Managing the Partnership with Workplans and Technology

Workplans manage the activities of the partnership, provide for accountability, and maintain communication among the partners.  The formal partnership agreement will guide the organization uses to measure its productivity and success. The work plan outlines the details of how the work will be carried out.  It will include progress checkpoints that allow the organization to monitor and adjust as it pursues its over-arching mission.  The work plan will need to establish buy-in, be realistic, measurable and establish accountability. (2013)

Establish Buy-in

Work collaboratively with partners to create a shared vision to motivate people to action. (2013)

  • Prepare jointly for the partnership, agree on how decisions will be made, issues resolved, and the structure and hierarchy of the partnership. 
  • Co-create initiatives and projects the partnership will work on. 
  • Decide together on goals, objectives, and timelines. (2016)

Be Realistic

Build-in progress checkpoints and ensure that you stay within the scope of the project. (2013)

  • Concentrate your efforts on a few specific areas that linked to the shared objective. 
  • Set expectations of what can and cannot be achieved within the established timeline of the partnership. (2016)


Set short-term, intermediate, and long-term outcomes for your project.  (2013)

  • Be clear about how you will measure success. 
  • Set a time stamp on the partnership plan for re-alignment &/or exit strategies (2016)


Set guidelines for accountability and identify the interdependence of activities so participants can see how they fit in the puzzle. (2013)

  • Regularly assess deliverables
  • Plan for regular course corrections
  • Focus on Lessons Learned

Leveraging Technology Tools

Technology tools help support continuous communication. Workplans should consider a wide variety of technology tools to allow for cross-collaboration and program monitoring. Below are some key areas you might want to consider incorporating technology tools with some of the top providers listed for each type. (2013)



Newsletters/Mailing Lists



Document Sharing Services

Collaboration Apps

Project Management

Real-World Partnerships: Work Plans and Activities

Both organizations we interviewed took a very different approach to work plans and activities. One common theme between both organizations was to allow for opportunities for independent interpretation and taking charge while providing necessary supports for the partners to be successful.

Hope & A Future highlighted the fact that “there is nothing even about it.” While they understand that partnership is a give and take process they point out that equal is not necessarily equitable. Some partners take on a lot, while others take on a little. The most important aspect is that they are honest about what they can take on. They emphasized the importance to have flexibility with implementation while still clearly communicating expectations. Deadlines are an important aspect of managing the partnership, by providing deadlines that allow flexibility to address issues it keeps things running smoothly. In addition, they noted the importance of knowing your people and who can take charge and who needs detailed implementation plans. While they default to providing detailed implementation plans in most scenarios, they keep their flexibility by trusting for individual interpretation and implementation.

The House of Refuge takes a more hands-off approach, encouraging partners to take the lead in designing and establishing events for the program. They provide support and guidance but leave the details to the partner organization. They believe this supports a sense of accomplishment for the organizations that work with their program and allows them to feel confident in the contribution they are making to the lives of the families they serve.


Kania, J. and Kramer, M. (2013) Embracing Emergence: Collective Impact Addresses Complexity. Stanford Social Innovation Review, January 2013.  Retrieved from: (Links to an external site.)

KPMG International Cooperative (2016). Unlocking the Power of Partnership a Framework for Effective Cross-Sector Collaboration to Advance the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, p 2-19.  Retrieved From: (Links to an external site.)

Strengthening Nonprofits: A Capacity Builder’s Library (2010). Partnerships: Frameworks for Working Together, Chapter 5: Managing the Partnership with Workplans and technology. National Resource Centers.  Retrieved from: (Links to an external site.)