Are Interims suitable for SMEs?
SMEs are often unaware of the benefits of using an Interim Manager as they judge that using an Interim Management solution would be too expensive. However as Red Adair, the legendary oil well fire fighter once said, if you think using a professional is expensive, try using an amateur”.
However, when a SME decides to use an interim manager the benefits can often be pleasantly surprising.
Quatro Electronics Ltd, a company based in the north west of England that provides world-class security and monitoring solutions for challenging and temporary environments through an innovative monitored alarm with a video verification solution decided upon an interim management solution in 2012 as the business was experiencing unprecedented growth and needed to increase resources to support this.
It was an exciting time for Quatro Electronics. They were expanding the business throughout Europe and starting to make inroads into the lucrative North American market. In addition, there were several new products in the pipeline scheduled for launch in 2013.
Tom Barnard, Managing Director of Quatro comments, “Like a lot of SMEs a large proportion of the knowledge-based processes in our business were informal with members of the team carrying information around in their heads without it necessarily being written down. I knew that if we were to be successful in our growth strategy that we needed to formalise some of our business processes especially regarding how we sourced and managed materials, implemented engineering change and standardised on our manufacturing methods. In addition, I wanted to find someone to act as a coach and mentor to our operations management team, many of whom had been with the company for many years and as a result were not totally up to date with manufacturing best practise. I decided to appoint an Interim Production Director rather than make a permanent appointment as this gave me the flexibility and additional resource to make these changes whilst we looked for a long term permanent solution.
We selected an Interim Manager supplied by Aster Interim and set him a small number of key deliverables. We asked him to focus on improving material control, to manage the engineering change process, improve the factory layout and define staff roles and responsibilities. The work he completed had a positive effect on the business almost straight away. We reduced the backlog of overdue orders, improved our turnaround rate for product upgrades, significantly improved our stock accuracy and the factory became ‘visitor ready’ at all times.
The changes made then allowed us to implement stage two of our business development plan which was to outsource some of the long established products in order to create the in-house manufacturing capacity for the new products we were planning to launch in 2013. Our Interim Production Director managed the outsourcing process and developed a formal process for us so we could repeat this activity in the future if required. The results were impressive with significant cost reductions being achieved which in turn increased our gross margin.
With many of our processes now improved, a very healthy order book in front of us and capacity available to launch new products we have now been able to afford to appoint a permanent Production Director. I would thoroughly recommend using an Interim Manager to other SMEs to help bring about change“.