"We call them consultants," he said, "because we get them from a consulting firm after it comes in and studies a problem area and tells us what we need to do. Sometimes it can take 4 to 6 months to find the right person to hire permanently for a management slot, so the consulting firm provides a temporary person. Right now, both our materials manager and our purchasing manager are temporary people."
Kleist said he wasn't aware of companies like Stevenson's. But because Printronix "has had good experience" with temporary managers, he said, "I guess I'm endorsing the validity of the idea."
The Same Arguments
Stevenson and others pushing the interim management concept are well aware of concerns like those voiced by Vargas and the Tektronix official--they run into the same arguments on a daily basis as they try to sell their services.
"But I try to explain to them that interim management isn't a way to avoid permanent hiring," Stevenson said. "Instead, it is a way of augmenting it. You don't make your top managers and policy-makers interim people, but you hire interim managers to provide skills that are lacking until those skills aren't needed anymore."
Crandall said that the typical Corporate Staff assignment is "like our name: corporate staff functions, support work, human resources, financial management, marketing, public relations, computer systems and procurement. I don't think we work, or try to work, as an alternative when there is a a real need for a permanent person."
But temporaries don't lose their competitive edge or their skills just because they are temporary, Crandall argues. "The people that do this work recognize that they won't be successful unless the client is happy."