Assigning Responsibilities between Business Partners

There are many factors that demand attention when considering a business partner, but one of the most consistent pressing concerns is the delegation of work and responsibility, or more simply, “who’s going to do what?” Another company may seem like a good candidate for a business partner in theory, but in reality, the delegation of work may make the business partnership undesirable.

Because of the internal strife that may result from an inappropriate assignment of work, this matter must be thought of and discussed prior to the formation of a business partnership. A recent Forbes article (Six Crucial Questions to Ask When Picking a Business Partner) explains that companies must consider this factor, because it may reveal that a business partnership is not only not needed, but could also have a negative effect on the bottom line profits of the individual companies:

“While the partners will most likely wear multiple hats at the start, there should be a delineation of responsibilities with assigned roles that play to each individual’s strengths. This will ensure that all aspects of the business are covered while also freeing up the day-to-days tasks from being performed by committee or consensus, slowing down the process. If two or more partners completely overlap skill sets and there is not enough of that work to require two partners, maybe one partner isn’t needed.”

Whether competing companies or companies within the supply chain form a business partnership, there should be an initial, thorough discussion about the specific responsibilities of each company. This may or may not trigger some concerns, such as whether they will generate enough revenue to support the partnership, or perhaps one firm isn’t necessarily needed because the services that they provide are unwanted or already provided. While the delineation of responsibilities may be a difficult discussion at the beginning of a business partnership, it may be impossible to do or even ineffective if done later in the partnership. If the companies are having a hard time assigning responsibilities, they may want to consider not entering the partnership and looking for alternative partners.

This delegation of responsibilities should begin before the partnership begins. Create a simple responsibility chart, and make sure both parties agree to their action items. Include on this chart of list of who is involved in the partnership, and the overall goals. Remember to start with the overall objectives of the partnership, and what each company wants from the alliance.

To learn more about how to create and sustain a strong partnership, join the Association of Strategic Alliances (ASAP). George Tyler, Chief Alliance Officer for 3rd Eagle, has earned a Certification of Achievement – Alliance Management (CA-AM), and George is the president of the Colorado Chapter of ASAP.

If you’re interested in business partners or would like assistance in delegating work in a business partnership, contact us.

— by George Tyler

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