Turn ambition into achievement

Venturn What's the difference between a Turnaround Interim or Consultant?

When your business is stressed, you often need a helping hand. Businesses need help for a variety of reasons.

It could be importing skills that you don’t already have, managing a gap where your own internal resources are unavailable, resourcing a specific project or acquisition, implementing business improvements, or managing rapid growth. All of these are valid and common reasons to hire in additional help. This help can then come in two main forms, either Consulting or Interim. So what are the main differences between these ?

Interim Turnaround managers perform more ‘hands-on’ roles and essentially make things happen. At this point, you usually have a clear vision of the turnaround strategy, but you’ve recognised that it’s going to take time, effort, and new skills to get the job done. This situation is ideally suited to a Turnaround Interim manager. They can be positioned internally as either Interim, but are sometimes described as permanent so that their authority isn’t diminished. Turnaround Interims can take on roles as Interim CEO, Interim MD, Interim FD, Interim CFO or Interim CRO (Chief Restructuring Officer) where they assume the usual responsibilities for these roles with full authority from the Board of Directors.

The main reason for using an Interim is to import additional skills, or manage a gap where the full time incumbent is unavailable, or simply providing additional resource as turnarounds are hard work. Interims tend to either work 3, 4 or 5 days per week for a period lasting from 1 month, to 12 months.

Turnaround consultants are very different to Interim positions. Consultants tend to be more involved with diagnosis of the issues, and focus more on strategy and advice. They work on several clients at the same time so they can only be able to a client for limited amounts of time. Work is usually scoped, quoted and priced for specific packages of work on a project-by-project basis. When more hands on roles are required, they can make themselves available to implement actions plans.

At Venturn, we sit between the two roles and adapt our tactics to suit the client’s true needs. Most clients come to us for diagnosis of their issues and straight talking advice about their position. We therefore start as ‘Consultants’ but personally speaking, I don’t like using the word as it has too many negative connotations. We then quickly move to actions and fixing problems be they cash management, talking to customers and suppliers, re-financing, fixing operational problems, logistics issues, lack of sales, poor marketing or internal morale and motivation. Anybody who knows me, understands that we get on with things pretty quickly (see our client testimonials).

For larger projects, I often then move to an Interim role either as Managing Director, or more usually Chief Restructuring Officer (CRO). These placements can run between 3 to 5 days per week, and last between 1 month and 18 months. I personally describe this as being a “Turnaround Practitioner” as it’s a unique set of skills that needs to be deployed in a variety of needs according the particular situation at hand.

Further reading

Stephen Moon, Venturn Ltd. July 2010

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