Jack Birch, Senior Manager - Interim Recruitment, shares his thoughts on the current state of the interim procurement and supply chain recruitment market.
What are the benefits of hiring an interim procurement professional?
Interim procurement practitioners are predominately highly experienced individuals who have made a conscious decision to deliver project-based or programme-related outcomes.
Due to their extensive knowledge and ability to ‘parachute’ into organisations at short notice, interim hires are an attractive offering for many businesses in need of immediate support.
Has demand for interim supply chain professionals increased as a result of Brexit, the pandemic and geopolitical situations?
Brexit has created new legislation and heightened supply chain issues – as the fallout from Brexit continues, more challenges are presented, which, in turn, creates more demand for highly skilled interims.
The initial stages of the pandemic created vast supply chain issues, notably around the scarcity of PPE, as the UK began to open up, the ongoing supply chain challenges presented by China’s stringent lockdowns and organisations wanting to near-shore supply chains have created opportunities for interims.
And finally, ongoing geopolitical instability and huge supply chain disruptions have had a knock-on effect on the demand for project-based interim professionals.
What sort of organisations are hiring interims currently?
Over the last six months, Procurement Heads has seen sustained demand from all sectors for immediately available, experienced procurement practitioners.
Particularly strong demand is being seen across:
- Financial services
- Energy and utilities
- The public sector – especially local and central government and the NHS
Where the needs are focusing on driving value, third-party risk management and ensuring “in life” contracts are meeting expectations.
And what skillsets are they looking for?
The seniority of the interims in demand varies – typically we are seeing opportunities between £500 and £900 per day – and most recently there is a movement from a 50/50 split of Inside/Outside IR35 to 70/30 Inside IR35.
A key factor in successful appointments is stakeholder management and the ability to drive forward while maintaining a sensitivity to the internal/external relationship to create a mutual, sustainable long-term partnership.
In particularly high demand presently are:
Change and transformation specialists – ranging from process and policy improvement through to full end-to-end transformation projects (especially within supply chain functions).
IT and technology category experts – are regularly in high demand, with lots of businesses looking for true subject matter experts in hardware, software and services categories.
Supplier Relationship Management – a growing trend within procurement functions, we’re now seeing clients regularly coming to Procurement Heads with specific SRM remits (often newly created) for a strategic focus on relationship-led liaison within their supplier bases
Contracts and commercial contract management specialists – given the changing economic landscape, businesses across all sectors are increasingly focused on ensuring they have robust, fit-for-purpose contracts in place with their supplier bases (and not solely for cost-saving purposes).
What are the risks of hiring interim professionals?
Because they are vastly experienced and used to delivering an immediate return on investment, interim hires represent a low-risk investment.
Furthermore, interim hires:
- Offer flexibility of resource – businesses can extend or end assignments with short notice periods as required
- Have highly specific deliverables linked to set projects
- Are able to navigate around the internal politics
- Know the “bumps in the road” and can take decisions to avoid them before they occur
- Understand their reputation is based on delivering against the brief – on time and preferably with added value
- Can upskill the existing workforce by osmosis, share years of experience and insights that never “get taught”
Why would an organisation consider making an interim hire as opposed to a permanent one?
Increasingly, we are seeing organisations utilising our services to hire interim and permanent procurement and supply chain professionals concurrently.
The profiles of procurement and supply chain have never been higher, largely as a result of the crucial role they played during the pandemic.
More often than not, interims are being brought into organisations to deliver specific projects.
There are typically two types of engagement – defined, specific projects and generic, non-defined help – the current focus appears to be the former of those.
The turbulence of the last few years has seen the stagnation/postponement/cancellation of (potentially) business critical projects and programmes.
This has had a significant impact on both the business strategy and the experience/toolkit development of the permanent employees.
The double impact means that there is a deficit of employees experienced in driving, leading and executing strategic projects and programmes right now and therefore an interim executive is a great solution.
The interim has the experience and is, therefore, able to create, lead and drive the project/programme successfully while at the same time coaching and mentoring the relevant permanent employees – so that they are able to accelerate their experience without having to learn from their mistakes as they go.
If you are looking to make your next interim procurement or supply chain hire, schedule a no-obligations conversation with Jack by booking some time in his calendar