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January 2023

Collaborative Relationships at Greater Modus

Image of Modus Services Building

Commencing in 2000, the PPP project to refurbish, maintain and operate the Ministry of Defence’s main building in London involves many stakeholders. Collectively referred to as Greater Modus, these stakeholders have committed to certain ways of working to encourage and embed collaborative relationships.

Those ways of working led to ISO 44001 accreditation in 2017 and recognition with an award from the Institute of Collaborative Working in 2020.

The steps taken to build incrementally required deliberate decision-making on how the stakeholders would form collaborative relationships and work together to minimise project risks and maximise the benefits for all involved.

What and how?

Senior buy-in was critical to establishing the mission statement: Together, we support Main Building by delivering safe, secure and effective services.

From that mission statement, five key Partnering Behaviours were established, setting an agreed standard stakeholders would hold each other to. 

Workshops were then held to consider what could pose a risk to people holding to those behaviours in the project’s business. The biggest identified risk was a change, whether through the passage of time or conscious decisions, such as variations. Therefore, a plan was put in place to minimise the risks around changes.

The Mission Statement, Partnering Behaviours, and Commandments of Change Management were combined into a poster format and are displayed prominently throughout the shared open-plan office space and in shared office spaces. These posters provide a regular reminder of what the parties have committed to and a reference point if anyone begins to stray from the behaviours agreed upon.

A key supporting measure was the humanising of the people. Joint events during and after work hours helped build personal rapport between the management and delivery teams of the parties. It may sound simple, but it is important to remember when involved in large, complex projects, sometimes with commercial pressures, that there are real people who are doing their best to deliver their jobs. 

ISO 44001: What is it? Should we adopt it?

ISO 44001 provides guidance and processes to identify and align management systems to improve collaborative business relationships. The Standard “…specifies requirements for the effective identification, development and management of collaborative business relationships within or between organizations” and “recognizes that effective collaboration requires two or more organizations to engage together and that management systems need to accommodate the joint activities of the parties.”

The accreditation process involves significant input from all stakeholders and may not be appropriate or needed for all PPP projects. 

Key Lessons Learned

All projects can distil and benefit from these takeaways as they seek to develop collaborative relationships:

1Create a Management Plan – document what the parties seek to achieve and how they plan to do so. All stakeholders need to buy in at the senior level.
2Establish a dedicated Partnership Board – a joint body with governance over activity, responsibility for setting annual shared objectives, and acting as an escalation point if required. This should be a dedicated body, not an agenda item, at the end of a separate meeting where time and focus can be squeezed
3Track the benefits – reiterate and remind everyone what the relationships deliver and the benefits of collaborative working. Celebrate the shared successes and the value that they can add.

Jon Brazier, Project Director, Modus

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