Think Twice Before Hiring that Consultant

Management consultants of all stripes should be in the executive’s arsenal of problem-solving weapons. However, before reaching for the phone next time you need objective advice, crisp analysis, extra horsepower,  and a fresh dose of best practices I encourage you to consider an alternative to consultants — the interim executive.

Interim executives, temporary executives, fractional executives — whatever term you use — usually offer several advantages to consulting firms if you’re only needing one or two people rather than an entire team.

  1. Experience. Typically, interim executives have already had stellar careers in industry and have chosen the freelance life style. They have book smarts and street smarts earned over careers spanning 20 or more years.
  2. Leadership. Temporary executives have led teams, departments, business units and companies. Many have started companies and have taken them through an IPO or M&A process. They literally work shoulder to shoulder with the management team.
  3. Allegiance. When an interim executive is on board with you they report to you and no one else. They don’t have a senior partner in a tower downtown urging them to increase billable hours.
  4. Get ‘er done yesterday.  Temporary executives are accustomed to stepping into companies, quickly assessing the situation, rolling up their sleeves and making happen whatever needs to happen. By nature they are men and women of action who are self-driven to get results. They specialist in delivering results not reports.
  5. Cost. As a general rule you’ll get more bang for the buck from an interim executive than you will from  a consulting firm. A senior-level consultant working for a firm will easily bill at $2,000 – $4,000 per day. Built into that day rate, of course, is the firm’s overhead and profit. Therefore, you’re not really getting a $2,ooo person, you’re more likely getting an $800 person, who bills at $2,000. When you hire an interim at, say, $2500 per day, you’re bringing on board someone who is really worth $2500 a day to you.
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