Expert Insights

More than 8 in 10 businesses underwent transformational change in 2017

A global survey by interim management specialist IXPA has found that 85% of businesses underwent transformational change in 2017.

The study looked at the key challenges facing organisations around the world over the past 12 months and asked leaders how they were tackling them.

More than half of respondents said they used interim managers to support them through change, with a third stating that the reason for calling in external help was an internal skills gap. The fact that the cost of interim support does not sit on the balance sheet was also seen as a significant benefit. In most cases the interim experts worked in partnership with existing employees to deliver change programmes together or interims were brought in to lead internal talent.

The survey discovered that the vast majority of change management initiatives led by interim managers had been considered successful, with two-thirds of companies rating the success of the project as 75% or higher.

IXPA has 14 partners working across 17 countries to deliver interim management experts, often combining their local expertise on projects with an international remit.

Mark Kitchen, IXPA’s partner in the UK, said the survey demonstrated that businesses worldwide recognised the need to draft in experts with specific industry and functional expertise to deliver major change.

“Change is an inevitable part of running a successful business, whatever industry or country the organisation happens to be operating in,” he said.

Mick McGeehan, one of IXPA’s partners in Asia, added: “The data in our survey highlights the fact that most companies now accept this as a fact and are comfortable in their strategy of introducing short-term targeted support to lead and drive transformation to achieve their business objectives.”

With an increasing number of businesses operating across more than one country, more than half (56%) of respondent businesses surveyed said they would definitely or probably be looking for an interim executive with international experience in 2018.

When asked what they expected to be the key challenges facing their organisation in 2018, more than half of respondents (61%) said it would be to manage change in the right way. Finding and retaining talent was considered to be their second biggest challenge, with the need to increase profitable sales growth as the third factor on the priority list for executive board members.

Of those companies who appointed interim managers, 8 out of 10 said the key benefit had been expertise. Other benefits included providing additional support through a challenging period and generating measurable results.

Ambroise Baroan, IXPA’s representative in Africa, said: “Interestingly, none of the respondents ruled out seeking support from interim executives or independent consultants in 2018 and almost two thirds (62%) said they would be likely to appoint an interim.”

Frank Neuhaus, IXPA’s partner in Brazil, concluded: “This demonstrates that businesses around the world recognise the inevitability of change and are comfortable with the idea of using external specialists to deliver a successful outcome.”