Submitted by Shawn Durr on June 6, 2024 - 14:02

Strategic Partnerships: The Role of Feasibility Assessments in Ensuring Success

Partnership Feasibility Assessments are a pivotal part of the collaboration process. Conducted during the Exploration phase of our Six Step Collaboration Process, these assessments serve as the first decision point. They provide an objective analysis of a potential partnership, outlining key findings, opportunities, challenges, and recommendations. This analysis is based on an assessment of an organization’s compatibility, goals, and strategic fit, serving as a roadmap for the decision-making process. While these assessments are a valuable tool, they complement, not replace, the due diligence required in the partnership planning phase. Comprehensive due diligence is essential for the success and sustainability of any strategic collaboration.

Each feasibility assessment we conduct at Mission+Strategy is tailored to the unique context of the partnerships and the specific goals, priorities, and needs of each client. The assessment can focus on a broad or narrow scope, depending on the partnership’s context, covering ten potential areas from Mission and Vision Alignment to Financial Viability to Culture.

The strength of a feasibility assessment lies in its flexibility. The focus can be adjusted to concentrate on the 3 or 4 key areas most crucial for decision-making in a specific partnership. This targeted approach often leads to more effective outcomes and ensures that the feasibility assessment contributes to informed and strategic decision-making.

In this article, we will run through the ten potential areas that organizations can select for their feasibility assessment. These areas span a wide range of considerations and provide unique insights that significantly contribute to the evaluation of a potential partnership. By understanding and assessing these areas, organizations can ensure a comprehensive and effective feasibility study, tailored to their specific needs and goals.

Mission and Vision Alignment

Mission and Vision Alignment assesses the degree of compatibility between the missions and visions of the organizations. It evaluates the potential benefits a merger or partnership could bring in advancing each organization's mission and vision. This area also identifies core organizational challenges or priorities that can be addressed through a collaborative strategy. It identifies the goals of a collaboration and contemplates any necessary adjustments to align long-term goals. Assessing this area helps ensure that the partnership aligns with both organizations' strategic objectives and contributes to their mutual growth and success.

Organizational Culture

Organizational Culture examines the cultural differences between the organizations. It examines how these differences could impact the partnership and how they can be bridged. This area also focuses on the management of cultural integration to ensure a smooth transition during the merger or partnership. Assessing cultural fit is critical to preventing cultural clashes and facilitating a successful partnership.

Programs and Services

Programs and Services focuses on the interplay between the programs and services offered by each organization. It evaluates how these offerings complement each other and identifies any redundancies that can be eliminated or efficiencies that can be gained. This area also explores whether the organizations would be pooling or trading programs and services. Pooling refers to a scenario where the organizations engage in similar activities and are combining efforts. Trading, on the other hand, implies that the organizations perform generally different functions and are integrating into a continuum of services. This area of assessment can strategies for optimizing resource allocation and enhancing service delivery in a partnership.

Financial Viability

Financial Viability involves an in-depth analysis of each organization’s financial health. It assesses the potential impact a partnership could have on the financial stability of the new entity. This area also explores the potential financial benefits that could arise from a partnership, such as cost savings, increased funding opportunities, or enhanced financial resilience. This assessment area is crucial in ensuring that the partnership is financially sustainable and beneficial for both organizations. It helps to mitigate financial risks and lays the groundwork for a financially secure partnership.

Fundraising Function

Fundraising Function assesses the comparative effectiveness of the fundraising operations of each organization. It evaluates the potential impact a partnership could have on fundraising efforts, considering both the challenges and opportunities it might present. This area also identifies opportunities to enhance resource development through a partnership, such as leveraging shared networks, combining fundraising events, or pooling resources for grant applications. Assessing this area can identify ways the partnership can support and potentially amplify the fundraising capabilities of both organizations, contributing to their financial sustainability and growth.

Governance and Leadership

Governance and Leadership assessment focuses on the organization and structure of the boards and leadership within each organization. It evaluates the roles, responsibilities, and decision-making processes that characterize the functioning of the boards. This area also examines the level of trust among leaders within and between the organizations. It explores the dynamics of leadership and governance and how they might be affected or enhanced through a partnership.

Staffing and Human Resources

Staffing and Human Resources assessment delves into the staffing structure of each organization. It evaluates how a merger or partnership might affect staff roles, responsibilities, and morale. This area explores the potential impacts on the workforce, including changes in job roles, shifts in responsibilities, and the potential effects on employee morale. Assessment of this area can help to smooth the transition for staff during a merger or partnership, maintaining a positive work environment, and retaining valuable human resources.

Legal and Regulatory Compliance

Legal and Regulatory Compliance assessment involves a thorough review of any legal or regulatory barriers that could hinder a partnership. It identifies the approvals needed from regulatory bodies or funders to legitimize the partnership. This area of assessment helps to mitigate legal risks and ensures that the partnership operates within the bounds of the law.

Communication Planning

Communication Planning assessment focuses on the engagement and information dissemination strategy for key stakeholders, including donors, clients, volunteers, staff, and community members. It evaluates how these stakeholders will be kept informed and involved throughout the entire partnership process. This area also considers the communication strategies that will be employed to manage perceptions and maintain transparency. Assessment of this area can help ensure that all stakeholders are adequately informed and that their perceptions are managed effectively and that stakeholder trust is maintained during the partnership process.

Organizational Readiness

Organizational Readiness assessment delves into the past experiences of each organization with mergers or partnerships. It evaluates the lessons learned from these experiences and identifies best practices that can be applied to the current partnership. This area also identifies potential barriers to a successful partnership and legacy issues that must be addressed for the partnership to succeed. These issues could include decisions about the continuing Executive Director, the name of the new organization, and other significant factors.

Final Thoughts

Partnership Feasibility Assessments are an invaluable tool in the collaboration process. They provide a comprehensive and objective analysis of potential partnerships, offering key insights that inform strategic decision-making. By exploring areas ranging from Mission and Vision Alignment to Financial Viability to Culture, these assessments ensure that partnerships are built on a solid foundation of compatibility and strategic fit. Remember, each partnership is unique, and so is each feasibility assessment. By tailoring the assessment to the specific needs and goals of your organization, you can ensure a successful and sustainable collaboration.