Four Reasons Why a Professional Interim is a Smarter Choice than a Management Consultant?

Adam Smith Institute

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English: Francis Maude MP, Minister for the Ca...
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Regular readers of this blog might to interested in which posting has proved to be the most popular. By far the most popular post, so far, has been “What’s the Difference between an Interim Manager and a Management Consultant?”  This has been closely followed by “Interim Management – Seven Key Trends“.

This week, I have been actively micro-blogging “interim management”, using Twitter and citing earlier blogs, targeting the media, Members of Parliament, and the UK Government. There is still a compelling case for the interim management industry to seriously strengthen its marketing proposition but I fear that short-term, funding may be the limiting factor.

Readers of this blog will know that there are two over-riding influences that are destroying the traditional interim management industry and driving it towards commoditization and contracting, namely:

  1. CATCH 22 (the Cabinet Office‘s central controls, curtailing normal supply and demand behaviour)
  2. FRAMEWORK AGREEMENTS (these were the responsibility of Office of Government Commerce {OGC} – recently subsumed into the Cabinet Office).

With the Adam Smith Institute highlighting this week that austerity was a mirage and Private Sector growth still very much a damp squib, the Coalition Government urgently needs a NEW CATALYST TO ACTUALLY GET THINGS DONE, I.E. DELIVERY OF TRANSFORMATION.  I recommend they TURN TO PROFESSIONAL INTERIMS  FOR DELIVERY OF BOTH COST-CUTTING AND GROWTH (I plan to focus on growth in a future blog).  

Why should the Government turn to Professional Interims rather than Management Consultants (their normal source when they are knowledge constrained)?:


Professional Interims advise, implement and transfer knowledge, whereas management consultants mainly advise (occasionally implements) but retains proprietary knowledge and techniques 


Professional Interims typically cost half the price of branded Management Consultants  


Professional Interims are typically seasoned, board-level “heavy-weights” (got the T-shirt), have the expertise, experience, maturity, confidence and gravitas compared to Management Consultants who are typically Subject Matter Experts rather than executives, often young, with no real industry experience and dependent upon structured methodologies and being a cog in a large teams of consultants


Finally, Professional Interims are always non-aligned, politically neutral, and more naturally sit client-side, rather than supplier-side, like most management consultants.

(Obviously, there are ultra-large, high risk projects where the size and breadth of the branded consultancy is a compelling feature – on the other hand, the Cabinet Office has recognized the very high risks associated with this type of programme, especially in relation to technology – the National Audit Office provides further independent insight into the Government’s record on deploying consultants).

7 responses

  1. Pingback: The death of the interim management industry? « Dr Alf's Blog

  2. Pingback: Interim Management: Ten Emerging Trends and Outlook for the Future | Dr Alf's Weekly Blog

  3. Pingback: UK Government’s Strategic Vision for Shared Services and Twelve Open Questions? | Dr Alf's Weekly Blog

  4. Pingback: How to Leverage UK Economic Growth: Positive Industry Policies and Deployment of Professional Interims? | Dr Alf's Weekly Blog

  5. There are other compelling reasons to use an interim or interims rather than consultants:

    –Speed-in that an experienced interim has every incentive to work rapidly and mindfully towards completion of the engagement and will not create psychological dependency on the part of the client.

    –Lighter Footprint/Minimal disruption.Because interims are people who “get it “and are people with experience, an assignment which might otherwise take large numbers of consultants to: scope, undertake and complete, will almost always involve fewer interims.

    This means that client staff are able to get on with their work without the constant interruptions created by youthful and enthusiastic consultants going through a learning curve.

    In addition smaller numbers of interims are less unsettling to staff who might otherwise begin to wonder what the sudden influx of consultants was all about and what was being discussed in the office set aside for their use in another part of the building.

    Conversely with interims interspersed with and sitting next to interims there is greater transparency and at least the feeling that the interim is “in the thick of it” and part of the fabric,rather than an imposed and forced intrusion on people trying to do their jobs.

    –No Incentive To Push IT or Outsourcing/Retention of Embedded Value

    The Big 4 consultancies and the major systems integration houses are all focused on selling and promoting the use of IT/BPO services and outsourcing within their specialist outsourcing divisions and hubs.

    This means that with each new client they take on they are profiting from the solution, the sale of software, hardware and services, plus gaining embedded value from scale economies that arise from breaching trigger points through extra volume.

    Naturally they are in business to make a profit and optimise shareholder value, but this means that there are extra mouths to feed which would not be the case with an interim.

    Secondly there is an incentive to identify parts of the client’s operations as “non core” or “peripheral” which does not exist with an interim who has no axe to grind.

    Even with tightly drawn agreements there are ways in which an outsourced service or the individuals providing it can effectively be sold twice thus creating windfall profits which the client does not benefit from.

    An interim would take a non partisan view and help the client draw up outsourcing arrangements that benefitted the client rather than the shareholders of the outsourcer and the bonuses of Big 4 partners

    • John,

      Many thanks. On this occassion, I agree with you 100%:)

      I was trying to keep the blog short & punchy, otherwise I hope I would have made similar points to embellish the argument around the four key reasons.

      Thanks again!


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