New to consortium working?

This page contains answers to some frequently asked questions about consortium working


What does it mean to work as part of a consortium?

The degree to which working as part of a consortium will impinge on your organsiation depends entirely on the arrangement. Some consortia are relatively loose associations and don’t have a big impact on an organisation’s room for maneuver. More formal forms of engagement – particularly when an organisation is contracted to deliver services through a consortium – will generally require some sharing of organisational sovereignty. You might be required to adopt shared data management systems, for example, or policies and standards, or submit to the consortium’s scrutiny. Have you also thought about the requirements on your time and resources of contributing to the consortium? And becoming part of a consortium might mean that you commit to not bidding for contracts apart from the consortium. Certainly becoming part of a consortium is a decision that should not be made lightly and your trustees need to be involved and approve any such decision. Working with other organisations to develop a consortium is a good way of shaping the rules that you will be required to sign up to.



Is this right for your organisation?

We have developed a Consortium Readiness Test to help assess whether working as part of a consortium will work for you.


First stage – organisational outlook


Is your organisation experiencing financial difficulties that are likely to persist for more than merely a short-term period?

  • Are you struggling with general management capacity?
  • Are you struggling with specific business development capacity, including writing bids/tenders and managing funding agreements/contracts?
  • Are you threatened by rival organisations potentially or actually competing for your resources?
  • Do you need to diversify your service offer and income mix?
  • Are you finding that what you are offering is too specialist or narrow and that this is preventing you from securing broad-based funding?
  • Do you hold an existing contract and is the commissioner threatening to bundle this up with a number of other contracts and re-tender it as a single, large scale commission?

If your answer to one or more of these questions is ‘yes’, then you should explore consortium working as a possible way forward.


Second stage – individual attitudes


  • Do you (and the other leaders within your organisation) have a long-term vision of where your organisation could get to?
  • Are you willing to share information with collaborators in an open and honest manner, without being too protective of your own commercial and wider business interests?
  • Are you willing to work through the challenges posed by the different styles, approaches and operating values adopted by individuals in partner organisations?
  • Are you ready to work through and manage potential conflicts of interest between individuals/organisations in a professional and pragmatic way?
  • Are you open to new ways of doing things?
  • Can you genuinely commit to change?


If your answer to these questions is ‘yes’, then you could be suited to working within a consortium structure.

What does the development process look like?

The development process depends a lot on what kind of consortium you choose to develop. Some consortia are led on by one organisation, and these are relatively easier to develop, since they can draw on that organisation’s capabilities and in many respects they are similar to bidding consortia.

By contrast to this, to develop a new consortium that isn’t owned by any one organisation requires more by way of investment in its infrastructure, and in the relationships that underpin it. The following diagram shows an outline of what the development stages for this kind of consortia look like.



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