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Consultant vs. Interim Manager

Updated: Mar 19

When planning new projects or restructuring, it is sensible for companies to seek outside guidance. This can also be valuable in the case of an unexpected or sudden vacancy. But when choosing an interim manager, it is essential to know the differences between a classic management consultant and an interim manager, in order to choose the adequate solution.

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This decision can in fact be decisive for the actual success or even the ideal bridging of personnel shortages. In principle, it is first necessary to think carefully about what the company needs at the moment and what goals it would like to achieve in the near future. Based on this information, appropriate plans and action steps can then be planned in the further course, which make the use of a consultant or an interim manager worth considering. In this article, we will take a closer look at the differences, but also at the areas of activity of management consultants and interim managers.

What distinguishes a consultant

A management consultant serves the company externally in the majority of cases, unless it is an inbound consultant who may already be working within the company. The consultancy usually acts externally and amounts to theory rather than practical implementation of methods. As a company, you hire a consultant as a service provider who can help you with a specific topic area, a planned project or the development of a corporate strategy. The respective project is the goal of the cooperation, is mostly done through analyses and consultations and serves the purpose of providing you with external thought-provoking impulses and creative ideas that move you forward.

The scope of services of a consultant

Generally speaking, a consultant seeks solutions to the problems for which you hire him. This can be applied in various directions, but most often in reducing costs and saving important resources, but can also be the complete reorientation of the company. Among other things, a consultant can also assist you in opening up new markets. He starts with an actual analysis of your business processes. This way he can obtain insights into the structures and find weak points. The process analysis ultimately helps to select the optimization measures that make sense in the company. In this way, possible errors, but also working methods that hinder efficiency, are adjusted so that the company can reach the desired solution and goal step by step.

When should you hire a business consultant?

In principle, it makes sense to integrate the consultant into the process at the beginning of the planning phase. This provides more opportunities to restructure certain aspects of the project and makes the planning more error-free. However, it often happens that companies do not achieve their goals with certain projects and do not know what the problem is. Here, too, a consultant is often called in to observe and analyze the process from the outside.

What tasks does a consultant not perform?

The most important difference between a consultant and an interim manager is that the consultant does not become part of the company, but only provides external consulting. He himself does not put his strategies into practice, whereas an interim manager puts the tasks and the analyses into practice himself.

What is an interim manager and what does he do?

The job description of an interim manager is relatively new and describes a professional manager who has often already gained experience in his or her field for more than 20 years. Interim managers see themselves as part of the company and remain active in it for a certain period of time, depending on what has been agreed. For example, in cases of unexpected vacancies, an interim manager can quickly fill the gap, ensuring that operations continue without any savings. He is quickly on site and has the necessary practical experience to quickly familiarize himself with the company and the work processes even on the spur of the moment. In terms of the field of activity, there is a direct difference to a consultant, as the interim manager becomes active internally in the company and drives tasks and projects forward there like an actual employee. He or she is there to ensure that the company's internal processes function smoothly and also acts as a direct manager within the company. He not only advises on strategies, but also implements them and provides guidance.

When should a company hire an interim manager?

It makes sense for companies to hire an interim manager in various situations. The following scenarios apply most frequently:

1. Unexpected vacancy

If an executive unexpectedly drops out, an interim manager can temporarily and quickly take over the required activities. This way, the company is not in a hurry to hire a new suitable executive and can be accordingly careful in the selection process.

2. Coping with times of crisis

If a company is currently experiencing difficulties that it cannot get out of itself, an interim manager can help to find out the reasons for this and to remedy them. The processes within the company are analyzed and changed together so that they can be made more efficient again. This way, the company comes out of the crisis more easily and can work more successfully with new strategies from then on.

3. Unbiased assessment Since an interim manager comes into the company from the outside, but actively helps to shape it, projects outside the company can be assessed. Due to the existing expertise and the necessary distance, new markets can be opened up more easily or new products can be developed. Also in project planning, an interim manager can actively help to exclude faulty projects from the beginning.

What distinguishes a good interim manager?

A good interim manager has already completed several high-quality and successful projects. Accordingly, he or she brings the necessary experience as a manager and quickly integrates himself or herself into the company. This also includes building trust with employees and credibly communicating one's own competencies, even in front of customers. In addition to soft skills and a pleasant management style, it is valuable for the company and also for the interim manager if he has already been professionally active and thus also brings with him the positioning in the relevant industry. After all, it is his task to achieve the project goal and to advance the company for the time he is there and beyond. This includes the ability to work in a project- and goal-focused manner, which not only has its own structuring effect, but is also to be implemented in the best possible way for the employees.

Interim manager placement - professional experts for your company

If you are currently faced with a shortage of management personnel, an interim manager can quickly provide a remedy. He or she will work energetically and personally on site to achieve the company's goals and will also bring his or her previous experience to the company. This means that the company does not have to accept any savings and can continue to work on its current projects in a targeted manner. You can agree in advance how long the interim manager should stay with you. However, finding the right interim manager is not always easy. It is seldom known whether the candidate actually has the desired core competencies. We are happy to support you in your search for suitable candidates and provide you with interim managers from our network.

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