Should I hire an interim manager or a consultancy firm?

It’s an understatement to say that the Coronavirus has been a disrupting factor to businesses in the UK. An independent economic forecaster of the Treasury has estimated that over £100bn has already been paid by the government to support British businesses whilst the economy has shrunk by 14%. With the gradual lifting of the lockdown measures and the return to work for many, organisations are beginning to think about how to roll out projects to ensure growth over the coming months and ensure success over the coming quarters. This leads many to question, would a team of consultants from a third-party organisation or an interim manager be a better way to manage this process? 

The benefits of hiring interim managers

An interim manager is usually a very experienced senior-level professional brought on to oversee a project on a contractual basis. They typically have excellent industry and technical knowledge, plus a deep knowledge of the resourcing, technical and organisational requirements of a project from having in-depth experience in similar roles and scenarios. Finding an exceptional interim manager begins with the project definition and interim service providers can help direct the process from there to find the right fit for an organisation’s needs.  

Interims are a sound business solution because:

  • They offer cost-effective solutions as their rates are adjustable with the length of the project or contract 
  • They are able to not only set strategy but also implement and deliver solutions 
  • Their experience means that they can deliver quantifiable data or results quickly with minimal onboarding or supervision 
  • They can have a training or knowledge-transfer function for team members so that there are the necessary skills in-house to manage the outcomes of a project after the interim’s contract has finished 
  • They provide greater control over desired skill sets allowing an organisation to pick the best candidate based on their own criteria 

Some drawbacks to using interims include: 

  • A lack of retained knowledge in-house; when interims leave, they take their expertise with them  
  • Managing them and their output can require greater planning and organisation on the part of the employer; they often need time-sensitive data and potentially regular access to a senior stakeholder throughout the project 

The benefits of hiring professional services consultancies

In 2019, the global consulting market was worth $250 billion,2 and hiring third party consultancies to improve business functions was a very popular choice in the UK. There are many firms that specialise in professional services consultancy including the Big Four companies alongside smaller, boutique consultancies. Regardless of the size,  consultancies specialise in increasing an organisation’s performance by analysing existing processes and historical data to suggest plans for improvement.  

Using consultancies is a popular business decision because they: 

  • Have access to wider resources and can benchmark data across an industry 
  • Offer industry best practice and insight into a variety of business environments and scenarios 
  • Provide full project teams to enable full consultancy delivery  
  • Utilise proprietary methodologies and insights honed across multiple engagements and years of experience 

Cons of hiring consultancies:

  • They can be very expensive, particularly for large, complex  or extended projects 
  • Costs are calculated by engagement, when there may be more junior-level consultants on delivery. This can result in an inflated hourly wage when broken down.  
  • Although their consultants might be bright, they usually don’t have direct experience with similar projects and tend to ‘learn on the job’ 
  • As they are only there on a consultancy basis, they can be inflexible about the solutions they suggest 
  • Consultancies may be limited by the talent that is currently sitting on their bench, prompting the need to engage the flexible solutions and availability that a blended solution affords 

The choice to hire consultancies or interim managers is sure to see many businesses through the uncertain period following the Coronavirus lockdown. But choosing one or the other isn’t the only course of action. 

Oakwood Resources offers businesses the opportunity to leverage the immediate value and impact of interim managers as part of a wider, forward-planning engagement to enable consultancy team augmentation and enhancement for key initiatives. The Oakwood Resources Blended Model® enables businesses to access the strategic capability of a consulting firm but with the hands-on delivery of an interim, providing businesses a cost-effective alternative to a traditional consultancy engagement. 


Oakwood Resources can help to accelerate your consultancy delivery by sourcing interim managers that are assessed based on their experience in the market who can work alongside your consultancy agency to deliver bespoke solutions.  


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