Utilising Professional Interims to Help Reduce the Budget Deficit – Removing Catch 22? – Best Blogs Series

Today, I am using my blog to publish a White Paper that I wrote in consultation with colleagues.

This White Paper has been used by a number of Professional Interims in meetings with their Members of Parliament. The White Paper has been forwarded to Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office.

For the readers convenience, I am restating the underlying problem below:


The Government is asking the Public Sector (both Central and Local Government) to cut costs significantly to substantially reduce the budget deficit before the next election. Secondly, the Government has an ambitious Reform Agenda that will probably impact every Government department and local authority.

Effective reform normally requires vision, political will, public support, leadership and effective transformation – with sustained momentum and huge intensification of effort. With Public Sector organizations likely to be weakened by the cuts, there is a very high risk that they will struggle with the transformation programmes required to deliver the Reform Agenda.

In the past, the Public Sector would have turned to consultants, contractors and professional interims to augment their own resources to help implement major transformation programs.

As part of its austerity measures to cut costs, the Cabinet Office introduced blanket controls on all consultants, contractors and professional interims. These controls require a valid business case, plus ministerial and Cabinet Office approval. In the short-term, these controls have been effective in reducing costs. Within the Professional Interim (“PI”)  industry, these controls have become known as the “Catch 22 controls” (“Catch 22”) because a PI or consultant is often required to help draft the business case.

The Public Sector will need to turn to the major outsourced services providers and big consultancies to deliver the programs to deliver the Reform Agenda. Despite protracted procurement and contract negotiation processes, these large firms will be ultimately be motivated to look after their own commercial interests. Unfortunately, as many National Audit Office publications show, there is a poor record of major technology and transformation programmes in the Public Sector – indeed that record was established in more normal times, rather than exceptional times.

This White Paper argues that the selective removal of the Cabinet Office’s Catch 22 controls, and the limited deployment of PIs, working client-side alongside Public Sector managers, would be in the national interest. It will also support the Government’s Small Business and Enterprise agenda

Four Reasons Why a Professional Interim is a Smarter Choice than a Management Consultant? – Best Blogs Series

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 theUK 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).