This innovative 4-way collaboration aimed to take advantage of the synergies between its organisations. The Foundation also engaged the support of employees within Vodafone UK to share their skills and expertise and to provide practical support to the three charities.
Sarah Shillito (Senior Manager, The Vodafone UK Foundation) stated: “My expertise is in programme identification, measurement and evaluation and not project management. I am a creative thinker. I needed to employ external help in order to shape this partnership, make it happen, and keep the momentum going to ensure that it moved forward on an ongoing basis. I needed someone to put my visions into a structure.”
The charities were more accustomed to competing with each other for funding, so the formation of the collaboration needed facilitation in the early days to clarify the shared values and build transparency and trust. This linked with a need for programme and project management support, which together would accelerate the delivery of joint objectives and projects, and maximise the effectiveness of knowledge sharing.
Red Ant Consulting was commissioned to help structure the programme and facilitate cross organisational working. This involved establishing the partnership governance, running joint workshops to maximise partnership opportunities, and driving ongoing progress reviews. Red Ant provide a flexible and tailored service that makes it more straightforward for the client to understand and remain involved in the activity.
As Sarah Shillito reflected: “I do not want to see solely process, I prefer to see action plans, so the draft proposals outlining the way forward came to me for approval and input, then they (Red Ant) make all the arrangements necessary to move the partnership forward. This includes organizing meetings with associated administration, consulting on agenda items, facilitating the sessions, producing feedback and circulating comments and changes.”
Sarah Shillito was pleased with the approach that Red Ant took, saying: “They absolutely understand what we want, a bespoke, personalised service, not just a regurgitation of a project management tool as can happen with other consultants!” Sarah listed other benefits such as the fact that Red Ant act as a neutral party, remaining independent when in partner meetings. “They are not afraid to challenge thinking and process.”
Sarah concluded: “Red Ant provides an excellent service. The work they do for me is entirely with charities and I think their personalities are particularly well suited to this sector - they have the corporate know how and professionalism, with sufficient sensitivity to work well with the charity sector.”