BS11000 Collaborative business relationships
British Standard BS11000 Collaborative Business Relationships, is the first standard of its type in the world to formalise how organisations should approach mutual relationships. It strives to optimise the benefits of joint working, with specific phases, looking to refine processes, reduce duplication and address the creation of additional value.
In the UK construction industry post the Latham Report, partnering and the PPC2000 contract attempted to introduce this philosophy, but it often fell short of generating the promised benefits. Enthusiasm was already fading when the 2008 economic downturn saw a return to lowest-cost bidding and wasteful adversarial behaviours, and a shift back to JCT Contracts. Consequently, some businesses have sought a more effective approach to delivering projects.
Phase 1 - Establishing the organisation's commitment and capabilities, laying the foundations through:
- Internal assessment.
Phase 2 – Identifying and working with fully committed partners by:
- Partner selection.
- Working together, ie: establishing and optimising a joint approach and working framework.
- Value creation. Significantly, BS11000 actively promotes additional value creation through a constant push for innovation and development, which are consistently reviewed.
Phase 3 – Managing and maintaining the relationship and ending it on good terms:
- Staying together.
- Exit strategy, ie: the managed conclusion of the relationship: ensuring a smooth transition for the client, whilst looking at future joint work opportunities.
 Stage 1 : Awareness
Stage 1 is the process of moving from aspiration into action. Many organisations appreciate the significant benefits associated with collaborative working but approach their relationships in a non-structured manner. Stage 1 enables a business to commit to exploring the value of collaboration and, more importantly, to secure high-level internal sponsorship from senior executives to make it happen.
Once internal support is secured, organisation need to test the value of collaborative working by ensuring that strategic business objectives are identified and the potential value of collaboration is defined, as well as considering any associated potential risk. This will require continued review as the process develops.
Assuming that all involved are still enthused at the prospect of collaboration, potential relationships and specific opportunities need to be identified and prioritised, remembering that not all relationships need to be fully collaborative and indeed some should remain solely transactional. Clear measurable procedures are defined for assessing these relationships.
Engaged staff will start drafting implementation plans for each of the identified relationships and opportunities. Appropriate corporate governance policies and procedures are also needed, along with processes to assess the competencies and behaviours required to support a collaborative approach.
Some organisations already familiar with BS11000 have developed a Relationship Management Plan (RMP) to provide the 'collaborative heartbeat' to a successful relationship. It may start as a Corporate RMP (CRMP) setting out an organisation’s plan, before evolving to a more focussed Project RMP (PRMP), and then develop to mutually accommodate the views and working practice of potential partners, becoming Joint Project Relationship Management Plan (JPRMP).
The aspects necessary to formally document and satisfy compliance with the standard are:
- Formal appointment of a Senior Executive Responsible (SER) for development and implementation of collaborative business relationship management.
- Set out and define collaborative working policy, including a commitment to continual improvement and ensure that this is effectively communicated.
- Identify strategic business objectives.
- Identify potential value of working collaboratively.
- Identify all significant relationships and then segregate and prioritise these and the potential (or actual) opportunities, and then prepare implementation plans for collaborative working where appropriate.
- Review existing policy and procedures and modify where necessary to support collaborative working, competencies and behaviours.
- Draft and implement initial general and relationship-specific risk assessment and mitigation plans for potential collaborative relationships.
- Prepare initial [Corporate] Relationship Management Plan for on-going development.
 Stage 2: Knowledge
Part of the initial strategic phase of the BS11000, Stage 2 continues the process of understanding the potential benefits of a formalised collaborative approach. It focuses on setting out a business strategy for a potential collaborative arrangement, setting out objectives, operating models, benefits and value analysis and identifying potential collaborative relationships.
Objectives and drivers that sit behind these objectives will probably vary for different relationships. For example, one objective may be long-term secured work, but this could encompass secured turnover, profitability or the need to provide a platform to recruit or invest in staff development or even specific research, or process refinement.
Having established the rationale, the next step is to identify and review suitable partners with high potential to benefit from working collaboratively.
