You make decisions every day that either leverage your available resources, or waste them. As a leader it’s not always easy to know which decisions will lead you to the success you desire. Dealing with multiple changing and competing priorities while constantly being bombarded with new (and sometimes conflicting) information can make it difficult to determine which partnerships require your attention and which are depleting you of valuable resources.
How will you decide which partnerships or organizations will get your valued attention and resources in 2017? If you’re struggling to answer that question, you’re not alone. Most organizations today have accumulated so many partners or key relationships that they’ve lost track of; who they are, how they’re performing, and whether or not they’re relevant to the current or future direction of the organization.
When working with organizations like yours we’ve learned that on average:
- 10% + of their existing partnerships are ineffective
- Partnership information isn’t organized or documented
- Lack structure or process for key decision making about partnerships
- Holding on to old partnerships because they’re unsure how to let go
The remedy for decreasing overwhelm, frustration and lack of clarity is to create a concise inventory of your partnerships, alliances and strategic relationships and their value. Without an inventory, it will be challenging for you to know which alliances could be most beneficial, or costly, to your business or cause.
But creating an inventory doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming. In less than 2days of time to you can determine which partnerships are most pivotal to your success, while simultaneously developing a set of criteria for making partnership decisions in the future.
Creating a comprehensive list of your partners allows you to see how they are affecting your top-line, bottom-line and everything in between.
Mapping out your organizations partnerships is as easy as creating an inventory of ingredients in your fridge or pantry. But you need to take the time to open the door and make the list. It’s a lot less scary than you might initially think, and the payoff is far greater than what you could imagine.
We recommend using a simple three-step process to conduct an expedited audit of all of your existing partnerships. This works perfectly for any organization that has less than 30 partnerships. When you use this method, you’ll end up with a comprehensive, prioritized list of your partners. You can use this list to make decisions related to: your strategic plan, your budget review, resource allocations, strategic alliances, or requests to partner on special initiatives.
There are 3 Steps to the Partnership Audit:
- Plan Your Process
- Collect The Data
- Interpret The Data
Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps and how they build on each other.
Partnership Audit Step 1: Planning Your Process
You are busy enough with everything you already have on your daily to-do-list – which is why we’ve developed these 4 criteria to help you keep the process manageable.
- Short: Don’t spend more than 60min on each partnership
- Simple: Use no more than 5 questions/data points
- Specific: Catalogue existing partnerships only
- Strategic: Prioritize partnerships that directly impact strategic priorities
Not all relationships are partnerships; partnerships are created when two or more individuals (or organizations) agree to work together towards a common goal or purpose and can range on a continuum of informal to formal. Who you call a ‘partner’ could be called a ‘relationship’ by another organization. Every organization is different.
There are many individuals and organizations that your business relies on daily. If you can’t do business without them, they are probably a partner!
Here are some ideas to help get you thinking about who might be on your partners list.
1. Board of Directors
2. Industry sector
4. Other Associations
2. Board Members
4. Professional services
|Education – Public
|Venture Capital / Private Equity
Partnership Audit Step 2: Collecting The Data
We suggest that you collect no more than 5 data points when mapping your partnerships – remember, this is an expedited audit and not a full blown evaluation. You want to get a clear picture of your most promising and problematic partnerships without digging too deep.
Here are some data points and questions we recommend to help you get started.
- The List: What are all of the current partnerships your organization is engaged in?
- Purpose: Why does the partnership exist?
- Strategic Priority: Does the partnership impact current of emerging strategic priorities>
- Performance: Is the partnership achieving its purpose?
Partnership Audit Step 3: Interpreting The Data
Interpreting the data means standing back and taking a critical look at the information you’ve gathered about your partnerships. Using your data and the partnership criteria you’ve created for your organization, you will now be able to prioritize your partnerships accordingly.
You should also be able to answer several key questions about your partnerships that will help you develop a comprehensive Partnership Strategy, such as:
- Who are your partners?
- Do your partnerships meet the 3 critical criteria for success?
- How do you know if your partnerships are performing?
- Which partnerships should be dissolved?
Having a partnership strategy is important because partnerships impact several key business practices such as:
- Strategic planning
- Partnership review
- Merger or integration
- Mandatory partnerships
- Budget review
It’s important to remember that your partners are likely assessing the added value you bring to their organizations just as much as you are doing the same for them. Do you know if they would consider you an you an investment or an expense? Do they believe they need you to accomplish their goals? Are you able to successfully adapt to their changing and competing priorities?
The expedited audit is designed to help you gather the information necessary to be able to answer these same questions about your partners.
Get the information you need to ensure you’re focusing your time and resources in the most promising partnerships.
Most organizations do not have a comprehensive or current list of their key partnerships and business relationships. This affects their ability to make complex decisions about their partnerships in a timely fashion, and it affects their ability to make strategic decisions about where to invest their organizations most precious resources (including people, time and money).
Investing less than 2-days on your initial audit (and for many it’s actually much faster) will be an investment that pays dividends as you make better decisions, faster, and with less stress. Make it easier to let go of under-performing partnerships, focus on the ones that yield better results, and accept or reject offers to join special initiatives because you have a clear process and criteria in hand.
Here’s a quick review at a glance. Now, go get started!
|Audit Data||Audit Steps||Kick-It or Keep-It?|
|1. The List
|1. Plan Your Process
2. Collect Data
3. Interpret Data
|1. Shared Purpose
2. Better Together
3. Impact on Priorities
If you’d like assistance, check out our Partnership Audit Kit.
- Posted by Enette Pauzé
- On January 16, 2017