing the same in respect of your enterprise
- Establish mutual synergy value – Establish chemistry with your prospective partner. Like any relationship, it has to feel right. And typically, it will feel right if there are sufficient mutual business benefits arising from the collaboration to motivate the partners to be at their best.
- Consult stakeholders from both sides – Deal with unexpected changes and possible sources of resistance by keeping the interests and concerns of all stakeholders in sights. Schedule regular interactions with employee representatives, regulators, shareholders and other stakeholders.
Public engagement is also key. A number of ventures (eg mining of diamonds in Marange) remain controversial in Zimbabwe, particularly because of inadequate public consultations. K. Button (2014) asserts that, public input can better shape partnership arrangements if it is taken seriously, and goes beyond the public hearings that are commonly required by statute.
- Negotiate terms and execute contracts – Clearly articulate your unique competencies, intellectual property, and sources of sustainable competitive advantage; and keep your best team and your transaction advisors handy to facilitate the negotiation of the transaction.
Draft and execute contracts outlining the rules of the partnership. Take your time to subject the contracts to independent legal opinion before you execute.
This stage hardly takes a couple of days, but it’s a pause worth taking. Its important for a fresh eye to take a look before committing to what will probably be a long-term relationship.
- Undertake consistent monitoring & evaluation – There is growing pressure for institutions to improve the monitoring and evaluation of strategic partnerships and PPPs.
A sound monitoring and evaluation framework facilitates the implementation of plans, and attainment of goals by the strategic partnerships through regular assessment and measurement of results (and impact) over time.
- Do your research (and keep your advisor handy) – The Globe & Mail and other experts like Chris Eben (2014) write eloquently about other considerations that leaders must make in the process of forging strategic collaborations. Our general advice today: “Leader, take the time to do a little research before you embark on a critical transaction.”
This article was compiled by Felix Kumirai and Rufaro Mhuka, transformational strategists and resource mobilisation consultants at GENESIS GLOBAL FINANCE. The contents herein are for information purposes only, and GGF does not accept responsibility for any loss arising from the use of materials or opinions contained in this article.