With the dynamism and fast-paced change of today's business environment, it is often safer and more culturally appropriate to bring interim and contract staff to define and carry out the major transitions demanded by the challenges and opportunities of digital. In fact, it is often unfair to ask permanent employees, who typically only have a narrow field of experience, to bring about fundamental changes to the way they work. A growing field of contractors is out there with an ability to be turned on and off as the situation requires, who can bring learnings from other projects, companies and sectors and who may be able to bring a fresh perspective without having to worry about established hierarchies and engrained politics.
Recent studies have shown that new ways of working have allowed independent interim and contract executives to power ahead of the more traditional management consultancies in client satisfaction scores. This makes sense given the more direct but flexible relationship that is possible and the fact that you pay for what you get rather than contributing to senior partners' bonuses. On the other side of the coin, interim staff will also be more aligned to you when they are directly contracted rather than being hired out under an opaque big four consultancy day rate.
What are the pitfalls? Quite simply there are two; how to find the right person for the right task and quality control.
Job titles change with bewildering frequency in the digital job market - you need to make sure that your version of the definition of e-commerce or marketing product is the same as the person you are hiring. Similarly, you do not have time for someone to prove themselves on the job; you need someone to hit the ground running.
We spend a huge amount of time and effort knowing our pool of Interim and Contract Executives. We know who is available and who will be coming up for new work. We have been working with them in many cases for almost 15 years - we know the right people.
Finally it is interesting to note that in about a third of cases, that really amazing interim will turn out to be exactly the person you need to lead the team on an on-going basis and you bring them on as a permanent member of staff. Try before you buy - often much less scary and less dangerous for both parties!