The Design Stage of a New Collaboration

Published: 1st July 2014 Category: Innovation and Design Download Article as PDF

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I believe that translating the business case into a brand new shared service is one of the most exciting parts of any collaborative process.

We have to accept that some things are often decided during the development of the business case as they have to be included in the numbers. For example, identifying the building you will operate from and its costs.

However, many other things can be designed into the operating model of the planned service to give it a whole new look and feel. A new, lower-cost, better way of working.

This is especially important when creating a shared service from existing functions in two or more organisations, because if the new workplace too closely resembles just one of the existing donor sites, it starts to feel like a takeover rather than a merger.

Professor Rosabeth Moss-Kanter, one of the world leaders in shared service and merger research, is clear that in moving to the new service, a design should be created which is not identified with either legacy organisation, removing issues of territory and potential conflict.

In the design phase, there are so many things to consider; not least making sure that the new service is capable of delivering, at the very minimum, everything that has been put forward in the vision document and business case.

In my experience, making a checklist containing as many of the different elements that you and your collaboration partners would like to consider, is a great starting point. An example of a checklist you might end up with is shown in the table on the next page [please see the downloadable PDF for the table].

Working through each of the elements, you might generate more checks, or end up removing some from the list.
The important step is to tailor the checklist to suit the requirements of your unique shared service programme.

Once you’re happy with the list, you can start to allocate ‘ownership’ for the delivery of each of the elements and develop a project plan, incorporating time-scales and dependencies, to ensure you will be ready for business in advance of your target date.

Of course, someone will have to take agreed ownership of the overall project plan to keep everything on track – and this should be on a full-time basis and not on top of their day job.

You’ll feel a great sense of achievement when you’re ticking off the tasks as they’re completed. This also gives you the opportunity to identify issues and conflicts at an early stage and develop resolutions and communication strategies to keep your plan on track.

Being able to demonstrate that the new arrangements are a success is essential, so you will need to build in processes to enable you to measure performance from the outset.

If the work that the new service will be carrying out is currently being done by the partner organisations, or elsewhere, be sure to measure the tangible outputs as they stand before the date of transfer.

This data will act as the benchmark against which you will be able to compare results and show the progress made when the work moves to the new service.

This will enable the leadership of your organisation to safeguard the collaborative journey, by communicating the success of the new, better, lower-cost service, in comparison with what went before.

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