If you want to facilitate a smooth and efficient working relationship, all relevant parties must first agree on a few critical aspects of the project. The ability to communicate ideas is integral to the creation of any stable working relationship. Before starting a joint project, discuss these five elements with each party.

1. Wants

What does each team member want to get out of the shared project? You may assume that your goals naturally match everyone else's, but that might not be the case. Ask every party to outline their wants and desires openly. Agreeing with an entity whose goals differ significantly from your own may lead to organizational difficulties.

Ideally, to preserve consistency and efficiency throughout the project, your goals should be in sync. Identify and explain to the other parties your company values and the ethics upon which you would want your enterprise judged. Open and unambiguous dialogue is the best way to remove the opportunity for misunderstanding.

2. Policies

Policies are self-imposed rules to which an organization adheres. It's essential for all parties to declare any plan they have regarding the project on which they will be working. Whether the other parties agree to follow the same policy is a matter of compromise. Each entity involved in the shared project may have plans of their own, so you should decide as a group which ones would benefit the project if adopted by every party.

Likewise, it may be necessary to temporarily alter some of your policies to facilitate a more efficient working relationship. Be willing to compromise to a degree but don't infringe upon your own moral or ethical view if it makes you uncomfortable to do so.

3. Milestones

Before starting work, identify and outline any critical milestones of the project, to ensure completion according to schedule and at a satisfactory standard. It's essential to agree to a timeline of events before beginning the project to avoid any misunderstandings or miscommunications further down the line.

Discuss which performance indicators you will use and agree upon a time and method for analyzing your collective performance. Once you reach an agreed milestone, make sure you establish a plan of communication that facilitates a smooth and professional discourse if needed. By acknowledging set milestones, the project will benefit from an added cohesiveness and increased efficiency.

4. Information

The success of any working relationship is wholly dependent on the smooth and straightforward sharing of information between all relevant parties. In the digital age, there are many options available to business for sharing data, but you still need to agree on which method to use. Discuss the benefits of each communication option before starting work, and decide on a regular schedule to keep every party updated.

Every member of the project should be able to access any information that is relevant to their work. If new data becomes available, it needs to get shared quickly. Once you've agreed on a method and schedule for doing so, make sure every individual is aware of the decision.

5. Trust

Ultimately, every successful relationship is built on a bedrock of trust. It can take time and experience to develop real confidence in another party, but you may initially have to make a small leap of faith based upon research and second-hand information. Once the project begins, you must trust the other party to be competent and professional when doing their job. If you don't, the relationship could be irrevocably impaired before it even gets going.

Working with other businesses can lead to great things. The ability of two or more parties to come together is helped immeasurably by agreeing upon a clear and defined plan of action. Take the time to adequately communicate your ideas, intentions, and worries with the other parties. A more cohesive and profitable working relationship will be your reward.

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