Over the last few months, we have seen a noticeable increase in the number of interim project and programme managers (PM) being requested by clients - a positive sign in a challenging market. The reasons behind this increase in demand are also interesting.
The Current Market
More businesses are now pushing forward with initiatives and starting to move again on crucial projects, as market confidence slowly returns to certain sectors. For example, we are seeing a real upturn in demand across areas such as health, manufacturing, FMCG, financial services and construction. These companies require experts to help them navigate through business challenges in areas such as corporate restructuring, process re-engineering and mergers or acquisitions. So the need for experienced interim project and programme managers is clear, but what are the skills required to be a successful one?
Being able to understand the motivations and opinions of all stakeholders involved in a project or programme is crucial. Many permanent employees can lack the experience needed to push a programme forward and feel somewhat ambiguous towards an interim. Effective stakeholder engagement means that an interim is able to work effectively within a team to gain buy in, remove blockers and deliver results.
Many interim project and programme managers are brought in to initiate and deliver a change or transformation agenda, which can be a major challenge in any business. Experienced interims know that to embed change successfully in a company not only means putting the correct processes in place, but also championing that change through demonstrating world class leadership and showing how working with best practices achieves success. This in turn gains the buy in of the different stakeholder groups and ensures that any change is sustained by a business, even after an interim’s departure.
Knowledge and Experience
Interim project and programme managers are brought in because of their vast experience and their ability to be objective and flexible. Many will have held CAPEX budgetary responsibility in the past and will also be able to veer and haul a project as appropriate, responding to issues as they have ‘been there before’. Additionally, their ability to do things differently, while not becoming embroiled in the politics that inhabits any business, is key to their capacity to perform.
Not a Permanent Perspective
By their very nature, interims bring a fresh approach and often demonstrate that, while a deep knowledge of the business held by permanent staff may be useful, it is sometimes not enough to successfully drive a project or programme to conclusion.
What do you feel the top skills needed to be successful interim project and programme managers in today’s business environment? Share your experiences below.