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Assessing the value of interim management

The cynic, said Oscar Wilde, is a person who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

When it comes to interim management, there are many cynics.

In fairness, this isn’t anyone’s fault. My industry has wrestled for years to place a financial value on what it does. The price is clear - and often high - but what is the true value that an interim manager brings to an organisation? 

Some attempts to attribute value to the work an interim does have been vague to the point of vacuity. 

“Interims bring experience, new skills and shared knowledge.”

Wow! Is that what I get for £1500 per day? 

“If interims weren’t necessary and valuable, there wouldn’t be any demand for them.”

Like payday loan companies?

A slightly more advanced theory goes something like……

“If you didn’t get an interim manager to deliver a project you would need to use a consulting firm, which would inevitably charge a lot more.”

However, I would suggest that this is merely a restating of the cynic’s position, and surely the interim management community can come up with a more cogent raison d'etre than merely to assert that they are cheaper than the Big ? 

The truth is that all of us who are passionate about interim management, and the huge benefits it brings to individual and wider business, need to be more informed and assertive in our views. To demonstrate value we need to be able to demonstrate the return on interim, ideally in cold hard cash. While some assignments might be difficult to place a financial value on (HR leadership roles spring to mind), in the majority of cases it is possible and beneficial to do so. An interim procurement professional with a price tag of £1000 per day might appear expensive, but if they find £500,000 of savings during a 6 month assignment they look like value!

So, a cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. The interim management community aren’t cynics. We know the value interim managers bring, even if their price isn’t nothing.

Steve Rutherford is the Managing Partner at Interim Partners.

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