March 25, 2021

Section 1: Partnership

The BPP’s guide to effective partnerships.

We believe genuine partnerships can be transformative. Now more than ever, with the global challenges of COVID, we need governments, businesses, not-for-profits and other institutions to work together to rebuild better and fairer economies and communities.

Working across sectors can present challenges – how do we overcome these? The BPP aims to create genuine partnerships that can create lasting commercial and social impact and success.

By working in partnership we can co-finance, share insights and ideas, leverage each others’ capabilities – we hope you make the most of this opportunity and look forward to supporting you through your partnership!

Investing time to get it right

We believe spending time and effort upfront to establish a strong partnership will lead to better results.

Given the short period of our partnership, ensuring it is able to form quickly and operate effectively is critical to the success of the partnership. For this reason, the partnership model is the key defining feature of our program. The  partnerships are not, and  should not be, an end in themselves – however they do provide a solid base from which results can be delivered effectively for all parties.

What can you expect from the partnership?

There are many ways your partnership could benefit from DFAT support.

For the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Business Partnerships Platform offers an opportunity to be in an enhanced role as a partner – not as a funder or contract administrator, though it is also both of those things. This a step-change from other development initiatives and we welcome you to take advantage of DFAT’s enhanced role as partner.

Here are a few examples:

What is a Ways of Working agreement?

It is useful to think of the contract as the ‘what’ of the BPP and the Way of Working agreement as ‘how’ the partners intend to work together.

Negotiating a Ways of Working Agreement (WoW) is the first step in your partnerships (in addition to a funding contract). The WoW will ensure agreement on how partners will work together minimising the potential for misunderstanding and misalignment. This will ensure both the relationships between each organisation, and the processes supporting the partnership,  are  clearly  thought  through  and  aligned.

It is not intended that the WoW will be binding (unlike  the  contract),  but  in  essence  it  provides  a  living  ‘code  of  conduct’,  which  will  inform  the  way  the  partners  intend  to  work  together  for  the  duration  of  the  engagement,  clarifying  expectations,  contributions and respective roles and responsibilities.

Steps to agree on Ways of Working

The Ways of Working will be developed through two four hour sessions.  The BPP will provide a PBA accredited  Partnership  Broker  to  facilitate the  sessions.

The sessions intend to:

  1. Build an understanding of each organisation’s priorities, expectations, shared and individual objectives, challenges and concerns.
  2. Agree the principles, values, and behaviours which will define the partnership.
  3. Achieve clarity on roles, responsibilities, and mutual accountabilities.
  4. Agree communications protocols to support effective and efficient partnering.
  5. Jointly develop a non-binding WoW Agreement describing the agreed partnership and management arrangements which will govern how partners work together on the BPP.

Your partnership broker will set-up a time to talk to you before the sessions. For more detail, please see the DRAFT AGENDA of the WoW Partnering Sessions.

Support during the partnership

We will hold regular Partner Check-ins and a Partnering Healthcheck monitoring and  review processes throughout the partnership.

Partner check-ins will be done on a more ad-hoc basis to ensure on-going relationship building, progress of the joint initiative, allow partners to reflect on learning and make adjustments as required. This will be lead by your point of contact at the Business Partnerships Platform who will bring together all the partners.

Partnering Healthchecks  will  be workshops held  at  least  annually  (six-monthly  if  partners  see  a  need) with the support of a Partnership Broker,  to  give  all  partners  the  opportunity  to  review  the  health  of  the  partnership  –  including  governance, relationships and  processes. The Healthcheck is focused on continuous improvement – identifying what is working well, and what could be improved, based on experience to date. The aim is to  ensure  that  the  partnership  delivers  both  shared  and  individual  objectives.  The  Partnership  Broker will work with the partners and will facilitate the workshop.

Partnership theory

BPP’s  approach  to  partnership  is  based  on  the  internationally  recognised  Partnership  Brokers  Association   frameworks  and  partnering  cycle,  developed  specifically  for  multi-­‐stakeholder  partnerships.

