Interim management explained

Why this service may prove a timely alternative to permanent resourcing solutions in the licensing industry...
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Reflecting on last month's political maelstrom that delivered Britain's first coalition government since the Second World War, I can't help but wonder how history will record this momentous change in our politics and what the short-term repercussions will be.

As we wait to see what 'fiscal pain' unfolds in the coming weeks and months, it's worth reflecting that the pace and scale of any change can sometimes be surprising, sometimes breathtaking in retrospect.

At the start of the new decade, organisations within the brand and entertainment merchandise licensing sector are not immune in having to adapt to this rapidly changing external environment. As organisations 'course correct' many undergo their own change - the likes of which may not have been experienced before:

Restructuring appears more commonplace and subsequent reorganisation may result in temporary gaps in the new organisations structure as permanent executives are identified and recruited;

Temporary absence of permanent executives due to headcount restrictions and/or forced leave of absence due to personal circumstances such as maternity, paternity and illness may create further disruption within the organisation, which in turn may hinder the delivery of specific business objectives;

Merger and acquisition activity is heightened as organisations strive to gain scale advantage over their nearest competitor, with 2010 alluded to only recently by another industry publication as the 'year of M&As'.

With change also comes opportunity. Brand owners and their intermediaries recognise this period of change as an opportunity to further exploit their equity through new business development initiatives. They have identified licensing and franchising as business models to create growth via new revenue streams, by extending brands into non traditional areas whilst creating new relationships with their consumers.

However, timing and budgeting constraints may mean that organisations are initially unwilling to employ the necessary permanent expertise, but may be more willing to hire interim resources on a project by project basis. Sound familiar?

Interim managers are highly specialised senior executives hired to take on specific projects or lead businesses, usually for six months to two years. Today, the UK is the most developed market in the world for interims, who find themselves in even greater demand with the upturn in the economy.

Interim management enables an organisation to:

Employ the services of a senior executive who will manage a department or project whilst fulfilling line management responsibilities;

Contract in expertise for a limited period of time but at significant cost and time saving to permanent resourcing solutions;

Provide for a specific area of expertise at senior executive/near board level;

Provoke fresh thinking and make things happen.

The principal benefit to organisations employing interim managers is that they represent a variable cost and not a fixed overhead to the business with no hidden costs - typically just the agreed daily fee plus expenses.

Interims are self employed, senior executives working through Limited, VAT registered companies and are responsible for their own Pay As You Earn and National Health Insurance contributions. They will also possess their own Professional Indemnity insurance cover and, with no permanent commitment/employment issues after the initial period of engagement, represent a more flexible and cost effective alternative to permanent employment.

As interims are hired to do the job, not learn it, they typically hit the ground running and can be on-site and integrated into the business in a matter of days. Interims aren't hindered by inter-personal or historical organisational issues, with advice provided to the client in a completely objective and impartial manner. Being completely autonomous and independent of the client often leads to more effective decision making and quicker execution.

And making things happen provides the fundamental difference between an interim manager and the services provided by a consultant who would typically offer a solution to a business problem, but leave the execution to the organisation.

Temporary bosses have certainly gained in popularity during the recession. The search for interim managers has doubled since the end of last year, with senior executives in greatest demand according to the Interim Management Association. Whether 'course correcting' for consolidation or growth, interim management provides a timely, cost effective and results oriented alternative to permanent resourcing solutions, and should be given more serious consideration by organisations in our industry who are currently weighing up their own resourcing options.

David Berry is founder and director at Interim Licensing Management Limited which opened its doors last month, in response to the need for executive interim management solutions tailored exclusively for, and delivered directly to, the merchandise licensing industry and its associated businesses and sectors.


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