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What are the best resources for your projects?

What are the best resources for your projects?

Lucy Bielby Market Insight

What are the best resources for your projects?

As a result of COVID-19, for many change has now become ‘business as usual’. We understand that for many organisations, the chance of getting back to pre-crisis levels of business activity is a long way off. According to recent reports, McKinsey Global Institute and Oxford Economics have estimated that it will take at least five years on average for large businesses, and much longer for small ones.

Therefore, for all businesses, it will be critical to make the right investments if they are going to have the best chance of recovery and growth. This will be a tough challenge at a time when budgets are being slashed and spending frozen.

As a specialist HR provider, we understand that resourcing projects is both challenging and also a significant opportunity to change the capabilities within the business. Most of our clients are either in growth or change mode as a result of the Pandemic and need immediate help with their workforce on major strategic programs. But where should you turn to obtain the input and expertise for vital projects? 

I have looked at the three main resourcing options that are available (along with the potential pros and cons) when compiling a project team to drive transformation:


Interim Professionals

As mentioned in my last blog, simply put, Interim HR is the use of HR experts on a temporary/ short-term basis. However, the term Interim HR in the truest sense relates to a group of individuals that are proven, experts in their field (in this case Human Resources) and are typically engaged by organisations to solve critical business challenges. They bring with niche skill sets, expertise and leadership capabilities required to drive forward change.

These individuals are referred to as Interim or Transformation Managers and are typically experienced business leaders who now operate through their own individual limited companies.

From our experience, we know that Interims are often individuals that have spent time ‘in the client’s seat’, giving them a deep understanding of the typical requirements and deliverables of a project.

Interims aren’t a long term hiring solution for an organisation but are a valuable resource for achieving fast turnaround, rapid results and supporting in driving business forwards. Whether an organisation is undergoing a complete transformation or only requires a consultant on an ad-hoc basis. Interim consultants will take the lead on a range of business-critical projects where internal resource isn’t available or sits outside the skill set of the organisation. 

So, what are the benefits of hiring an Interim Manager?

Pros
  • Interim Managers are ‘hands-on’ and will not only advise, but can also implement and execute.
  • Often working other project resources, they bring subject matter expertise, business knowledge and an external perspective. Transferring knowledge to internal teams, ensuring employees are educated and the project is a success.
  • Interim Managers can be sourced within days. They are usually engaged on flexible contracts, which offer the ability to quickly scale up and down on projects.
  • The client can choose which individuals they want working on the project. Often this is via a shortlist provided by an Interim Management consultancy/ Interim Provider. 
  • Interim Managers are impartial. An Interim is engaged to do the best for the business with no hidden agenda.
  • Interim Managers bring bespoke models/project management frameworks that are tailored to the individual business requirements.
  • Interim Managers offer cost-effective solutions (you only pay for the days they work) and usually at half the day rate of traditional consulting houses.
  • Many Interim Managers have worked within Management Consultancy so have an understanding of ‘both sides’.

Cons
  • Interim Managers are utilised in a unique way to Management Consultants, and thus cultural fit will be key to success.
  • If assembling a team of Interim Managers for a project, there may be multiple recruitment processes.
  • Interim Managers will need to be ‘managed’ in a different way to permanent employees. They operate independently and are ultimately engaged through their own limited company. When utilised correctly, an Interim Manager acts as a Consultant to a business. 
  • With the changes in IR35, there will need to be a structured brief defining the key deliverables of their assignment. For example, has the Interim Manager been hired to advise and consult? Or is their objective to implement and lead a change and transformation?

Management Consultants
The UK’s management consulting market has grown significantly over the past few years. 

Management consultants are experts who are trained to solve complex problems, devise strategies and improve the financial and operational health of their clients' organisation. 

Management Consultants primarily focus on improving organisational performance by analysing the existing challenges and developing improvement plans. An organisation is likely to engage a Management Consultancy who would then resource a team of consultants who have expertise in a certain area, which the organisation may not have internally. As Consultants do not have the ‘day job’ to do as well, they solely focus on the project on hand without getting distracted by the day-to-day running of the business. 

Consultancies range in what they provide, with larger firms offering end-to-end solutions while others may focus their expertise in a specific area. 

What are the benefits of hiring Management Consultants?
  • Management Consultancies have extensive benchmarking data and a view across industries.
  • 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.
  • Project teams are typically compiled of a number of individuals 
  • There is no hiring/interview process 
  • The end client still has the final decision on implementation and how this is delivered.

Cons
  • An increasing consulting market means that talent retention has become a major issue for consultancies, with many consultants looking to move ‘in house’
  • Consultants are often incentivised to ‘land and expand’, cross-selling other revenue streams. Many Consultants having a revenue target
  • As consultants typically act through an advisory or faciliatory capacity, attaching accountability can be difficult.
  • Depending on the brief, you may only be provided advice, and the consultancy may not be involved in the implementation of the proposed solutions.
  • Internal employees or Interims Managers may be responsible for delivery – this creates additional costs and gaps to cover within the business.
  • Consultants often lack knowledge of in-house procedures. This can create work conflict, as their mode of operation may affect workflow for your regular employees.
  • Consultants are tied into a dual relationship and as they the Management Consultancy, not the end client. This can sometimes be conflicted in terms of what is right for the end client.


Internal Resources
When starting a new project within the organisation, businesses will often look internally to identify strong performers to run business-critical change projects. It is however rare that momentous change projects will be fulfilled entirely by an internal team. Nonetheless, it is equally vital that internal team members are involved in these types of projects as this will prevent the programme from losing momentum after the specialist change experts exit. 

At first glance, an internal consultant is just like an external consultant. They are put onto the project to solve organisational challenges and improve the performance of an organisation.

What are the benefits of using Internal Resources?
  • Internal consultants understand the organisational culture.
  • They will have existing stakeholder relationships and likely, credibility within the organisation.
  • They can understand the change project in the context of the wider organisation.
  • Have a vested interest in the project’s success.
  • Cost reduction – employees are already on the payroll and are already accounted cost.
  • They can continue to play a key role in the business after the implementation.
  • This provides employees with skill development which can also support with retention of employees.

Cons
  • These individuals are being moved from roles where they are likely to be doing good/important/successful work. This creates a new gap within the organisation and another hiring challenge.
  • These employees may not be specialist experts.
  • They are restrained by the organisation’s politics, taking into account their internal relationships. Whereas an interim/consultant will work objectively- ignoring office politics.
  • Being great at ‘the day job’ does not automatically mean they will achieve strong results in a Change and Transformation project.
  • They may not always have ‘outside’ experience.
  • There is a chance that they may not have delivered this piece of work before.
  • Interims / Consultants are dedicated to a particular project.  However, an internal consultant is likely to find themselves being pulled into other work due to their experience within the organisation.
Would you hire an Interim Manager, Management Consultant or Internal Resource for your next Change and Transformation project? 

Each of the three options explored has both pros and cons. As a business leader, you will need to think carefully about the type of change project you are embarking on, along with the budget and resources available. You may choose a blend of all three options or have a preference but whatever it is you need to consider this decision carefully. The pandemic has created massive uncertainty and rapid change that businesses need to adapt to, finding new ways to thrive if they are to have a chance of surviving.

If you would be keen to discuss how an Interim HR Professional could support your business or to talk to one of our experienced interim team about your next assignment please visit our interim page or contact me directly