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Project Management & Delivering Change

Markets are changing faster than ever before and the constant word is disruption – things are continually changing as business and markets evolve. Organisations need the skills to be flexible and to adapt and respond. One of the leading sources of demand for Interim Managers is programme and project management in delivering that change. In addition, by using Interim Managers rather than management consultants or inexperienced internal resources, clients have a greater control over outcomes, cost, retaining IP and reduction of risk.

With consultants, a business generally hosts a small group of “experts” (under the supervision of an external partner) to work on a specific issue or project. Often a project plan is handed over but not necessarily an implementation plan. Interim Managers on the other hand are experienced executives with a background in strategizing outcomes and implementing plans to deliver on those required outcomes. They have the skills to deal with ambiguity, in fact thrive on it, are integrated into the team as a temporary management role and have authority and budget responsibility. Our Interim Managers mix their operational responsibilities with a consultative mindset. They keep the big picture in mind yet can focus on improvement opportunities.

Invariably we are dealing with projects that are activities that sit outside “business as usual” yet have a clearly defined scope, budget and timelines. It is also often a case when there are multiple projects that meet a specific business objective yet encompass elements of “business as usual” . An example may be a major business transformation of which a payroll project may form part.

Organisations can often underestimate the scale and complexity of a major project and the risks of failure. A skilled external resource with the commensurate background and experience can avoid what otherwise could turn out to be very costly, not only in financial terms but also to reputation. It is important to recognise that managing large projects such as transformations or implementing new initiatives is a full time job. Overlaying the project management duties on top of management’s existing duties can end in tears.

Most organisations do not have the requirement for frequent major changes and hence lack the necessary skills to deliver the required outcome, or, having rationalised their staff, simply do not have the necessary management bandwidth. Interim Managers give organisations the opportunity to:

• Maintain greater control

• Retain intellectual property

• Reduce cost

• Manage risk

Conari Interim Solutions have a broad range of executives available to help you achieve the outcomes you require on a cost effective basis.

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Reflections from 2015 AFIF Conference

Whilst having spent a number of decades involved in the transport, logistics and international forwarding arena, it has been quite some time since I attended a conference in the sector, particularly an international forwarding event such as the AFIF conference.

It was interesting to reflect that some of the issues remain constant and the ongoing need for efficiency due to the continual pressure on margins still exists as a main issue. Therefore perhaps not surprisingly, presentations and discussions on technology at the conference were a large part of the agenda and the way forward to try and deliver the ongoing efficiency drive.

Some attendees pondered that with the ongoing march of IT, the entry level jobs that helped us learn the guts of the business are now gone, so how do people learn the business as they enter the industry. It is true that many of these jobs have been replaced by technology however it is fair to say that other jobs have been created through the advent and integration of technology into the day to day processes.

On a continuation of this theme, others such as Innovation Strategist, Heather McGowan tell us that “jobs are over” and the future is income generation. The diagram below essentially indicates that in prior decades we went to school, possibly took on some tertiary education and that education was applied in a career that encompassed one company or functional track until retirement age at 65. After that a pension kicked in to cover a life expectancy of no more than 75 years.

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Fast forward today, the lines of education career and retirement are blurred and have morphed into overlapping fields of learn, leverage and longevity.

With technology and globalisation as such powerful disruptors , thought leader Thomas Friedman tells us that jobs have moved up (requiring more education and technical knowledge), down (outsourced/offshored) and across (broken into job fragments) or short term engagements.

As a result many people will not have annual salaries or set jobs but will generate income from leveraging and monetising a combination of their physical assets and talents in an income-generation portfolio.

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The above aligns to interim management where skilled executives will engage in short and medium term engagements to maximise their earning capacity.

Conari Interim Solutions exists to assist clients meet their variable resourcing needs in this changing environment and provides skilled executives with a “home” for their background, experience and expertise. Interim managers are not consultants, their role is to implement as well as advise and deliver on outcomes. Most importantly, they share their knowledge with the team before they leave their assignment. Contact us at www.conariinterim.com to see how we can assist your organisation.

Contingent workers – Interim management

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We all constantly hear about digital disruption, globalisation and where technology is taking us. The impact in the workplace is dramatic and absolute. The changes are structural, not cyclical. 60% of 567 members of the Economist Intelligence Unit reported that by 2020, industry will bear little resemblance to today as a result of technological change and globalisation. Organisations that do not need people full-time, will not hire them full-time, they will hire them on an interim basis. In reality the pressures of technology and globalisation force companies to bring a greater efficiency to their operations in a continuing requirement to reduce costs and remain competitive on a global stage. The McKinsey Institute describes this as “technology makes it possible for companies to manage their labour as a variable input”.

This concept aligns with interim management as delivering on the concept of variable costs is exactly what interim managers do. They are brought in to use their deep experience and well-honed skills to deal with specific issues/problems/crisis or to implement new initiatives. They are not looking for a job, they want to implement and deliver outcomes, not engage in office politics. More importantly, they leave when the project is delivered with a reputation that helps them get the next assignment, not job. This is the true opportunity to deliver the variable costing model.

Whilst a fairly immature industry in Australia, the interim management industry in Europe and the UK has been around since the 1970’s & 80’s derived from the oil crisis where companies needed very experienced executives quickly to use their skills to turn the organisations around in a volatile environment. Growth continued in Canada and North America where more recently the GFC has fueled the need for interim managers. In Australia we are seeing the industry slowly grow due to business economics and our demographics. The Australian economy is somewhat stagnant with difficult growth forecasts and a lack of confidence in the economy. This has an impact on the hiring of full time staff, in contrast many companies have been and are retrenching staff.  This in turn means there is a growing supply of very skilled and experienced executives who in many instances are in their more “mature” years and are looking for the flexibility of interim work. Many have decided that a full time role is not what they are looking for and are at a stage in their life that they can handle the variability of interim management.

This change in mandate for mature executives is also driven by the dramatic change in life expectancy. In prior decades we went to school, perhaps went on to a tertiary education, got a job and perhaps stayed with that organisation for our entire working life. Beyond that, a pension was generally sufficient to cover life expectancy. Today our life expectancy is beyond 90 years and as a result our pensions will not secure us based on a retirement age of 65. Indeed today there is really no retirement age, “jobs” as we know them are gone and individuals must now create a portfolio of income generation from serial employment engagements – all which gives rise to the interim manager.