Collaboration, simply defined, refers to ‘the action of working with someone to produce something’. It’s a teachable skill that forms the foundation of successful teams and business relationships in any working environment. ‘Collaboration’ is the new buzzword because in this day and age, businesses can no longer cut it by working entirely independently of each other and survive a competitive business world.

Collaboration is a powerful business tool for companies working together to achieve common goals and to overcome challenges that would not have been possible as independent entities. Deciding to partner with new businesses or polishing up on innovative collaborative techniques can improve your company’s productivity by 20-30%.

Benefits of business collaboration include:

  • Financial: working together with the intention to boost sales, to tender for larger contracts or share resources.
  • Human Capital: making use of sharing a workforce that is rich in skills and capabilities.
  • Physical Resources: sharing physical work spaces, raw materials and resources.
  • Intellectual Benefits: tapping into combined knowledge, skills and experience.

When businesses decide to collaborate and complement each other, it allows them to compete in markets that may otherwise be out of their reach in. Collaborative relationships are achieved in three stages; the exploration of the potential benefits of partnering up, assimilation of the ideas into a working business relationship and exploitation of shared resources and knowledge to create new processes.

Achieving successful business cohesion relies on the following elements:

  • Trust and Transparency
    This is about leading by example and trusting your business teams to successfully get projects done. It’s about working side by side, encouraging feedback, listening to opinions and offering expertise where needed, in order to work as one unified team.
  • Structure and Skill-Set
    Knowing the strengths and skills of the business teams is important when instilling a network of roles and responsibilities. Having these structures in place creates physical and organisational routines which solidifies collaboration. It also prevents conflict and confusion between business partners.
  • Mutuality and Information Exchange
    Deciding on realistic expectations early on in business relationships is important. This ensures that teams understand their roles and can focus on their common goals to benefit all parties. Maintaining an open line of communication will solidify trust between business networks and assist decision-making and problem solving.

Collaborative business relationships offer the opportunity to work with like-minded business partners with mutual interests. Collaborative teams and tools pave the way to unified and powerful business forces. This ultimately generates improved client satisfaction, faster service delivery, innovative products and quicker feedback. To succeed in today’s business landscape, businesses need to rely on each other’s skills and backgrounds; something that may take time to achieve, but is worth the effort.