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Business partnerships have become an essential element of the strategic initiatives undertaken by progressive organizations for ensuring their competitiveness and relevance in a world that does not pay heed to tradition, shuns conventional thinking, seeks seamless gratification, pledges loyalty to technological innovation and punishes complacency with extinction.  However, the success of such endeavors is largely dependent upon the congruity of goals and objectives and the effective implementation of carefully mapped phases to ensure that each partner is able to gain the maximum benefit from such an investment.

Business Partnership Life Cycle Scorecard (BPLCS) is an invaluable tool for assisting in the timely and effective oversight of the health of such partnerships.  It is essentially a proactive measure for buffering against and, if needed, overcoming any potential/actual challenges that might derail key objectives and core expectations of all the parties concerned.  It is an exercise in calculated risk management that rewards the foresight of organizations with the humility and astuteness to learn well from their missteps to maximize their probability of success.  It is designed in a user-friendly manner and requires minimal effort in being able to apply it proficiently by a senior executive/designated representative.  Note: Business Partnership Life Cycle Scorecard (BPLCS) form is attached at the end of this article.

Assessment of the business partnership through the BPLCS is done in relation to an insightful question with a Yes/No response which is further reinforced by indicating the strength of the Yes/No response on a scale of 1-5 to reflect the confidence level of the professional carrying out the respective assessment.  An overall grade reflects the performance at a particular stage by considering all the constituent elements.  The whole exercise is not only for monitoring and review purposes, but also, serves as an invaluable guide for future business partnership endeavors.  Let’s take a closer look at the key stages within the Business Partnership Life Cycle Scorecard (BPLCS), as follows:

Partnership Formation
This refers to all the due diligence activities that are necessary for initiating and safeguarding a partnership from a legal and corporate perspective.  It is defined by the ‘Commencement’ phase that harbors questions on the strengths of the foundations, upon which; the business partnership is being built and balanced.  Any problematic areas at this stage should be effectively dealt on priority basis since complacency at this level can have unpleasant and debilitating consequences while the partnership is in motion at the next stage.

Partnership in Motion
This refers to the elements that are critical for the successful running of the business partnership.  It is defined by the following six phases:

Communication           Coordination

Commitment                Cooperation

Commercial                   Competition

Assessment at this stage is a periodic process that is carried out at defined intervals and a cumulative grade subsequently used as a guide to determine the:

Robust corrective/preventive actions needed to sustain the Partnership
Feasibility and effectiveness of Partnership continuance according to the defined agreement
Strategy for countering/neutralizing the current/potential competitors
Natural dissolution of Partnership according to the defined agreement
Pre-mature termination of Partnership according to the defined agreement
Legal measures needed to safeguard the business interests of each party according to the defined agreement
Prospects for Partnership in future

Partnership Dissolution
This refers to all the due diligence activities that are necessary for ensuring that the business partnership can be concluded in an effective manner.  It is defined by the ‘Culmination’ phase that is designed to harness the ‘lessons learnt’ aspect of the business partnership as a helpful guide for an overall review and in the formulation of future initiatives within the respective context.  It is flexible enough to accommodate the ‘amicable’ approach to winding down the business partnership in the ‘normal’ course of ‘planned’ events, as well as, catering for the ‘crisis/unforeseen’ aspect of moving away from an undesirable situation as a way of ‘damage control’ and/or to preserve the professional reputation of the organization.

Food for Thought
Business partnerships are a ‘delicate dance’ between competing interests and it is becoming exceedingly rare to see remarkable success of such initiatives as organizations try to maintain a steady foothold within a progressively dynamic global market that is increasingly susceptible to disruption from innovative competitors.  Business Partnership Life Cycle Scorecard (BPLCS) serves as a timely ‘wake-up call’ for enterprising organizations to avoid becoming victims of their own complacency on account of an assuring sense of past accomplishments.  Raising a glass to your success!

Click to view forms – Business Partnership Life Cycle Sorecard (BPLCS)