The Programme & Project Management Division
There is a real sense the interim market is experiencing strong growth. Indeed, as our current financial year draws to an end, we can reflect on what has been a record year. There are also strong indications that 2014/15 will build on this as both Odgers Interim and the wider market continue to grow.
Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the professional interim managers we represent, business has been strong across all sectors and disciplines. However, I believe the way in which clients engage with providers and interim managers has changed over recent years. Programme and project management continues to be the leading source of demand for our services and it is in this area where that change is most notable.
Following the financial crisis and subsequent economic turbulence, there was a huge increase in demand for Programme and Project Managers capable of supporting the scale of change required in the Financial Services sector. Underpinning this demand was forced merger/demerger activity, fundamental regulatory change, most of which started long before the crisis however accelerated in the aftermath, and finally addressing continued revelations around mis-sold products or services. As other sectors saw demand for programme managers diminish, M&A activity generally dried up and there was little appetite to invest in large scale capital projects or system implementations, Financial Services was experiencing unprecedented levels of demand.
A general trend until recently has been to throw resource at challenges as they arise and this has typically involved engaging large volumes of Project Managers; a case of lots of Project Managers and no Project Management. And to some extent this was true of other sectors in the boom years leading up to the crisis. The general scope and objectives of a given programme had been ill defined and the view that bodies on the ground would ensure success prevailed. It also gave a very visible message that management was doing something about the problem. As the sense of impending armageddon has subsided a more rational and considered approach to engaging interim project professionals has emerged.
Our clients have a clearer view of what the benefits of a particular programme are and where existing management need external support in delivering them. This may involve a single appointment to lead a programme at the most senior level or multiple hires working across various work streams. In all cases, clients have a far clearer business case for bringing in an external resource and a better understanding of where they need that support and for how long.
As demand for programme and project professionals grows strongly in other areas outside Financial Services we see a more targeted approach in the use of interim resource across the board. This is good news for interim providers and professionals alike as clients fully appreciate the value of the services we all provide and also have a better understanding of project management as a discipline in its own right. An increasing number of clients accept that sector specific knowledge does not make someone a good Project Manager.
With this more considered approach comes an extended hiring process, often involving two stages and a longer lead time. This can be frustrating for all parties but I believe it's essential in building client confidence and supporting the business case for interim management.