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4 important interim trends for CFOs

The modern CFO is increasingly involved in the hiring process. Hence, it is important to know what is going on in the operational interim management market. We set out the most important trends. 

Trend 1: The backfill method

A trend we are seeing a lot of now, is the so-called backfill method. Traditionally, interim managers are hired to take on extra work or a specific project within an organisation, such as the implementation of an ERP system. The backfill method reverses this process: permanent staff work on the new project, while operational interim managers are temporarily hired to take care of day-to-day operations.

This new process has several advantages. The most obvious one is that all knowledge about the new project remains within the organisation. In the past, it sometimes happened that this knowledge disappeared along with the interim manager when the project was completed. In addition, backfill allows permanent employees the opportunity to work on an interesting project themselves. Doing so, they remain more closely involved and can develop themselves further. Finally, the operational interim manager regularly identifies bottlenecks or points for improvement in daily business processes, which enables efficiency gains to be made in regular activities as well.

However, an experienced external project manager is often hired to steer the entire process in the right direction. In many cases, these are complicated implementations or projects and it is important to have someone who is able to guide the team and help where necessary.

Trend 2: Hiring operational interim managers to select appropriate BI software

It's a full-time job these days to find Business Intelligence tools which are the right one for your business. All stakeholders must be consulted about their preferences, the nice-to-haves must be distinguished from the need-to-haves, providers of these tools must be invited to give presentations, and so on. In a small organisation, it is still possible to organise this in-house, but in large companies the trend is to hire an external expert to make this selection. 

There are many operational interim managers who specialise in this type of tool, for example business controllers or business analysts. They keep the process clear and ensure that a company chooses the BI solution that is most suitable for the organisation. It is very common that this professional stays on to oversee the implementation as well.

Trend 3: Demand for business and financial controllers will only increase due to the pandemic

Because of the pandemic, many companies are focusing on costs, which means that many operational interim managers within business controlling are being hired to map out the financial situation completely and in detail. Companies want to know exactly where they stand and whether they are future-proof, or how they can become future-proof.

At the same time, financial controllers are also in demand. The reason for this, is that there is still a lot of work to be done with regard to the annual accounts, and many companies have to keep a close eye on cash flow, reporting and further digitalisation.

Many organisations have their own business controllers, financial controllers or both, but especially due to the corona crisis, the workload has increased to such an extent that extra financial professionals are needed.

Trend 4: After a small dip, rates are back to the old level

At the beginning of the corona crisis, the interim management rates for financial professionals dropped. Because of all the uncertainty that prevailed initially, interim managers settled for a bit less or reduced their working hours. But after the situation stabilised in the summer and everyone got used to the new normal, they quickly went up again and are now back at pre-pandemic levels. 

Furthermore, it is no problem for interim managers to work from home and start up independently. I do advise organisations to arrange a good onboarding and to get to know each other at least once in real life. 

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