Step 1 - Where Does Your Organisation Fit on the Collaboration Matrix?

The ‘Collaboration Matrix’ is a useful tool that can be used to assess your own organisation’s appetite for collaboration and how formal you wish that collaboration to be. The basic premise of the model is that there are different types of collaboration and they vary in the degree to which they are administration focused versus programme focused, and secondly, whether there is greater autonomy or greater integration of the participating organisations.


Collaboration Groupings

1. Coordination

You can see from the matrix above that there are three distinct groupings. Firstly, coordination, seen on the far left of the matrix, is the loosest form of partnership, in that there is no formal integration amongst the organisations in question. Information sharing and coordinating efforts typify this type of arrangement and no change in governance or ownership ensues. 
2. Alliance
Moving toward the middle of the matrix, we can see that there are two forms of partnership type in the alliance category, namely; Administrative, Consolidation and Joint Programming.
Both of the alliance type partnerships are agreement driven and usually result in a signed document such as a Memorandum of Understanding or a Service Level Agreement to outline what is expected of each partner. 

In the administrative consolidation type of partnership, this might entail sharing office space, office equipment or administrative staff members. In a joint programming initiative, a programme is run cooperatively between two or more organisations, such as an advocacy campaign, an information sharing event, a seminar or even a lobbying initiative. The key with both of these arrangements is that the organisations operate independently under their own governance structure outside these alliances.
3. Integration
There are four types of partnership under the integration heading, and they are: management service organisation, joint-venture, parent-subsidiary and merger

The establishment of a management service organisation (MSO) occurs when two or more voluntary organisations establish an organisation to provide some or all of their administrative functions such as finance, fundraising, human resources, information technology, procurement and any other shared back-office function.
In a parent-subsidiary type of strategic restructuring, one of the organisations oversees the other(s).  This usually happens when both organisations agree that it makes sense to merge, but one of the organisations funding might be put in jeopardy by this new arrangement. A parent-subsidiary structure is a mechanism which can protect the funding streams of both partners.
A joint-venture is a well known form of partnership in the commercial world and is becoming more common in the not-for-profit, community and voluntary sector also. It entails two or more organisations forming a new structure to further a specific administrative or programmatic end.
Lastly, a merger occurs when previously separate organisations completely combine programmatic, administrative, and governance functions in order to create a new single entity, with one mission, vision, set of strategic objectives, management team and Board of Directors.

Next Steps...

You should have a clearer idea of which grouping you belong in - click on the appropriate one below to advance to the Step 2: Diagnosing Your Needs.

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