Organisations may establish formal ties for a number of reasons, such as:
- developing agreed procedures for how the organisations will relate to each another in conducting their separate services or activities, for example, referral protocols
- forming partnerships or consortia to undertake a one-off activity, project or other joint venture, for example, a joint tender
- forming partnerships for a longer-term activity or series of projects, for example, a joint venture to set up an ongoing service operated by two organisations
- to agree to share resources or expertise, for example, co-location of office premises
- to agree for one organisation to provide temporary auspice (legal governance) to another organisation.
Formal arrangements between organisations should be documented, and the documentation's type, extent and complexity will depend on the type of relationship being formed and the purpose of the collaboration. The most-common forms of documentation are:
- protocols - documented inter-agency procedures
- memoranda of understanding (MOU) - a broad agreement, usually documenting principles and general guidelines for a partnership or consortia
- agreements - more specific agreements, usually with some legal enforceability, that document the details of a partnership or consortia
- contracts - used when there will be significant consequences for participating organisations if partners do not keep to the agreement, or where complex issues are involved, such as when some joint ventures or amalgamations occur.