By Claire West

Strategic partnerships are critical to business success. This is true both internally and externally; the development of strong relationships with employees, clients, partners and suppliers is vital to the life of a company. Yet how does one create trusted business partnerships for mutual benefit? The new British standard — BS 11000-1 Collaborative Business Relationships — clearly defines the path to effective business to business affiliation.

With businesses and sectors worldwide looking to move forward from economic recovery, organisational partnerships are becoming increasingly attractive. The global financial shock of the past two years forced businesses to realise the vulnerability of certain business models, due to complex issues which require the support and strength of a cooperative approach. Important questions of how to finance growth and investment against this backdrop of uncertainty have directed our sights to a more collaborative — less transactional — business future.

In light of this, BSI has recently published the new standard, BS 11000-1 Collaborative Business Relationships. As with all relationships, a framework of boundaries is crucial to protect both parties involved and secure mutual satisfaction. Designed to build off the PAS 11000, BS 11000-1 will address a wider audience, including small and medium-sized enterprises.

Among various provisions, the new standard equips businesses with the means to assess internal objectives, select the most suitable partners, attain clear "additional" value, and stick to an effective dispute and exit resolution. The standard is designed to strengthen the foundations of strategic partnering, by relationship management, the sharing of knowledge among businesses, and the promotion of mutually-agreed objectives.

Cooperation between businesses across multiple sectors has proved remarkably advantageous. Several case studies show that corporate partnerships not only encourage the circulation of ideas, they also inspire growth workshops, strategy sessions, potential expansion through long-term relationships, and increased trust within the industry.

"People have been collaborating in various ways for many years, but with recent difficult market conditions organizations increasingly need to look at new ways of diversifying and partnering," explains BSI market engagement manager Antony Barrett.

"In some instances the nature of the work absolutely requires organizations to partner effectively," he concludes. "In a lot of tender situations we’re now seeing businesses pitching together rather than individually. This standard can really help to set them apart from the competition."

Collaborative approaches are the way forward, and compliance with this British Standard is the first step, enabling partners to meet mutual objectives effectively and provide new levels of value creation.