Interim Case Studies

Interim roles come in a wide range, both in the issues to be delt with and the time allowed. Most projects I have delt with are where the company has a specific problem, that they lack the expertise or time to deal with internally, and where bringing in someone with outside experience and specific skills can help deal with their issues.

Over the past few years I have undertaken a number of interim roles, each one with a specific problem that needed resolved.

In one example an early stage company had produced some interesting online software, but was unsure how to turn this into a successful business, and what drove shareholder value. Working with the founder we looked at what would drive the value of the business, and as with many small companies adding scale is the first critical step towards adding shareholder value.

From there we worked together to look at what kind of company they wanted to build and what would be their revenue model. They could be a software company and either rent or sell the software. Or they could give the software free and use the resulting traffic to generate advertising revenue. Once this was done building a plan to take the company to be cash flow positive could be produced and investment successfully raised.

I have also had with another early-stage software company had following a thorough review, through the difficult reality which was the software they had developed was already out of date. And they lacked the resources to develop new software which would be in direct competition to the biggest tech companies in the world. A difficult discussion, but as an Interim you have an obligation to bring the truth, even when it is unpleasant.

On some occasions one is brought in to solve a clear issue such as a lack of revenue growth despite investment, and during ones review it becomes clear that the issue behind the lack of growth is actually a structural issue within the management of the business.

The management of this organisation lacked any real structure, therefore a lot of intelligent and committed people were trying to do each other’s job to the point few real decisions were ever made or implemented, and no one took responsibility for anything.

In such cases producing an organigram and clear job specifications is simply not enough, one has to educate the managerial team on how and why business structure is critical.

As an Interim you finding the answer is normally the easy bit, the real skill is in taking the management and the company with you, and this takes time invested in explain and teaching.

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"Mark proved to be the most successful appointment to the company’s executive team at a demanding time, when the business was growing rapidly. His recommendations dramatically improved the business model. He showed himself to be market orientated, with great strengths of being able to focus both at strategic and tactical levels. He is intelligent, analytical, able to lead effectively, and financially aware. There is no doubt Mark deserved considerable credit for his contribution to the outcomes achieved for the shareholders and team members during his period with the company. September 13, 2009."

Howard Field, Director, Hospitality Careers Online Inc

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