With the public sector asking for more from their outsourcers, providers are having to find new ways of working together to bid for projects. Here are some top tips on working effectively with your partner once you’ve won a contract
1. Use the transition to reboot your relationship at a senior level
Shifting from “bid mode” to “delivery mode” brings with it a number of changes: to the team structure, the activities and often the location of the team. Use the opportunity to have a full and frank conversation. Ask yourselves the challenging questions looking back at the bid phase: what went well? What went less well? What are the lessons for the delivery phase? What do you need each other to do differently for the delivery phase to succeed? And, looking forwards, ask yourselves the challenging questions about what being delivery partners means in practice: Who faces off to whom? How will you manage the client? How will you deal with disagreements? Don’t be afraid to plan for things that might go wrong and how you’ll deal with them – they will. The best partnerships survive because they can work through things that go wrong.
2. Continue to invest in the joint team
During the bid phase, your teams will have worked together. They will have shared the excitement of the development stage, the frustrations of negotiations, and the glory of being a member of the winning team. It’s crucial to continue this team spirit into the delivery phase; after all, it’s the people in organisation who will ultimately make the contract a success. As with building any team, developing a shared view of what success looks like and how the team should work together will form a solid foundation. All the conversations you’ve had at a senior level about your ways of working are similarly useful to have at a more operational level. And remember that building a joint team is a process, not an event, and one that requires regular investment.
3. Build in regular performance and contract reviews
Partnerships are most likely to come under pressure when one partner feels the other is reneging on the deal, whether as part of a formal contract or an informal understanding. This is particularly true around performance and / or delivering contractual obligations. Planning out a series of milestones with target performance levels can set expectations and focus each partner to deliver their responsibilities. Building in a regular review of performance and contracts will give both sides an opportunity to raise any issues or risks arising with the delivery of the service. If something or someone is not working as they’re meant to, it’s crucial to be able to communicate openly and honestly about problems and work to solve them together. Rather than letting a problem drag on, nipping it in the bud is much better for the long-term relationship. A regular review provides the space to do so. By investing in your relationship, the team, and regularly reviewing performance, you will lay the groundwork for a successful partnership.