Collaborating Effectively: Corporate Voices [video]

min read

Four higher ed business consultants address the question: With the increasing need to align resources with institutional strategies, what makes a great collaboration?

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Clint Davies, Principal, BerryDunn
Kate Hazen, Higher Ed Practice Director, M&S Consulting
David Hemingson, Partner, ISG
Rebecca Weaver, President and CEO, Fox & Weaver Consulting Inc.

Kate Hazen: A great collaboration, when you're trying to align resources across the institution and projects is to think about the process through use of business capabilities. If you first look at what are the business capabilities that we are trying to enable and we're trying to build, then you can align IT investments, resources, to get appropriate business outcomes. If you do not do that, if you don't think about business capabilities, too often it turns into a technical solution and a discussion of tools.

Clint Davies: So collaboration is such an important part of success, and it really starts with setting a clear vision, having sponsors that can establish that vision, can communicate it, having the right team members, be they the department or the group that is working through the process changes on campus, the vendor that is providing the software and the tools and training, consultants that are assisting in the design process and change management. All of those characters, all those actors really come together to form the team, that collaborative team, and having a good working relationship is absolutely essential for that team, and having a clear vision, having milestones established and having a plan that all of the parties are able to focus on, is the place to start. Then it's a matter of really managing that effectively, of focusing on achieving the plan, identifying where issues arise and addressing them quickly when they're small. I think that's really important, and that's a communicating challenge. So establishing good communication, good working relationships with people on the team is really important, and you need that team, the vendor, the client team members, the advisors, the other supporting players, all to work together.

Rebecca Weaver: A great collaboration begins with client-side project management and leadership support, but when you're dealing with an implementation of a new product, a lot of times folks will kind of make the leap that the project manager written in that contract from the that vendor is going to manage everyone across the whole project, and that would include client-side resources, institutional resources. Rarely if ever does the project management in that contract actually include the management of client-side resources. They may list client-side tasks, because it's important to include those in your plan, but they won't be the person making the phone calls to schedule those meetings, making sure those resources are available, making sure the institution has the correct resources. So it's very important that you have a resource in-house, meaning you've hired a separate third party to be your client-side project manager slash process improvement guru, or you've already got somebody in-house who can be that project manager and keep an eye on things and make sure those resources are available. So that's key. Then leadership support, leadership support, leadership support. So often, a project is begun that may or may not truly have leadership support, and we see this quite often. So if you are lacking that leadership support, you may get the product implemented, you may get the assessment done, you may get a new process designed, but the likelihood that adoption will happen in any short space of time is pretty rare if you don't have that support.

David Hemingson: You have to have a longterm win-win situation, where all the participants win in some way, maybe not to the full extent that they would like to, but where they're better off in collaboration rather than on their own. I think that really comes down to developing a trust relationship. How do you do that? Well, I think it's ownership of shared objectives, goals, plans, and a commitment to the success overall of the collaboration. There also needs, I think, to be some means of settling disputes that might occur, and that's a protocol that the participants need to buy into and believe in, because inevitably, those things, they'll be conflicts of priority, they'll be conflicts in direction, but if there is a good resolution process, then the collaboration will continue, and can be successful. If it's not there it will inevitably have difficulties and probably not exist for very long.