Strongly  grounded  in  practitioner  experience,  for  those  familiar  with  the  project  management  cycle,  the  four  stages  of  the  partnering  cycle  are  consistent  with  a  project  management  framework,  but  focus  specifically  on  the  relationships  and  processes  which  support  project implementation.

The  partnership  cycle identifies  four  key  stages  in  effective  partnerships:  Scoping  and  Building (including the development of an MOU), Managing and Maintaining, Reviewing and Revising and Sustaining  Outcomes. 

The  partnering  process  adopted  by  BPP  follows  this  framework,  and  pays  particular  attention  to  the  scoping  and  building  stage,  including  the  development  of  the  Ways of Working (WoW) Agreement,  along  with  the  reviewing  and  revising  stage  through  the  implementation  of  the  Partner Check-ins and Partnering  Healthcheck  process.  It  is  important  to  note  that  the  partnership  cycle  is  not  necessarily  linear  in  all  cases,  following  each  stage  automatically after the other, but provides a useful frame of reference.

Principles of partnership

In order for partnerships to have the best possible chance of success, partnerships should  be  grounded  in  the  key  principles  of  equity,  transparency,  mutual  benefit  and  diversity. 

These  principles  underline  the  approaches  and  processes  adopted  in  BPP.  Experience  shows  that  where these principles are embedded in partnerships, they will lead to outcomes, which in turn contribute significantly to effective implementation of programs.

Equity does not mean equalitybut rather a commitment to justice, fairness and even handedness.  For BPP, this means that even small partners have as much right to be heard and to contribute as bigger  partners.   It  means  that  DFAT  will  hold  itself  to  account  as  much  as  it  holds  its  partners  to  account.  And  it  means  that  DFAT  and  its  partners  will  each  contribute  to  partnerships  from  their  areas  of  competence  and  strength,  will  respect  each  other’s  commitments,  and  importantly,  will  uphold  any  commitments.  Governance  procedures  will  also  be  equitable.  Where  genuine  equity  exists, partners are much more likely to value and respect each other’s contributions.

Transparency means that all BPP partners, including DFAT, will be open and honest in their dealings with  partners;  will  not  intentionally  withhold  information,  and  will  make  decisions  based  on  discussion  and  openness  in  its  dealings  with  partners.  There  is  recognition  that  commercial- in-confidence issues may arise from time to time, but they will be identified and dealt with under the confidentiality clause in the financial contract. Transparency is a key ingredient to the development of trust in partnerships, which in turns enables improved accountability and assists in risk mitigation.

Mutual benefit recognises that different partners may be involved in projects for different reasons, in addition to helping to achieve the shared goal. It is important to be able to discuss and recognize each  partner’s  individual  reasons  for  being  involved  in  the  partnership,  and  ensure  that  these  are  met through the course of the partnership. When mutual benefit exists, it is much more likely that, even  in  difficult  situations,  partners  will  continue  to  engage  and  work  out  solutions  together:  programs are more likely to achieve sustainability as a result.

Diversity  is  particularly  critical  to  the  BPP.   It  recognises  that  organisations  and  sectors  may  (and  should)  have  different  values,  approaches,  systems  and  experience,  which  they  bring  to  the partnership, but that this diversity is a key potential value-add of partnerships. It is important that diversity  is  discussed  and  protected  within  partnerships,  as  this  is  one  of  the  key  reasons  why  different  organisations  come  together  in  the  first  place  –  they  bring  something  others  do  not,  to help solve often complex problems which they cannot solve unilaterally. The key here is to ensure  that  while  values,  processes,  systems  and  priorities  may  be  different,  they  cannot  be  in  conflict, but should at least be aligned in order for a partnership to be successful.

When a genuine partnership approach is adopted, and is characterised in all partners by these key principles, we anticipate the possibility of partnerships to become transformative or game-changing!

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