Contractor, Consultant or Interim Project Manager?

Why even bother with an Interim Project Manager?  You may be surprised…

Contractor, Consultant or Interim… what’s the difference or more importantly… which one should I engage? 

This is a common dilemma. A lot of firms we work with here at Formation could utilise an Interim Manager but will plump for a Consultant from a well-known practice because you’re buying a brand, a quality assured individual. It is a form of risk mitigation and often when engaging professional help, there is a lot of ‘career-risk’ attached to the decision. However, it’s often difficult to discern the difference you are receiving apart from the price and as we all know price is not a guarantee of quality. 

The figures out there are radically different to what I find. Over three-quarters of UK firms will actually go the Interim route over Management Consultants but of course the devil is in the detail. 

The differences between a Management Consultant and Interim Manager 

So, let’s start trying to work out the actual differences; In terms of skills, experience and expertise an Interim Manager and a Management Consultant will be comparable and look, feel and operate identically. Interestingly many Interim Managers have spent a chunk of their career at a Consultancy firm building up their profile ready to move into Interim assignments. The one key difference beyond a ‘brand’ is that Interim Managers are more likely to be do-ers, they can create and execute strategic and tactical plans. 

I think the BIG differences and probably the BIG benefits are the following and why firms should think hard when deciding between Managing Consultant firm over Interim Manager; 

  • Having a blend of strategic and practical means that Interim Managers tend to have up to the minute thinking that is applicable to a business 
  • Interim Managers are more likely to voice their opinion, provide a critical eye and challenge in an effective way 
  • Getting a project over the line will be in their DNA in a way that permanent employees do not often possess 
  • Will be independent and unlikely to sell other services in 

So, why go for an Interim Project Manager? 

In short, an Interim Manager is likely to hold an executive level position and will be tasked with seeing a project or department through to a conclusion such as a permanent hire or project sign-off. 

Contractor vs Interim 

Contract isn’t that the same as Interim? 

Often confused but there are clear differences and more importantly situations where a Contractor would be the most appropriate and cost-effective solution. 

A career Contractor will have a niche or specialist skill and will have the ability to deliver complex projects quickly, on budget and to specification. A Contractor will be more tactically focussed than strategic and will need to follow clear project briefs, workflows and existing reporting rather than to design a programme of work from scratch. 

Your starting point for deciding whether you go Contractor, Interim Manager or Managing Consultant should be determined by your firm’s risk appetite, nature of work and the support you expect this person to demand before you look at budget. A focus on what you can afford is likely to result in the wrong appointment which in turn could result in a failed project, demotivated team or additional unforeseen costs. 

At Formation we provide highly skilled Project Managers on an interim, contract or permenant basis, who can drive your projects and deliver fantastic results. We’re proud of our vetting process and track record of getting the right people in the right places. If you are still a bit confused and unsure what you need, please feel free to contact me anytime. 


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