How Do You Determine Resources for Vital Business Projects?

Written by Lucy Bielby on Apr 30, 2018

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As an Interim leader, do you have experience in hiring for change / transformation programmes? If so, what would your advice be to organisations?

EO Executives was originally founded on Interim Management but evolved to meet market demands and has operated as both an Interim Management and Executive Search Consultancy for many years now.

Given EO’s value proposition, our team of experts therefore understand that resourcing top talent across the board in today's business climate is extremely challenging.

Most organisations that we work with are either in growth or change mode, and Practice Leads are typically engaged by these clients to source an immediate interim solution to support delivery of such major strategic programs.

Nonetheless, is an Interim Manager always the most suitable resource to provide input and expertise for vital projects?

Having provided both permanent and interim solutions for numerous organisations, I have decided to share the three core options, that I view, as the most strategic (along with the pros and cons) when establishing a project team to drive major organisational transformations.

Interim Managers

Interim/ Transformation Managers are usually highly skilled experts that have extensive experience of working in the client’s role. Due to their level of experience, they have an understanding of how to best approach assignments and offer minimal risk and maximise return on investment.

Pros

  • Interim managers are usually highly involved in all aspects of a transformation, and therefore will not only lead, but will also instrument and execute.    
  • Interims are great at training internal teams, which will ensure knowledge is transferred, teams are developed, and processes are established, even when the interim has completed their assignment.
  • Interim managers can be hired within days, and on flexible contracts that offer the ability to scale up and down rapidly on projects.
  • Interims are highly experienced individuals, who are often industry and functional experts.
  • Interim Managers will have sensitivity to an organisation ethos but are not constrained by its politics. Meaning they are Impartial – they are there to do the best for the business with no hidden agenda.
  • An interim manager will engage their experience to Bring bespoke models / project management frameworks that are tailored to individual businesses requirements.
  • Interim Managers typically operate via their own limited company- and can offer cost effective solutions-  usually half the day rate of traditional consulting houses.

Cons

  • A client will need to define a brief to determine the deliverables. For instance, will the interim be engaged to consult? Or will they also be involved in the implementation?
  • Interims are utilised in a different way to Management Consultants, and thus cultural fit may be more important.
  • Interim Mangers typically operate independently and will need managing in a unique well to other employees-this may take some getting used to.

Management Consultants

Management Consultants are typically engaged to analyse pre-existing organisational challenges and establish a strategy for improvement.

Many of the UK’s leading organisations engage Management Consultancies so it is hardly surprising that the UK’s Management Consulting marketing is estimated to be worth more than £7 billion.

So, why are so many organisations using this resource?

Pros

  • Management Consultancies have extensive benchmarking data that they can utilise on assignment.
  • They hire very bright, well educated, hardworking professionals.
  • They can bring IP, analytical power and case studies to the project table.
  • The end client has access to the wider resources of the consultancy firm.
  • The end client still has the final decision on implementation and how this is delivered.

Cons

  • Depending upon the brief, the consultancy may only provide advice, and not implement the proposed solutions.
  • As consultants are acting in in an advisory or faciliatory capacity, trying to attach accountability can be difficult for the end client.
  • Internal employees or Interims Managers are likely to be responsible for delivery of the recommendations by the Consultants – creating additional costs and gaps that need to be covered within the business.
  • Consultants often lack knowledge of in-house procedures- creating work conflict, as their mode of operation may affect workflow for employees.
  • Management Consultants have a dual relationship – they work for their employer, not the end client, which can create conflict in terms of what is right for the end client.

Internal consultants 

Before implementing a project, most organisations will initially identify strong internal resources/talent to lead critical transformation projects. However, it is rare a critical project will be solely lead by an internal team, nonetheless, crucial internal employees are involved in these initiatives to ensure energy once the interim exits.

Pros

  • Internal consultants will have existing stakeholder relationships and trust within the organisation.
  • Internal consultants can understand the change project in the context of the wider organisation.
  • They will have a vested interest in the success of the project.
  • Internal Consultants will already be on payroll- an accounted cost which supports cost reduction 
  • Internal employees can continue to play a key role, even once the assignment is completed.
  • Utilising internal resources provides individuals with new opportunities can support with retention of employees and the development of skills 

Cons

  • Moving an internal employee will create a gap within their current team.
  • These individuals will have enormous potential but will not always have the full skill set or experience required.
  • They are restrained by politics in what they can/ cannot do or say and may not have the objectivity of an Interim/Consultant.
  • Being great at their day job does not automatically mean that an internal consultant will be strong in leading a change project.
  • As an employee, internal consultants may find themselves being pulled back into their 'day job'.

Undoubtedly, each of the three options we have looked at have both pros and cons, and every scenario will be unique. Therefore, we would suggest that clients analyse all opinions available.

As an Interim leader, do you have experience in hiring for change / transformation programmes? If so, what would your advice be to organisations? Should they utilise one method, or a blend of all three? We would be keen to obtain your thoughts – so feel free to leave a comment below.

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