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Getting the Most out of External Support: Keys to Successful Interim and Consulting Projects

Poor experiences in interim management and consulting are often attributed to unclear expectations or inappropriate project assignments. To avoid such situations and to derive the greatest benefit from external support, several aspects should be considered.

Define specific tasks: A crucial aspect is developing a clear understanding of what needs to be achieved. The interim manager can often be helpful in this regard. However, it is important to work closely with management to define the objectives, particularly if they are not yet clearly defined. This collaborative approach ensures that everyone is working towards the same goal.

Clarify expectations

It is important to realistically compare the roles of permanent employees and interim managers. For positions with development potential, a permanent position combined with training may be appropriate. However, employees in specialized roles created to handle specific tasks often become dissatisfied quickly because they have no long-term prospects. BI managers, digital process managers, digital program managers, and transformation managers are examples of such roles that are in demand, especially in organizations experiencing constant change. However, when the need is for a specific development or project, it often makes sense to seek temporary support from interim managers or consultants. The advantages are clear: this support is quickly available, often efficient from the outset, and eliminates many ancillary tasks in day-to-day operations, making work more targeted. In addition, an outside perspective is often more rational, as the interim manager is not involved in internal hierarchies or structures and can offer an objective view of the situation.

Create clear conditions

Define success criteria and potential risks to optimize collaboration. Determine the value of the task and work with the consultant to identify the expected ROI.

Assess your own resources: Different internal resources are required depending on the project setup. Ensure that these resources are available and well-aligned with the interim manager or consultant.

Provide data, accounts, and software

It may sound trivial, but a critical aspect is the timely provision of data, accounts, and software. Valuable time is often lost in this process that could be used more effectively for the project. Also, inquire whether the consultants can use their own software, as this often speeds up the work process. Addressing these issues early on contributes significantly to a smooth collaboration.

Plan for follow-up

It often makes sense to discuss possible follow-up phases before the project is completed. A successful mandate can lead to a long-term, trusted relationship within a limited scope. For example, it may be necessary to make minor adjustments to the originally implemented system. In such cases, it is often advisable to hire the person who originally built the system. The interim manager is often at an advantage with personal contacts compared to large consulting firms, where staff turnover often leads to knowledge loss.

Documentation and knowledge transfer

In addition, high-quality documentation contributes to clarity. It should be comprehensive but easy to understand and kept up-to-date. In reality, this is often not the case, which is why it is recommended to combine documentation with the transfer and training of internal resources. Self-help and training sessions provide a broad knowledge transfer and prevent knowledge hoarding and silo thinking.

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