Partner an interim provider to see real business benefits

Interim
providers have come a long way from being mere quick-fix outfits. Used
properly, they can rival management consultancies in offering long-term
business strategies and solutions

By
Neil Fogarty, practice director of IMS Interim Management

The
use of interim executives for gap and project management is well established,
but organisations are also increasingly aware of the value a strategic
partnership with an interim management service can bring to business at a
higher level.

Industry
perceptions of management consultancy have shifted sufficiently for
organisations to move into ‘strategic out-tasking’ by utilising interim
executives and independent consultants to deliver additional expertise or to
lead distinct programmes of work.

When
a management consultancy successfully sells a solution to a client, the client
often requests the CVs of the individuals assigned to the project – this is
nothing more than a sophisticated resourcing model that interim providers can
match with a number of advantages.

Why
not use your IM provider to derive a solution – as you would with your
management consultancy – covering all aspects from strategic and operational
review through to implementation? The right provider can craft you a solution
which is more cost-effective and can offer benefits not available from a
management consultancy.

First,
apply the management consultancy approach of the ‘five whys’ until you are able
to get to the core of your issue:

1.  What you see is what you get – when using an
interim provider, the person you meet to discuss the issue will personally
deliver the solution.

2.  Access the knowledge network – the provider
actively manages its considerable network of interim executives which will
include the skills and experience relevant to the task.

3.  Credibility – the career of an interim
executive rests on their reputation. The performance of an individual employee
of a management consultancy that is below client expectation may be absorbed by
the reputation of the consultancy itself. Whereas the interim executive is
constantly challenged to meet and exceed client expectations.

4.  Sector and functional expertise – the
interim executive has sector and functional skills to implement the assignment
– leveraging off their own practical experience as opposed to the reputation of
the management consultancy.

5.  Transparency – the provider is open about
such topics as margins. Have you ever asked a management consultancy what
margins they are earning?

With
an interim executive, consultancy continues into implementation, and this is
one of the many reasons why the ROI realised from using an interim executive
compares so favourably with that of a management consultancy.

To
manage the relationship of such an offering, consider some of the following
points:


Have clarity about what you want. If you are not clear, don’t be frightened to
ask the provider to come in with a subject expert.


Do not be put off by a provider offering more than one person to deliver a
solution – you can use your provider to co-ordinate this resource.


Always focus on the ‘solution’ that you require rather than the technicality of
the CV.


Use one provider. ‘Testing the water’ may be considered good practice when
dealing with agencies but when you’re looking at business-critical issues,
cultivate rather than alienate.


Look upon the provider for what it truly is: a very sophisticated team of
consultants and implementers.

The
current market is not so much overcrowded, as cluttered, which can result in a
confusing message about the application and benefits of interim executives. I
hope that this article has outlined an alternative, more structured and
strategic option for the use of the interim executive.

Neil
Fogarty is a practice director of IMS Interim Management, a leading interim
management service provider and a member of the Interim Management Association

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