Reviewing an Unsuccessful Community-Business Partnership

If the community-business partnership your business was part of was not the success you wanted it to be, it is important you are able to put a finger on why it has not worked as planned.

By undertaking a quick but thorough review, you can look at the partnership you have just completed, what factors prevented it achieving what it set out to do, and identify any good or bad points to keep in mind for your next partnership arrangement.

And while you may well have some feelings about what occurred in the partnership to send it off the rails, it is important you are as objective as possible in conducting your review. This ensures a fair and reasonable assessment of the partnership – its faults, any positives and what you can do to do better next time.

The Final Review Checklist

The success or lack of it in your partnership can be measured by answering a mixture of qualitative and quantitative questions.
  • Qualitative questions measure what can be "less tangible" things like attitudes, processes and improvements in relationships. These questions can be very important in a review of an unsuccessful partnership, as they can help you understand more about the reasons why your partnership did not work.
  • Quantitative questions rely more on solid data to measure successes in the partnership, its projects and aims and are probably easier to answer than qualitative questions. The answers to these questions are also likely to reveal some positive results from the partnership.

The following list of yes/no and descriptive answer questions can help your business evaluate its community business partnership – areas that went well, and places where it fell down.

Planning and Aims:
  • Did your choice of partner end up being a good one, or could it have been better?
    • Was the community group partner the "right fit" for you, and from the right sector?
    • If not, why not, and in what ways were you still able to work constructively with the partner you chose?

  • Was the partnership model you chose appropriate for both partners' needs and abilities, as well as what it offered to the community?
    • Would you choose the same partnership model if you had your time over?

  • Did your partnership achieve any of the aims you and your community group partner wanted, or did it in any way benefit the community?

  • What were the partnership's community objectives?
    • Were any or all of them achieved?

  • What were your business' objectives in the partnership?
    • Were any or all of them achieved?

  • Where did the partnership fall down? What didn't it achieve for you, your partner or the community?

  • How did your partnership structure work overall?
    • Was the planning both parties put in beforehand adequate, or could it have been improved in some areas?
    • Did a lack of planning contribute to the partnership not working?

Resources, Responsibilities and Benefits:
  • Did the benefits derived from the partnership justify the costs/time/resources you put in?
    • If not, pinpoint the areas in which they did not.

  • How was your business able to contribute to the strategy?
    • How do you feel your contribution was viewed by your partner?

  • Did you hold up your end of the bargain in meeting your partnership responsibilities, or did you exceed them or fall short?
    • If you fell short in delivering on your responsibilities, was this overcome or was it a reason why the partnership did not work?

  • Did your community group partner meet its responsibilities, exceed them or fall short?
    • Again, if they fell short, was this a reason why the partnership did not succeed?

  • Will there be lasting results that emanate from your partnership?

Other Issues:
  • Were there any problems or conflicts during the partnership?
    • If so, what were they about?
    • Were they resolved? How were they resolved?
    • Did they contribute to the partnership breaking down?

  • How were your staff involved?
    • Were they happy to be involved?
    • Did they offer constructive feedback on the partnership and what was their reaction to the partnership?
    • Did the contribution of staff make any difference to the partnership or delay the partnership's failure?

  • What sort of feedback was gained from those outside the partnership?
    • From the media, local authorities, other businesses or bodies, the wider community?
    • Was this feedback interpreted and used in the partnership?
    • Did it help or hinder the partnership?

  • How would you rate the communication within the partnership?
    • Were your communication levels up to the mark, and did your partner listen to, note or act on what you had to say?
    • If not, did this contribute to the deterioration of the partnership?

  • What has your organisation learned about partnerships from this arrangement?