Component 3: Principles of joint working

What works well

As well as agreeing a shared vision and values, partnerships that we followed also felt that it was vital to agree how the partnership will work together to achieve its shared goals.

A principles of joint working agreement, is more detailed than a memorandum of understanding and sets the expectations of conduct for all partners involved and enables the partnership to hold each other to account.

When developing these, conversations should cover what is expected from partners, timeframes, who has authority to make decisions on what, and what actions will be taken if partners are not upholding the agreement. These conversations can be tricky and it can be worth getting an experienced external facilitator to help navigate the discussion.

NCVO advice on joint working agreements

Likely positive impacts

Developing and agreeing principles of joint working has many positive impacts, not just for those in the partnership, but for others wishing to work with and engage with them, such as public sector colleagues. This includes:

  • developed and strong relationships
  • clearer understanding of individual and partnership roles and responsibilities
  • smooth and transparent decision making processes mutual respect and value across all parties
  • more cohesive joint working with clear boundaries
  • the creation of more stable and sustainable partnerships.

To realise these benefits, it is important all partners agree and sign up to them. Not having these in place often leads to conflict and the dissolution of partnerships.

Example: Cross-sector documentation

A cross-sector collaboration in Salford coproduced documentation to underpin their relationships and engagement processes.

Salford Together (partnership of NHS organisations) and the local voluntary sector created a memorandum of understanding (MoU) through Salford Council for Voluntary Service. This gives the voluntary sector an equitable role in Salford Together as a key strategic partner in health, social care and wellbeing.

Partners then created a collaboration agreement which provides the tools to deliver the ambitions set out in the MoU, enabling partners to provide the best services and support for the people of Salford.

Enabling factors

  • Backfill funding for a partnership coordinator.


  • Positive approaches and relationships between sector partners and the health and social care sector, which have encouraged collaboration, built trust and enabled transformational work.

Read the full case study on NCVO Knowhow