Forming a successful partnership

Partnerships can take many different forms, from informal networks through to formal arrangements that include budget sharing and even jointly funded roles.

One of the most important aspects of a successful partnership is that all parties understand the nature of the arrangement. Are you there to share ideas and network? To run a joint programme? Are you able to share budgets for the programme? What are your joint goals?

Stages of partnership working

Below are four stages of partnership working. You may find that you fit easily into one of these categories, or that your relationship has elements from more than one. It is worth discussing this with your current and potential partners - where do they think you fit in?

  • Networking - A network is a loose partnership, where members can come in and out without disruption. Networks are primarily there to share knowledge and ideas, and meet new people with whom they might form a more involved partnership. This can include things such as a monthly knowledge-sharing meet up, or discussions on a networking website like Making the Link.
  • Cooperating: This is the first stage of formal joint working - all parties understand where they have shared interest and concerns. They share information about their current work and, based on this mutual understanding, they agree to cooperate with each other. This can include things like cross-promotion of similar events they are running.
  • Collaborating: Collaboration involves greater commitment on the part of the members. It involves not just sharing ideas, but being influenced by the views of other agencies, and agreeing to work together with some shared goals. This includes things like setting up a joint project, or perhaps sharing training of staff.
  • Integrating: This is the closest form of joint working. It requires coordination effort to ensure that all agencies are working to the same brief, and have the same goals. It can include things like sharing budgets or jointly funding a post.

Find out more about partnership working

The Improvement and Development Agency released a revised report on integrated working in children's services. It contains information on the key success factors of a good partnership.

The King's Fund did some research into partnership working, and gave advice on the best ways to ensure that a partnership is successful.

The Audit Commission released a report in 2007 that examined partnership working in relation to accident prevention.

Updated January 2012