COVID-19 has brought challenges to businesses the world over. Andy Green, Business Development Director at BM TRADA discusses how working together will help us through the crisis, and over a series of blogs, will explain the process and benefits of collaborative working and ISO 44001 certification.

In the third of a series of blogs on collaborative working Andy discusses the importance of shared objectives in the ISO 44001 certification process.

Before setting out on a collaborative business relationship, one of the key areas to consider is that the objectives of all parties are aligned. Without shared, mutual objectives, the collaboration is unlikely to succeed.

ISO 44001 Collaborative business relationships 

ISO 44001 requires a business case for each collaborative relationship, so the thinking must go beyond ‘wouldn’t it be great to work together sometime?’ There are many areas to consider before entering the arrangement and a great deal more to add when you have chosen your partner(s). You need to know exactly what you are going to work on together; the added value that it will bring, and most importantly, you need to know why. What are you hoping to achieve from the relationship and how do these align with your own corporate objectives?

The answer to this question might be safety, happy clients, increased profit etc., but all parties should have the same goals from the outset. In every relationship, there will undoubtedly be three sets of objectives – ‘yours’, ‘mine’, and ‘ours’. A strong collaboration will acknowledge all three and work towards achieving them all. Each organisation should work together to understand their own objectives, as well as establishing a dialogue around the common objectives and goals. They may not all be the same, but they should be complementary, as misalignment with mutual objectives may cause the relationship to fail. Ultimately, a collaborative relationship must have an objective shared by all parties that also supports each party’s individual objectives.

Throughout the process, these objectives must be front of mind. Once the partnership has been identified, there should be a joint recognition and blending of common and individual organization objectives, and ongoing monitoring to ensure the delivery. Providing the performance which was initially agreed is a critical aspect of any relationship. If the objectives move or are failing to be achieved then this must be acted upon, potentially triggering the important ‘exit strategy’ that we will discuss next time.

One of the useful things about ISO 44001 certification is that it can help businesses to identify how relationship management can achieve its business objectives, as well as to select the right partner to complement them, and to build a joint approach based on mutual advantage.

Using a standard such as ISO 44001 creates a robust framework to provide a neutral platform for establishing effective collaborative programmes. It acts as a bridge between cultures and reduces any confusion between the individual organizations, ensuring that goals are in place from the beginning. Understanding the objectives and drivers for collaboration is an essential part of the process, because if they are not well defined, it becomes difficult to communicate the rationale for the collaboration in the first place. And if individuals struggle to see the point of the exercise, it becomes extremely challenging to keep everyone engaged.

Not all relationships are right for collaboration. For example, purely transactional relationships may not benefit, because they are unable bring greater tangible benefits than a more traditional ownership model. The objectives need to not only be aligned, but the process must also clearly add value. 

In my next and final blog in this series, I will discuss the fourth critical part of the ISO 44001 process; the exit strategy. If you have any questions about ISO 44001, or any other management system, please get in touch. Click here for information on our training services and here to access the Bookshop where a list of certification standards and guide books can be found.