Step 3 - Planning (Integration)

The planning phase will be the largest body of work in your collaborative endeavour. At this stage, you will have identified the areas that you would like to collaborate around and you will have identified and approached your collaboration partners. You should be confident at this stage that you have a valid and well reasoned rationale for the collaboration, so don’t be afraid to take that leap of faith! The amount of work and type of activities in this phase will vary, and will be largely dependent on the number of partners in your collaboration initiative and the degree of formality around the arrangement i.e. Coordination, alliance or integration.

Integration Projects

Planning for an integration type partnership will entail carrying out much of the work that we have seen in the last two sections. Here though, because of the sometimes confidential and senstive nature of the change, a dedicated stakeholder analysis and communication plan is also advised. As we saw at the outset, integration type partnerships can take the form of Management Service Organisations, Parent-subsidiary arrangements, Joint ventures or Mergers. Some of these types of arrangements may impact on the current roles of some staff in the organisation and it is therefore important to ensure the right people are communicated to at the right time, in the right way and with the right message. That rule also holds true for all of your other stakeholders. 
As an example, one of the projects in the Collaborate to Innovate programme consisted of two Community Drugs Teams exploring the possibility of a merger. Having gone through the rationale, the plan, the risks, their journey to date and their expectations, we decided to brainstorm a list of potential stakeholders and devise a communication plan.  A stakeholder can be defined as “A person, group, or organisation that has a direct or indirect stake in an organisation because it can affect or be affected by the organisation's actions, objectives, and policies”. When we used this definition, we arrived at a comprehensive list that contained the following: Staff, Service users, Board, Funders, Local Communities, Politicians, Banks, Suppliers, Media and more.
Once the team generated a comprehansive list we were able to plot the stakeholders into a stakeholder matrix as seen in the template on page 28. We were then able to ascertain which stakeholders would be supportive of any potential merger and which stakeholders might be resistant. The stakeholders were also ranked according to their level of influence, ranging from ‘little or no influence’ to ‘significant influence’. 
Once we had done this, we concentrated on creating a communications plan. Key considerations to be taken into account when creating a communications plan for each stakeholder are as follows:
  • Communication type
  • Communication objective
  • Medium
  • Frequency
  • Audience
  • Owner
  • Deliverable 
In the planning stage for integration type projects, it is also important to work out the timing and sequencing of announcements. This, in itself requires a substantial amount of planning as it needs to take into account each of the stakeholders, the individual message that will be communicated to them and the optimum timing for the communication. Communication leaks and rumours can be detrimental to the success of a project if the right communications plan is not put in place.


A detailed project plan is crucial for the success of any collaborative project and should be completed within the planning stage. Below is a sample template, but feel free to tailor your project plan depending on the complexity of the project.

The below matrix is a useful tool to use when analysing risks. Hold a brainstorming session to generate a list of risks. Once this is done, plot them into the matrix below depending on the liklihood of them occuring and the impact or severity if they did occur. 

The stakeholder analysis matrix is a helpful way to analyse which stakeholders will be allies in the change initiative and which stakeholders may be somewhat resistant. As before, once the stakeholders are identified, plot them into the matrix depending on their level of influence and their perceived support level. This will assist you when developing the communications plan. 


Go to Integration Step 4: Implementation ►