Collaboration

3SC were set up in 2009 to deliver exceptional contract performance through collaborative partnerships most often delivered through consortia of third sector organisations. The partnerships have always focussed on the themes of shared working, fairness, co-production, design and operation.

For all of our partners and indeed 3SC, collaborative working brings with it a host of benefits, of which the following is nowhere near an exhaustive account:

i) Sharing of best practice leading to improved services

ii) Wider geographical coverage shared between multiple partners

iii) Shared risk

iv) Increased quality

iv) Strong, shared voice with added weight and gravitas where multiple well-regarded members share their expertise and speak as one.

There are of course clear risks that accompany any kind of collaboration.

We ensure we work with organisations that share a similar culture, mission and ethos, but there is always the possibility that each partner’s specific brand will be diluted or obscured. Brands perceived as ‘larger’ may obscure the contribution of ostensibly smaller brands within the partnership regardless of the actual working split of operational responsibility. It’s important that partners are not submerged within the consortia and especially that public praise is appropriately shared amongst our teams.

Clarity also needs to exist around the hierarchy with clear responsibilities designated. If there is not one clear managing lead then an agreement must be reached on specific responsibilities for specific roles. This links into (and helps avoid) the possibility of ‘Risk Drift’ or the occurrence by which no-one claims responsibility for specific areas of difficulty either by ignorance or by definite design. A clear hierarchy delineating responsibilities in clear, simple terms avoids this difficulty and is, to be frank, something of a no-brainer. This is where we provide genuine leadership. A 3SC Contract Performance Manager can and will manage the relationship, assigning and supporting on specific tasks as required ensuring performance, quality, risk, budget and HR concerns remain within expected parameters and where possible exceed expectations.

A significant part of the 3SC role is the way smaller organisations who work with us in partnership are able to access larger contracts that they otherwise wouldn't be able to access alone. Our collaborative, pro-active approach allows us to join together, to leverage our strengths against each other's strengths and bid for, win and deliver contracts together. 

Ultimately the construction of collaborative partnerships and consortia bring the possibility of great rewards providing the partners overcome the not insignificant risks and focus on working together positively. There does need to be a certain synergy between partner cultures and most importantly a robust legal and contractual framework that clearly stipulates expected results, supply and the Terms and Conditions. It is imperative that those working to deliver outputs are assured of a specific intake whilst those managing the overall relationship are aware of their responsibility to provide a healthy working resource.

One key element throughout every single collaborative venture is that the fair, honest, legal, contractual framework must find a mirror for it’s virtues within the professional relationships at a human level in each of the partners.

A purely contractual collaboration can meet it’s targets but a truly successful collaboration though, has that element of open, honest, human management that will allow a collaborative project to surpass the targets and one hopes, all expectations.

 

Gareth Snaith - Contract Performance Manager

gareth.snaith@3sc.org