Collaborative Business Relationship Management Standard

ISO 44001

Collaborative Business Relationship Management

ISO 44001 is a standard to enable organisations of any size and sector to apply best practice principles to its own ways of working, to get the very most out of its business relationships.


The original PAS 11000 management system standard developed into BS 11000 providing a framework for collaborative business relationships to help companies develop and manage their interactions with other organisations for maximum benefit to all. Using an eight-stage approach, the framework was designed to enable organisations of any size and sector to apply best practice principles to its own ways of working, to get the very most out of its business relationships.

As with all recently updated versions of ISO standards, ISO 44001 has a common structure of 10 sections enabling any business, already working to an ISO standard anywhere in the world, to show evidence of:

  1. Scope
  2. Normative references
  3. Terms and definitions
  4. Context of the organisations
  5. Leadership
  6. Planning
  7. Support
  8. Operational awareness
  9. Performance evaluation
  10. Improvement

BS11000 developed into ISO 44001 and is aligned to all of the other ISO management standards based on the “Plan-Do-Check-Act” high-level structure.  The standard covers scope, normative references, terms and definitions, context of the organisation, leadership, planning, support, operations, performance evaluation and improvement.

The “meat” of this particular standard falls within the 8-stage approach inherent in business relationship management, namely:

Operational awareness
Including duties of the “Senior Executive Responsible”, setting governance, identifying operational objectives, prioritising new opportunities, development of required competences & behaviours, conducting initial risk assessments and establishing a relationship management plan.

Focusing on the business objectives and recognising the risks associated with greater integration including knowledge management and business continuity, underpinned by an initial exit strategy to identify key concerns

Internal assessment
Understanding the strength and weaknesses of our own organisations is critical if collaboration is to be successful. This includes processes, skills and experience compatible with the desired outcomes.

Partner selection
Finding the right partner is critical but frequently based on assumptions or long standing traditional relationships that can simply migrate. It is important to understand the profile you are looking for and how you will evaluate their capability to collaborate.

Working together
Establishing Joint governance for collaborative programmes and integrating this with effective contracting arrangements requires careful attention taking into consideration the joint objectives and those of the individual partners, and ensuring the incentives and measurement will support collaborative behaviours.

Value creation
The key to maintaining a strong relationship is to ensure that it remains current and drives innovation to bring additional value to the partners through joint continual improvement programmes.

Staying together
Joint management is crucial if relationships are to mature and support people and the business environment. Effective performance and behaviours should be monitored along with issues and disputes that will be inevitable but can strengthen relationships if handled effectively.

Exit strategy activation
Maintaining a joint exit strategy is important to keep the partners focused. At the same time having clear rules for disengagement will frequently improve engagement throughout the life of the relationship and into the future.

This process is demonstrated in the flow chart to the below.


As with any ISO management system approach, it must be effectively maintained and reviewed to ensure its continued appropriateness. Whilst collaborative application may involve multiple parties, the corporate processes and systems need to be maintained as well as harnessing experiences.

Why have it?

Collaborative business relationships have been shown to deliver a wide range of benefits, which enhance competitiveness and performance whilst adding value to organisations of all sizes. The publication of the ISO 44001 standard is a unique landmark for business.

Collaboration between organisations may take many forms from loose tactical approaches through to longer-term alliances or joint ventures. ISO 44001 does not enforce a single rigid approach but has been focused on providing a framework that can complement existing approaches where these are already in place. It also recognises that every relationship has its own unique considerations. For those organisations with well-established processes the framework provides a common language that can aid implementation and engagement.  For those starting out on the journey the framework creates a road map for development.



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