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Perpetual: The rise of the Interim Consultant

We are currently facing a rapidly changing work environment with unprecedented global challenges. This places massive strain around an organization’s key asset – it’s people and requires business leaders who are agile, able to react, pivot, seize opportunities in this new world and get s*%^ done – and fast!!

Enter the highly skilled, adaptable, flexible Interim Consultant.

Why use an Interim Consultant?

New business realities call for new solutions, fresh eyes on problems and extra bandwidth. Interim Consultants can affect change in all aspects of an organization’s operations from helping to pivot sales to Ecommerce / Direct to Consumer, shoring up creaking supply chains; developing a new product or service, devising a better business process, or creating an advanced technology to support new offerings or completing that one project that’s been on your to-do list for way too long (you know that one!!).

Several weeks into lockdown we have already seen a number of our clients increase their use of Interim Consultants. Some of those reasons would include:

  • Engaging, motivating and enhancing the productivity of a remote-based workforce
  • Managing complete organizational restructures, furlough & outplacement
  • Investigate and seize new business opportunities
  • Deliver business-critical projects and drive change
  • Provide additional Crisis Management bandwidth and a new perspective
  • Fill unexpected gaps in the company due to sickness or stalled Executive Searches

Advantages and disadvantages of using an Interim Consultant

Some of the advantages of hiring an Interim Consultant at this time would include:

  • Laser focus – Their sole responsibility is your project and they leave when the project is completed to your satisfaction
  • Flexible – A rapidly deployable and flexible highly specialist resource that can increase the speed of getting s*%^ done.
  • Unencumbered – Not concerned about internal politics and challenge your thinking and assumptions with outside ideas
  • Accountable – Fully accountable for the project timeline, budget, and planned outcomes.
  • Lower cost – Leverage the increased availability of expertise at reduced costs

One of the challenges with effective interim consulting is that it depends on in-depth situational knowledge that sometimes Interim Consultants simply can’t have when they start an assignment. What’s more, they may not yet be completely clear on what the client really wants.

We see many organizations hesitant in regards Interim Consultants:

  • It’s difficult to find experts who match their culture
  • Interims don’t know our business well enough to contribute
  • Interims are often too abstract in their approach
  • Interims can lack a commitment to their organization

Winning strategies for managing Interim Consultants

So, how can you manage interim professionals within your organization:

Clarify strategic direction. Take a hard look at the expertise requirements and clearly define what you need regarding Interim Consultants. In addition, understand what they want – What are you giving that person in exchange for him or her providing their talent to your organization? Ask what they are hoping for from the assignment or project. Then make sure you’re delivering on that.

Assess the current state of alignment. Identify needs, prioritize, and implement the plan. Having identified areas of strength and misalignment, leaders need to establish the game plan for improvement: what, who, how and by when. Communication is a critical part of the plan: internal employees need to understand the role and importance of agile talent, and the quality of collaboration between internals and externals that the organization needs. Poor communication and inadequate leadership modeling will lead to obvious problems down the road. Set expectations – Be clear about what you want and draft a statement of work that details exactly what you need and when. Spend extra time talking about what the goal is, how it connects to the bigger picture, and why it matters.

Build a reputation through communication. Make Interim Consultants feel part of the team – Treat them like part of the team. Don’t micromanage – They are self-motivated and able to work without someone looking over their shoulder. Give feedback – Telling them what you think of their work will improve their performance and deepen the relationship. Regularly revisit the statement of work or contract and be clear about whether they’re hitting their targets

Alignment is the driver. When Interim Consultants choose from among the opportunities available to them, they want to make a difference (strategic alignment), make a significant and measurable contribution for which they are recognized and appreciated (performance alignment), be treated as a valued colleague (relationship alignment), and work with an organization that is easy to work with (administrative alignment). Not surprisingly, Interim Consultants want to be treated as important talent — a contributor rather than a “necessary evil.” Isn’t that what we’re all looking for?

Interim Consultants also get frustrated as well with organizations that can be:

  • Lack of access to senior leaders
  • Sponsorship is insufficient, buy-in is weak and inconsistent
  • Too slow in making decisions & reluctant to implement change

How Perpetual can help

Perpetual’s bench of Interim Consultants are both Consumer Products industry & Functional experts, which makes them ideal for urgent, complex and strategic projects. We have available rapidly deployable professionals for the following roles:

  • C Suite
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Supply Chain & Operations
  • Finance & Accounting
  • Human Resources
  • Legal

Case Study

Below is an example of the impact and value that our Interim Consultants can bring to your business.

Situation

Major French spirits manufacturer was looking to understand the impact of digital advertising and promotion spend but lacked the strategy, data and know how to navigate measuring effectiveness; all digital spending showed that customers have non-linear pathways to purchase in the spirits industry. A group of brands within the manufacturer decided to invest in honing their digital spending strategy and reached out to Perpetual to understand what talent was available to help.

Task

Drive digital/e-commerce DTC growth strategy for a portfolio of the client’s brands.

Action

The Perpetual team looked to a proven resource, a consultant who had worked on another engagement for our clients and made a considerable impact on revenue. The Perpetual team brokered a conversation around potential project scope, helping to define terms and next vetting steps. Working from a laundry list of deliverables but limited budget and resource access, the conversation drove to an efficient SOW covering the clients’ most pressing digital needs and created a clear digital strategy plan to build on.

Result

As working in tandem with our client’s brand leaders and being empowered to lean into building strategy, our consultant in 9 months: 

  • Established e-commerce partnerships resulting in 152% YOY increase in revenue for one brand and over 60% YOY increase for others.
  • Designed advanced, cross-channel attribution modeling and A&P ROI analytics platform, enabling real-time measurement and optimization
  • Increased conversion rates on e-commerce transactions by over 75%
  • Led CRM strategy for two brands resulting in over 365% growth of opt-in subscriber base
  • Evaluated, establish and managed strategic digital partnerships, both internal and external, resulting in more than $250kin annual cost reduction.

If you’d like to become one of our trusted consultants or see how someone from our Interim Consultant team can help your firm, please contact us.