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Collaboration is key - British Standard 11000

by Paul Corrall

The publication of the British Standard (BS) 11000 last month is a landmark for the world of business. It is the world’s first standard for collaborative business relationships and rather than representing a one-size solution for all it provides a consistent framework that can be scaled and adapted to meet particular business needs.

As part of the NOA’s commitment to collaboration between organisations, it has been working alongside a range of other industry associations with the British Standards Institution (BSI) to create an industry standard aimed at supporting collaborative business partnering.

The framework comprises methodologies supported by a wide range of tools and guides which have been established over some 20 years experience in relationship management.

In February 2010, Adrian Quayle, NOA Board Member, took on the responsibility, on behalf on the NOA Board, of representing the outsourcing industry on the BSI panel and contributed throughout the development of the Draft Standard to its final version for publication. To ensure the widest representation from the outsourcing industry, Adrian set up a Special Interest Group (SIG) involving all sectors including service recipient customers, service providers, and third party advisers.

Working with the SIG members Adrian provided and co-ordinated the delivery of the wide range of industry best practice contributions to enhance the Draft Standard.

Adrian said: “The broad aim of the standard is to support organisations across all industry sectors to participate in successful collaborative relationships by establishing a framework which allows those organisations to incorporate industry good practice in their approach to working with other parties.  The standard has been designed to establish a consistent framework that can be applied by organisations of all sizes, and to highlight the key areas which all companies should address, allowing them to benchmark standards in specific areas.

“The benefits of collaboration are clear: it allows organisations to share best practice and skills, enabling them to really get under the skin of their relationships in order to provide greater value.  Only by working together can real benefits be drawn from business relationships.”

The BS 11000 aims to complete this objective through the promotion of five key activities.

• Ongoing management, monitor and measure the relationship
• Continual innovation
• Maintenance of behaviours and trust
• Management of delivery and performance
• Management of issue resolution and monitoring of joint exit strategy

The standard is the brainchild of Partnership Sourcing Limited (PSL) - a self-financing not-for-profit organisation which helps organisations of all sizes, in both the public and private sectors, to build and develop effective competitive business relationships based upon a collaborative approach. PSL’s operations director, David Hawkins commented: “Venturing into the world of collaboration can be one of the most exhilarating and ultimately rewarding aspects of business.

“Collaboration offers the opportunity to share the flow of knowledge and experience between individuals and organisations. Moreover, it gives organisations an excellent opportunity to establish an open dialogue to generate positive changes to the dynamics of how the organisations work together to deliver benefit and add value.”

The NOA believe that the recent public spending cuts could fuel a surge in public sector outsourcing with many government departments outsourcing services which are not core to their business. Large integrated companies will be able to offer public savings by offering just one point of contact instead of many and companies with a broad range of services should be able to adapt easily to meet specific demands.

It is vital that there is some guidance for the way in which public organisations can develop their relationships with the private sector. Outsourcing may be a new way of working for many in this sector and unless great care is taken in maintaining and working on the collaborative relationship, neglect can build the foundations for failure.

The BS 11000 offers significant opportunities to support the implementation of more effective collaborative working between these sectors and enhance the operation of existing business activities to provide an improved relationship that adds value to the parties involved.

In addition, the NOA’s life cycle also outlines four steps to ensure collaborative success: strategic leadership, relationship engagement, transition and change and relationship management.  Each step of the lifecycle is concerned with making sure that all the necessary activities are carried out to build and maintain a successful outsourcing deal.

Experience from those outsourcing deals that fail demonstrates that where short cuts are taken and key activities are omitted, problems start to arise. Examples include the failure on the service recipient client side to establish an effective internal management team, or the service provider failing to deliver the service that was promised in the sales process and the contract.

Although the standard was published in October, BS 11000 will receive a formal launch at the House of Lords on 7th December. Part 2 of the guidance is currently a work in progress and will be published early 2011.


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