Interim Management in the SME Sector

There are numerous reasons why companies decide to hire an interim manager:
bridging management vacancies, corporate restructuring, establishment of new business lines, internationalization of the business, transformations or even traditional project management.

Interim Management is becoming ever more popular and is being used with increasing frequency, not just in Switzerland.

In the past, Interim Management was often associated with recovery. Thus, for many this term still conjures the picture of the merciless, cost-cutting job killer. There are certainly situations where this is still the case today, but Interim Management is presently used much more extensively to buy missing know-how for a predefined period of time.

Especially in small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) it is often the case that certain know-how is missing, but at the same time there is not enough work to justify the creation of a corresponding position. Here are three examples to illustrate this:

  • The global digitalization calls for the commitment of a CIO (Chief Information Officer) or CDO (Chief Digital Officer), who together with the company management develops a digital strategy and subsequently is responsible for the successful implementation. But many SMEs help themselves today with the appointment of the most senior executive to look after this topic, since he or she has already experienced a lot and knows both the sector as well as the customer by heart. That the topic of digitalization requires new know-how and business myopia is extremely detrimental, is, unfortunately, too often disregarded.
  • The functions of the finance department of a SME are comprised by 80% of accounting activities. For this reason, the job profile of the head of finance is also primarily tailored towards this task. But this has little to do with the role of a CFO (Chief Financial Officer), who is responsible for controlling the financial risk of the entire company and at the same time for conducting the comprehensive financial planning. He or she should thereby be able to act on an equal footing with the managing director. Especially when the company is looking to operate internationally, it is essential that the services of a CFO are enlisted, since it is otherwise exposed to enormous financial risks.
  • Companies again and again neglect their sales strategy. And as long as the market is doing well and the products practically sell themselves, nobody will even notice. But if the environment changes and the market becomes tougher, the weaknesses will become clearly visible. In this situation, the best salesman will be appointed to the position of sales manager, in the hope that the sales performance of all other salespeople will reach the peak performer’s level. But this is almost never a successful endeavor. A better approach would be to enlist the services of a CSO (Chief Sales Officer) that could deal with the sales strategy of the company without having to sell himself at the same time.

The problem of a SME is now as follows. On the one hand, being successful in the positions mentioned above requires a lot of experience and know-how. This is not a knowledge that can be acquired quickly in a subsidiary function. On the other hand, a SME cannot fill such a position to 100% on a permanent basis. That is the reason why such a position is uninteresting as permanent employment for most good candidates.

At this point, Interim Management comes into play. Interim Management can mean that a respective position is filled needs-based for a certain period of time, including, for example, on a part-time basis. The benefits are quite obvious:

  • Experience and know-how as leader and specialist are immediately available
  • Because the interim manager also works for other companies, he or she sees more options for solutions than an internal employee
  • The interim manager does not suffer from business myopia and is able to question existing processes and behavioral pattern
  • The company pays only for the performance and the actual time that the interim manager is hired for
  • The company should be able to benefit from the, in most cases, good network of interim managers
  • If not needed anymore or in cases of dissatisfaction, the interim manager can be quickly removed

Interim Management for SMEs is especially a good opportunity to gain knowledge that otherwise only large corporations are able to afford. In a world where specialized know-how and proven leadership skills are becoming more and more important, Interim Management is a way for companies to react swiftly and purposefully to practically all possible situations, without having to build large blocks of fixed costs for this purpose.

Panoff Consulting can offer Interim Management services for the following functions:

  • CEO (Chief Executiv Officer)
  • CFO (Chief Financial Officer)
  • CSO (Chief Sales Officer)
  • CIO (Chief Information Officer)
  • CDO (Chief Digital Officer)
  • CRO (Chief Risk Officer)
  • COO (Chief Operating Officer)
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