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Being an Interim Manager interim project manager

by Roderick McInnes


High Demand For Interim Project and Programme Managers

With recent research and market intelligence showing that interim project and programme managers are still in need, Roderick McInnes explores the reasons why and what these professionals can do in order to make the most of the current business appetite.

42% of Organisations Use Interim Project And Programme Managers

Whether we are in a recovering economy, a growing economy or still seeing “red lights on the dashboard”, the one constant that appears to be in demand to drive things forward are expert project and programme managers (PPM) – especially in the world of interim.

Recent research from both the Alium candidate survey of over 1200 interims, and also a similar survey of over 100 business leaders, shows this clearly:

  • 43% of interims questioned believed PPM was one of the areas where interim expertise was needed the most
  • 42% of business leaders used interims for project or programme roles

So the need is there – and it is across many sectors as well. From higher education to legal, health to central government and transport, project and programme managers are providing essential skills and capabilities to organisations with a range of requirements.

Post downturn, many companies are having to find new and creative ways to run various projects or programmes. Whether the challenge is that a piece of work has been on hold for an extended period of time and can now come back on-stream, or it is a new project which requires investment and expertise, pushing this work forward can still be a challenge – and this is where the increase for interims is especially of note. Although the economic picture may have changed, the skills required of a PPM professional haven’t, especially from an interim viewpoint:

  1. Deliverables

Understanding exactly what the project or programme is to achieve is essential, not only for the interim delivering it, but for all stakeholders affected by it. Agreeing what needs to be achieved, when and by who, is a key part of a successful assignment.

  1. Timescales

Similarly, although most assignments are given an outline timetable, be prepared for this to change. Many projects and programmes can turn into a “moveable feast” and are open to mission creep. Stick to set deadlines, or have robust reasons as to why they should move. This area can also feed into the length of an interim PPM role altogether. In our research, 72% of interim assignments were extended last year, and the majority of them for more than six months. It is important to keep the time factor in mind so you can continue to set achievable goals.

  1. Communication

Although this can apply to all interim roles, when running a specific project or programme which has set deliverables and a tight timescale, strong communication is key. Make sure that those working with you are fully aware of progress and challenges you are facing, In this way you will ensure that you get the support needed. Failure to communicate will leave colleagues and hiring managers questioning your ability in a role, which, for an interim especially, is far from ideal.

On a positive note, increased demand for interim project and programme managers is always seen as a key indicator of economic change. But it is only through ensuring that the above standards are always adhered to that we will continue to see this level of demand.

Have you seen market demand increase for PPM professionals? What are your thoughts on what makes a successful project or programme manager? Share your thoughts below.

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About the Author

Roderick McInnes

Roderick is responsible for all aspects of the marketing and communications mix, ensuring Alium maintains its market position as the leading provider of interim and transformation talent in the UK and internationally.

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