Life Cycle

 

Interim assignments vary in scope and requirements, encompassing change management, ‘gap’ assignments, project management and turnaround management. The following stages of the ‘assignment lifecycle’ are typical of how Interim Managers enter an assignment, execute implementation, and finally exit the assignment.

The early stages have much in common with ‘consultancy’ as do later stages with ‘project management.’ However the accountability and responsibility of Interims for successful analysis and delivery of an appropriate solution, is what makes these stages unique to the Interim Management approach.

ENTRY

The client and prospective Interim make initial contact and explore the ‘situation’ and its attendant requirements. This is done in order for the client to assess the Interim Manager. It is likely to involve a ‘preliminary’ assessment that includes a frank discussion of the client’s needs and the boundaries of the Interim’s contribution. Typically this takes place over one or more initial meetings resulting in the Interim’s provisional engagement.

DIAGNOSIS

The Interim then researches the current situation in order to understand it, ascertain how it came about and learn the requirements of stakeholders. At this stage a more detailed understanding of the situation is formed along with the best approach to address it. Different issues or challenges, from those initially highlighted by the client, may come to light at this stage. On a ‘gap’ assignment this diagnosis may run concurrently with the handling of immediate issues. Typically the diagnosis stage will take a few days.

PROPOSAL

The Interim then presents a more detailed proposal that acts as the Interim Assignment’s objectives. If this differs significantly from those determined at ‘Entry’, the solution may involve something altogether different and could also spell the end to an assignment. It is common for the ‘Proposal,’ which is based on the Interim Manager’s expertise, to challenge the client’s understanding of the situation. This is because it is the Interim’s responsibility to propose the solution most likely to be effective, which may not always be the one originally requested. In the case of a ‘gap assignment’ such a proposal may simply outline how the Interim will be a ‘safe pair of hands.’

IMPLEMENTATION

The Interim is responsible for managing the intervention, project, or solution, and also for tracking progress and conducting periodic feedback reviews with the client. During this stage, Interims demonstrate their expertise, accountability and effectiveness. Depending on the assignment, they get as close to the situation as is necessary, whilst still retaining their independence. They may be managing teams or projects, dealing with crises or transformations, or simply ‘managing a gap.’ Their performance is unencumbered by company politics or culture, which allows them to focus entirely on the task at hand.

EXIT

As the end of the project approaches the Interim Manager ensures that objectives have been met and that the client is satisfied. This stage may involve 'knowledge handover and training, determining and sourcing ‘business as usual’ successors, and 'sharing lessons learnt.' Since the Interim concentrates on the success of the assignment, and not the length of his own tenure, this stage can be conducted objectively without emotional trauma. The ‘exit’ is often the end of the Interim/Client relationship although Interims may continue to give occasional ad hoc consultancy. Frequently the Interim Manager will be re-engaged on a follow-up or additional assignment, and the 'lifecycle’ will begin again.

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