The four stages of the process are: prepare – select – engage- sustain
There are seven steps within these stages – they provide a framework for thinking about and forming successful relationships.
Stage 1: Prepare
- 1. Deciding to Enter a Partnership
- 2. Identifying Candidates
Stage 2: Select
- 3. Selection
Stage 3: Engage
- 4. Negotiation
- 5. Implementation
Stage 4: Sustain
- 6. Ongoing Management
- 7. Completion
PDF’d diagrams of the process can be downloaded – The Relationship Stages diagram shows the four main stages and the more detailed Relationship Process Steps diagram shows the seven steps outlined below.
The notes below, for each step, list key questions to address at each step and indicates the nature of services that Taylored Solutions can offer to support you at that step.
1. Deciding to enter a Relationship
Being prepared and understanding the Strategic Context for the relationship
- Why do anything?
- What if we don’t do it?
- Are we ready? and is our whole organisation on board?
- Do we have the capability to succeed?
- What are we really looking for?
- What is the best approach for us?
- Who are our targets? are they ready?
- Have we a plan to capture value in the opportunity?
At this step, Taylored Solutions can help by facilitating your discussions and internal engagement; developing strategies and plans; providing best practise guidance.
2. Identifying Candidates
- Who do we know that would be a target? how much do we know about them?
- Who is the ‘best’ choice? What does ‘best” mean for us?
- What scope of relationship are we wanting with them?
- How many candidates do we want to select from?
At this step, Taylored Solutions can help by facilitating your discussions; helping identify and pre-assess candidates; providing best practise guidance.
*Note that these steps in the process apply to both customers and suppliers…. astute suppliers don’t just assume they’ll bid for any work going, they make choices, plans and select the customers and deals they’ll bid for!
- What methods will we use for selection? (eg EOI, RFP etc)
- What is our evaluation methodology? are there clear decision points?
- How do we find out more about them than they tell us?
- Who is our team? (evaluation or response team)
Taylored Solutions can help by leading and guiding your processes; providing bid management and support; independent selection review; facilitating any engagement with the other party.
- Have we the right team in place for negotiation? (ideally its not just lawyers!)
- Are we aligned on terms and conditions?
- Is the deal structured to allow us all to derive value?
- Do we agree on the intentions and nature of the relationship?
- Are we clear about what we’d each contribute and expect in return? (Download a free Value Exchange Table template to help you explore this question)
- Is the contract clear about service expectations?
It can be helpful at this time to start addressing the questions about whether the parties have a shared vision and understand each others expectations. This is a pre-cursor to developing a Relationship Charter.
During this negotiation and engagement, Taylored Solutions can help by supporting and coaching your team; providing independent perspectives; identifying risks or potential issues; facilitating discussions; best practise advice.
This can be a long and complex process – it may involve transitioning people, projects and physical assets.
The following questions relate to the implementation of the working relationship in a way that ensures successful outcomes. The answers should be co-developed by both parties.
- Are our Leaders clear and aligned about why they are working together?
- What is our shared story? (which we can document as our Charter)
- How will we engage to make it work? who will do what?
- What plans and joint change programmes do we need?
- How will we ensure our relationship thrives and is healthy?
- What will we measure to reflect success for all of us?
To support the implementation, Taylored Solutions can facilitate your Charter Development workshops; help develop your Engagement model; support you in developing ongoing relationship management plans. We can also provide expertise to help plan and lead any transition or capability implementation.
6. Ongoing Management
This stage is about working together and ensuring a sustainable relationship that delivers value over the longer term (or time frame intended, if the relationship is designed to be a short term only).
Questions to address together include:
- How (and how often) will we monitor Relationship Health?
- How and when will we review the Charter?
- Are the right performance measures in place to support our joint aspirations?
- Have we implemented the right governance and review forums though our Engagement model?
- Are our expectations being met?
- Are we still aligned about our relationship?
The ongoing day to day management of the relationship will ideally become a standard part of your ‘business as usual’, Taylored Solutions can support this by monitoring performance through relationship health checks and by facilitating periodic refresh session to maintain momentum and keep stakeholders engaged.
While most relationships aspire to be continually refreshed (or evergreen), that is not always achievable or desirable.
Relationships can reach a natural conclusion point, with all parties having achieved their desires (e.g. completion of a project), or they can reach a point of irreconcilable breakdown. The latter is less likely to arise if the engagement model and relationship reviews are being conducted as planned.
Should this situation arise, the questions to ask are:
- What approach is appropriate to affect the completion process?
- How is capability to be distributed?
- Will people, assets and projects need to be transitioned?
- What issues and risks do we need to (jointly and separately) manage?
- What contractual provisions will guide us? (eg re: ownership of IP)
Taylored Solutions has helped companies through the dissolution process and can provide advice and guidance as well as independent facilitation of discussions.
Contact us now to explore ideas for improving your strategic relationships, and maximise the value they deliver.
Facilitation of Workshops
Building Successful Relationships
Relationship Health Checks
Strategic Relationship Types
The Relationship Process
Bid Support and Management
Relationship Tips and Tools
Relationship Foundation Checklist [PDF]
General Business Tools and Templates