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Benefits and risks of collaborative working

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Collaborative working won't be right for every organisation in every case. Carefully identifying and addressing issues of concern helps establish if collaboration is the right way forward.

Potential benefits

  • New or improved services
  • Wider geographical reach or access to new beneficiary groups
  • More integrated or co-ordinated approach to beneficiary needs
  • Financial savings and better use of existing resources
  • Knowledge, good practice and information sharing
  • Sharing the risk in new and untested projects
  • Capacity to replicate success
  • Stronger, united voice
  • Better co-ordination of organisations' activities
  • Competitive advantage
  • Mutual support between organisations

Ultimately collaborative working should enable you better to meet your beneficiaries' needs.

Potential risks

  • Outcomes do not justify the time and resources invested
  • Loss of flexibility in working practices
  • Complexity in decision-making and loss of autonomy
  • Diverting energy and resources away from core aims – mission drift
  • Damage to or dilution of your brand and reputation
  • Damage to organisation and waste of resources if collaboration is unsuccessful
  • Lack of awareness of legal obligations
  • Stakeholder confusion

Key obstacles to a successful collaboration

  • Personalities
  • Competition between partners
  • Lack of information and experience
  • Lack of resources, especially at decision-making stage
  • Resistance to change
  • Cultural mismatch between organisations
  • Lack of consistency and clarity on roles and responsibilities

Things that can help overcome challenges

  • Good personal relationships
  • Compatible cultures or an understanding of different cultures
  • Written agreements
  • Experience of change management, leadership and vision
  • Clear and agreed mutual benefits and collaborative advantage
  • A focus on the big picture
  • Careful planning
  • ICT tools

For more guidance, read our page: Should you collaborate?

Last reviewed: 23 June 2022

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This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 23 June 2022

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