How can collaboration truly deliver positive outcomes for both client and service provider?

Delivering tangible benefits for both client and service provider from collaborative change initiatives can be a challenge. Consider the typical scenario of a stakeholder seeking better collaboration because a contract is failing to meet expectations, either on the client side or provider, or perhaps both. Delays in delivery, high costs and clunky processes can create frustration, duplication and generate additional cost. On the flipside, clients can often find themselves under cost pressures and need to renegotiate better terms with service providers. Clients usually have a hunch if there is fat built into a price, or they do not recognise VFM.  However, if both parties are able to work collaboratively to embed efficient processes, then effective collaboration can deliver a true win-win outcome.

If a service provider isn’t achieving SLA’s, then a request to change its processes is likely to be met with a “sort your own house out first and then we can talk” type response. Discussions are likely to end in deadlock or even finger pointing, goodwill is diminished and the opportunity is lost. So positioning collaborative change initiatives in the right way, and getting both sides on board, is essential to achieving positive outcomes.

Working with an external partner can provide an impartial and objective view of processes within both client and supplier and, if done effectively, can get to the root cause of wastage, duplication and non-value added activities. An external party can also play the referee role with regards to measurement and sharing of benefits.

Again, it is common that collaboration initiatives commence in the right spirit but run out of steam, as stakeholders fail to complete actions within agreed timeframes or intransigence creeps in or, worst case, the saboteurs lobby against the initiative. An experienced third party facilitator can manage the programme effectively without any political baggage, ensuring stakeholders within both parties are held accountable for completing their actions in the absence of any harboured grudges.

In the right hands, change initiatives can improve processes and establish the right behaviours in a controlled and sustainable manner. Left in the wrong hands, the change initiative poses much risk: failure to effectively implement change, frustration, alienation or entrenchment of staff on both sides and lost momentum. Savings fail to materialise, the blame game continues, which often leads to further conflict and a souring of relationships.

Engaging with in an external party, with the right skills to deliver change in an impartial but effective manner, and on-boarding all stakeholders, can provide great returns on investment and deliver sustainable positive change.