March 25, 2021

Section 2: Partnership

The BPP’s guide to effective partnerships.

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

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. We invest the time to establish a Ways of Working (WoW) document and provide dedicated support throughout the partnership.

By working in partnership we can co-finance, share insights and ideas, and leverage each others’ capabilities. We hope to make the most of this opportunity and look forward to working together in genuine partnership.

What is a Ways of Working Document?

The WoW will ensure agreement on how partners will work together. The WoW will not be legally 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 develop a Ways of Working document

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

These 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 document 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.

Support throughout 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 typically be done on a quarterly  basis to ensure ongoing relationship building, progress of the joint initiative, allow partners to reflect on learning and make adjustments as required. During your workshops you may discuss how to convene these check-ins.

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.

What you can expect from a partnership with the Australian Government

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:

Why we invest the time to get it right

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

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. 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.

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.

The partnership  cycle is  consistent  with  a  project  management  framework with a focus  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) document,  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.

For more information watch the Partnership Brokers Association’s informative videos on partnership and brokering here: https://vimeo.com/partnershipbrokers

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.

We believe that adopting these principles can help create a genuine partnership that can lead to transformative change. 

Hear from our partners

Get the latest on partnership opportunities