Management in an On-Demand World

The cover story of the March issue of Inc Magazine was about Zipcar, an innovative company that specializes in renting cars by the hour to its members. It’s a very attractive concept for city dwellers and students who don’t need a car every day and may not have a safe and affordable place to park a car even if they had one.

When you need a car to run errands or for a day-trip to the country just reserve a Zipcar. Pay for what you use. Transportation on demand.

In the same week that I read this article I spoke with a company, eVapt, that has developed a better way to meter software as a service (SaaS). The growth curve of Saas applications is impressive. No wonder. The technology allows companies to pay for how much they use of a particular software application. Use a lot, pay more; use infrequently, pay less. Makes sense. Software on demand.

So, when a company looks at its marketing and sales resources and sees that there are a few gaps why aren’t those gaps being immediately filled with managers on demand?

Too often I see companies let a vacancy in a key position go unfilled for months while the recruiting process grinds along. The smart move is to put an interim executive in the position and keep the momentum going until the perm hire can step in.

Then there’s the case of the gap in critical skills or bandwidth for a mission-critical initiative. Why aren’t more companies being honest with themselves about what their current staff can and can’t do during the time period? And we wonder why product launch dates are missed or compromised. Evaluate where special skills and experience are needed and add a seasoned interim manager to the team.

Using interim management resources today seldom is an indication that a company is in trouble. It means companies are being really smart about resource allocation. Alas, old perceptions are slow to change.

We look at customers who use Zipcar and say, “Good thinking. Use a car whenever you need it, but only pay for what you use.” We see companies that save millions of dollars a year by adopting SaaS instead of traditional software licensing. We think, “Wow, those guys are really using their cash wisely.”

What do you think when a company, perhaps your own, considers an interim management solution?

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