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Identification of Partners and Potential Roles


Identifying and collaborating with good partners may strengthen your contribution to the development of smart cities and communities. The following steps can help your library achieve success in evaluating and selecting strategic partners.


Step 1: Define criteria for evaluating potential partners. Prior to communicating with potential partners, your library should take time to conduct the criteria for evaluating the partners. Here are some criteria that you could consider:

  • Who shares similar interests like your library in developing smart cities and communities?

  • Who can help your library enhance expertise in providing programs and services that contribute to developing smart cities and communities?


Step 2: Do not limit yourself to the partners you have collaborated with in the past, but also explore other organizations and individuals that may fit your needs and are also contributing to developing smart cities and communities. In this respect, think creatively to identify potential partners and utilize the experience of your board members, management team, and outside advisers to identify potential strategic partners.


Step 3: Once you have a broad list of potential partners, start prioritizing them. You may conduct a preliminary screen and assess the potential partners by asking some of the following questions:

  • What is the expertise of this potential partner in relation to others?

  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of this potential partner in relation to others?

  • To what extent may the potential partnership contribute to developing smart cities and communities?

  • How difficult is it to build a successful relationship with this potential partner, considering, among other, the similarities and differences in organization culture and the availability of resources?

  • What are the opportunity costs of not pursuing a partnership with this potential partner?


You may address these questions by using publicly available information, such as internal and external publications (e.g., newsletters, press releases, and annual reports) and local media news. You may also search the Internet to gather information about the organization’s characteristics, major initiatives, and profiles on members of the management team. This step can help your library conduct a preliminary prioritization on potential partners.


Step 4: Finalize the prioritization of potential partners through detailed assessment. In order to conduct such assessment, you may want to reach out to these potential partners and have a more in-depth conversation or conduct a site visit to better understand each other and the possibility of building a partnership that could contribute to the development of smart cities and communities. During this process, your organization may want to assess the following:

  • To what extent does the potential partner meet the criteria previously established (Step 1)?

  • What factors would influence benefits and costs of this partnership? Are they favorable? Controllable?

  • What are the key competencies required for the success of the partnership? Do the partners have these competencies?

  • What are the major investment requirements and timing necessary to make the partnership successful? Can we afford them?

  • Which key constituents must support this partnership for it to be successful? What is their degree of support?


After these steps, you may have a prioritized list of potential partners. The conversation that needs to follow will be much more formal and will address the options for setting up and structuring the partnership, jointly defining roles and responsibilities of each entity, defining the resource requirements (such as personnel, equipment, facilities, technology, etc.) and negotiations between the partners to reach agreements.


Although it may seem that setting up the partnership is the most important, Collaboration is indeed a continuous process where you recognize and better understand your partner’s expertise and roles on a regular basis.

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