Embedding collaborative practice may well impact on the day-to-day business operations, so an implementation plan is necessary. Key individuals' roles, responsibilities, skills and levels of authority will need to be identified, ideally through a competency review, which may also identify shortfalls in capability and associated training needs.
Efficient collaboration will improve the flow and transfer of knowledge, so it is important to put in place mechanisms to accommodate this and to encourage creative thinking. A knowledge map will help track information to be shared and process needs, identifying what information is shared or withheld with which parties or individuals.
Any mature business should apply a risk management process, and this sits at the very heart of BS11000. Organisations need to be clear about how specific risks and opportunities are managed, and have clear processes to mitigate the risk and optimise the potential, while clarifying ownership.
These steps form the skeleton of an implementation plan, and once completed, need to be communicated to various stakeholders before updating the Relationship Management Plan.
The aspects necessary to formally document and satisfy compliance with the standard are:
- Establish the objectives and key drivers for each collaborative opportunity and evaluate if collaboration is appropriate.
- Identify the experience, skills and competencies of individuals that will be involved in any collaborative initiative.
- Establish a procedure to capture, create and manage knowledge within collaborative relationships.
- Establish guidelines for sharing knowledge between organisations.
- Establish procedures for developing a strategy and business case for each opportunity.
- Identify and document objectives of each collaborative relationship.
- Analyse the market sector, customer base, requirements and expectations of customers.
- Evaluate value of the relationship in the context of the overall business objectives.
- Identify potential collaborative organisations against the specific opportunities.
- Develop an initial exit strategy assessment.
- Integrate relationship management into risk management policy and processes.
- Identify and assess internal issues which could result in significant risks to performance.
- Undertake a business impact assessment relative to collaborative working.
- Consider the implications on sustainability within the context of collaborative risk management.
- Establish that each identified risk is appropriately assigned for resolution or mitigation.
- Establish and regularly review the implementation plan and maintain the relationship management plan.
 Stage 3: Internal Assessment
The last part of the initial strategic phase of BS11000 is 'internal assessment', which is designed to help a business understand whether they are ready to engage in a collaborative arrangement.
A business will need to establish policies and processes to manage collaboration, perhaps reviewing, refining and, where necessary, replacing existing approaches to support a collaborative way of operating.
To help with this, an organisation should establish a 'collaborative profile' to ensure a fit with the its market and possible partners, helping identify blockers along with strengths and weaknesses across the business.
As with stage 1, executive support and collaborative leadership is critical to success. Leadership needs to have the right attributes, believe in collaboration and have sufficient influence to take people on a journey with them (BS11000 Annex C provides a guide for desirable attributes and may help identify training needs). The same will apply to all staff that will interface with potential partners and it is wise to undertake a collaborative skills gap analysis and support the team with training and development to bridge any gaps. The Senior Executive Responsible (SER) should monitor progress and undertake regular SER reviews, and, as necessary, update the initial action plans.
Stage 3 also involves the development of partner selection criteria to help organisations understand whether they have the correct approach to make collaboration a success. Standard assessment of other businesses involves looking at their financials, track record, quality, performance and processes, etc; while these remain important, partners should also understand softer issues about culture and approach towards formal relationships. Partnerships involve equality if both sides are to truly benefit from the innovative thinking and value creation that should be encouraged as the partnership grows.
The aspects that are necessary to satisfy compliance with the standard are:
- Establish policies and processes to manage collaboration.
- Undertake an internal assessment to identify potential constraints and periodically review them.
- Establish a collaborative profile and monitor effectiveness.
- Appoint collaborative leadership which is competent in collaborative working.
- Establish partner selection criteria.
- Identify the level of knowledge and skills that exist and suitable staff development or recruitment.
- Establish an internal action plan and undertake regular reviews to ensure suitability and effectiveness of collaborative approaches.
- Update the relationship management plan to incorporate the findings of internal assessments.
This article was created by --Invennt 16:57, 3 May 2013 (BST)
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Collaborative practices.
- Government Construction Strategy.
- Latham Report.
- Leadership styles.
- Team behavioural roles.
- Team management.
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