Interim Management Resourcing

Know the difference between a management consultant and an interim manager (SMW)

A white paper of Senior Management Worldwide.

Do you know the difference?  

Companies operating in a fast-paced environment, need a high degree of flexibility and adaptability to keep up with the sudden and frequent changes.  

However, many companies working in these  types of environments tend to lack these two  parameters and therefore situations such  as the restructuring of an organization,  launching of new projects, relocations of  factories, a gap in the management, or a  company experiencing such fast growth that  they cannot keep up to speed, can cause  alarming problems and overwhelm the  resources at hand.  

Companies tend to look for external services  that provide expert knowledge in order to  deal with the challenges that arise out of such  situations like the ones listed above. This is  where a consultant or an interim manager  comes into play.  

Choosing whether to take an Interim  Management approach or hiring a  

management consultant can be diffcult. This  is because of the fact that the two concepts  resemble one another. However, when we  look deeper into the two approaches, we see  that there are real differences between the  two.  

Similarities between a management  consultant and interim manager

As previously stated, an interim manager is  similar to a management consultant. One  could say that an interim manager is a  management consultant, but a management  consultant is not an interim manager. The  similarities that the management consultant  and the interim manager have are:  

• They share the ability to fast track a critical project  

• Strategic and analytical  

• An independent and objective view on  the challenge  

• Temporary addition of top management  resources  

Although there are some similarities between  the management consultant and the interim  manager, we see that more senior  directors choose to go for the Interim  Management solution rather than going for a  management consultant. This is because there  are some clear advantages to hiring an  interim manager instead of a consultant. 

Going for an Interim Management solution  

entails that a company receives added  management expertise for a limited time  period, which means that the commitment on  the company’s side is low, but the value added  into the business is very high. Moreover, the  cost of having an interim manager is more  cost effective than having a permanent  employee for instance. The cost of having the  interim is solely based on the time he/she  works on the assignment. Once the interim  period terminates, the cost goes away.  

What differentiates the interim  manager from the management  consultant?  

Similarly, to the consultant, the interim  manager lays the groundwork, meaning the  analytical and strategic part of the job. The  consultant, however, is rarely involved in the  implementation process, whereas the interim  manager not only implements but also  executes the strategy ensuring that the  business reaches the desired goal. The interim  manager views the company’s success as their  own success. 

The interim manager will be selected and  thoroughly assessed by the interim  management firm and presented to the  company, where he/she will be hired as an  independent person on the basis of  professional and personal skills as well as  reputation. The consultant is on the other  hand usually hired based on the firm’s  reputation rather than a personal fit for the  company and the specific assignment.    

An interim will therefore solely lay all his/her  focus on the company and attempt to cut  costs and improve efficiency wherever  possible, as this will improve the interim  manager’s reputation. The consultant on the  other hand works for the consulting firm and  may therefore try to sell additional services  and the focus may lie on generating as much  as revenue from that specific assignment.    

The interim manager and the consultant also  have different ways in which they apply their  skills when working on a new assignment. The  interim manager will base their competencies  and skills on their long standing operating  experience, leadership and industry  experience. Whereas the consultant, base  their skills most commonly on methods,  processes and analysis that is laid out by the  consulting firm.

What can you expect from your  interim manager?  

If you decide to take the Interim Management   solution, then these are the things that you  can expect to get out of your interim manager:  

• You can expect to get an overqualified  senior manager for the assignment, who  has a lot of experience.  

• The interim manager often brings key  skills that the organization does not tend  to have.  

• An interim manager will be result driven  and 100% focused on the task.  

• An interim manager has chosen to go the  Interim Management career, because  they thrive in this flexible and project based work life.  

• They enjoy the freedom of not being tied  down.  

• The interim manager is not involved in  any politics of the business.  

• He or she is solely only there to create  results that benefit the company.  

International cooperation  

This white paper is a contribution of SMW’s  partner Nextt Management A/S (Christian  Hvashøj Schaarup ) from Denmark.  

Senior Management Worldwide (SMW)  regularly publishes best practice examples  from its partners. SMW is an international  group of like-minded specialists of interim  management providers. They operate in  partnership under common principles and  standards of excellence. Each partner helps  organizations solve critical management issues  and influence business outcomes. SMW offers  the strongest and deepest network of leading  interim executives available anywhere in the  world. They combine global reach with local  knowledge. With their combined reach and  experience, the 21 partner countries offer a  wide pool of interim and independent  executive professionals across the world.  

Wondering how we can help your company?  Contact the SMW partners in your region: