What to look for in a business collaboration

by Laura Hanrahan

Better connectivity and collaboration tools are making it easier than ever to work with other businesses. But what should you look for when you're searching for a new organisation to collaborate with?

Business partnerships are increasingly important. Many influential organisations are regarding them as a tool for gaining competitive advantage and are entering into formal long-term agreements or collaborating on specific one-off projects.

Whatever partnership you're looking for, getting together with another company can help you scale up your business or add value and new skills.

Finding a business to collaborate with

For some organisations, it might be immediately obvious who they should collaborate with. For others, it might need a bit of strategic thinking to find potential partners.

A shared end goal helps guide business decisions and adaptations along the way

Either way, there are several fundamental aspects to consider when looking for a business to collaborate with.

A common goal

If each business has a different idea of where the collaboration is going, then it won't work. Each party needs to be on the same page from the very beginning. You should also have a shared end goal to help guide business decisions and adaptations throughout the journey.

Shared values

Like-minded thinking minimises conflict and opens up greater opportunities for expansion or innovation. So, a collaboration between members that share business values will work much more smoothly.

Complementary skills

One of the biggest benefits of a collaboration is using the skills and resources of your partners to strengthen the value proposition.

Like-minded thinking minimises conflict and opens up greater opportunities

If these don't match, the collaboration might well run into logistical difficulties.

Mutual trust

Collaboration is about working together. And that demands a certain level of mutual trust and respect. Any imbalance is likely to breed ill feeling and lead to unequal contributions that are not useful for a successful partnership.

A similar business culture

It might be difficult to engage if your ways of working are very different. For example, if your potential partners have a rigid hierarchical structure, and you don't, this could lead to less effective collaboration.

The right tools

Communication comes to the fore to ensure smooth integration. Working in multi-company groups can be challenging, so having the right collaboration tools in place is essential when working towards a shared goal.

Ways to overcome distance

Geography and language are no longer barriers to collaboration. In fact, one of the reasons you might collaborate with another business is to enter new and more distant markets.

Having the right collaboration tools in place is essential to achieve shared goals

But you need to make sure that you have the right tools in place to communicate effectively at a distance. Using platforms such as Workplace, for example, can help you overcome language barriers and join up global, multi-company groups

Establishing the right type of collaboration

So, you've found the right business to collaborate with. Now you need to optimise the ways you work with them.

There are many different models for business collaboration. They range from collaborating around a single issue or product, to formal partnerships, to creating a new joint organisation.

Hype Innovation puts forward four main types of collaboration:

  • Alliance. Two or three businesses agree to temporarily pool their skills, knowledge, products, services or resources
  • Portfolio. A centrally managed collaboration. This involves several independent businesses agreeing to share knowledge and build a portfolio
  • Innovation network. A group of interconnected businesses share goals and coordinate on products, services or processes
  • Ecosystem. The most advanced type of collaboration. Various organisations – and even end customers – form long-term interdependencies

Effective collaborations build on your ability to share

Whichever approach you take, effective collaborations build on your ability to share. Sharing knowledge and resources or skills and experience – and ultimately, sharing success or failure.

The business opportunity is there for collaboration; you just need to find your business match…

Watch how using Workplace is helping Mercado Libre collaborate and get more work done. Then try Workplace Premium free for 90 days.

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