Guidance

Providing Executive Level Capacity in Key Functional Areas on a Less Than Full-Time Basis

The Solution

At a certain stage of growth most companies feel the need for the support of management specialists on their executive teams. At the same time, they are reluctant to bring on more senior executives because of the additional overhead that would need to be supported. Finance, human resources, information management are some of the more common executive roles involved when enterprises find themselves in that classic, “too big to be small, but too small to be big” situation. These circumstances were made for interim management and vice-versa. Businesses can access top quality expertise that they cannot yet afford on a full-time basis by engaging the interim executive they need now and moving on to a permanent hire only when the scale of the business requires a full-time person. This allows growing enterprises to build the business systems they need as they scale up and prepares them to use a permanent executive to full advantage when the time comes to make that move.

Examples

  1. Your accounts payable, accounts receivable and payroll people function well from a bookkeeping perspective, but as the business grows, you find yourself needing support on the financial aspects of decision making. Also, you could really use a shorter accounting cycle, providing complete, accurate information on a timelier schedule. A consistent customer credit policy, an improved budget forecasting format, financial input on capital expenditure decisions and more adroit management of the organization’s line of credit would not hurt either. These skills are beyond the capability of your bookkeeping staff. In short, you need a CFO. But, in your organization, taking on another six figure salary is not a small concern. An interim executive, with the business experience and an appropriate accounting designation, can help here in two ways. He/she can establish the financial reporting system to support ongoing management as an initial assignment. And thereafter, as Interim CFO, be available for a few days a month to ensure that the system is maintained and suggest ongoing improvements to further adapt the system to the company’s needs. Thoroughly familiar with the organization’s finances, the interim can also be consulted on an as-required basis at a known rate for input on executive decisions and corporate financial advice.
  1. Like many mid-sized businesses your organization has management, administrative and production employees but does not have a human resources professional as part of the management team. Often the value of competent HR presence on the senior management team is not appreciated until problems occur. Human resources management is an incredibly complex field as it involves staff recruitment, retention and succession planning, lay off and recall administration, labour relations, dispute resolution, employee discipline, policy creation, updating and enforcement, regulatory compliance, benefits administration, training and professional development. What could go wrong? Maintaining a comprehensive HR management function is a challenge, but at the same time, companies with fewer than, say, 50 employees have difficulty justifying a full-time executive position in HR. A junior or mid-level HR manager will not have the breadth or depth of experience to handle everything that could be thrown his/her way. Outsourcing is expensive and has its limits, especially when the need for consistency is recognized. However, more experienced, better qualified HR managers are available as interim contractors. These executive level practitioners can be used on a less than full-time basis to establish procedures that your administrative staff can follow, deal with problem situations as they arise, develop and update corporate policy and, importantly, be at the table whenever the senior management team needs input from an HR perspective on major decisions. Consistent attention to the overall HR management function at a senior level can pay off for your organization by recognizing and fixing problems before they become expensive disasters and by avoiding liability.
  1. In smaller organizations (and some larger ones) the IT department is usually dominated by a small handful of technicians who are only concerned with keeping things working. Over time this leads to a patchwork of incompatible systems and inefficient workarounds. The focus is all on the technology, not on the information. However, it is information that fuels all of your business processes. If, in the daily course of business, your managers do not have the information they need, when they need it, discrepancies will occur, mistakes will be made, and opportunities will be missed. An experienced information technology executive working on a less than full-time basis can provide the oversight, functionality and innovation that your IT department needs. Someone who thinks like a CIO can put the needs of your business processes first and find ways to make the flow of information more accurate, more complete and more timely. The Interim CIO will look for opportunities to integrate systems and automate processes. He/she can make the business case for innovation and improvement in your IT function. If your management team feels that it makes decisions affecting IT more or less in the dark, a fractional CIO can bring the professional insight needed to the boardroom table.

Need More Answers?

If you have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Mark Olson
Managing Partner
Email Mark

Gord Forbes
Managing Principal
Email Gord