The Outsourced Integrator
Preparing for the Transition to CEO
Finding the right person to be your Integrator can be difficult, especially when you have limited time and resources. That’s why we recommend hiring an outsourced integrator at first, also known as an outsourced Chief Operating Officer. An outsourced Integrator will work with you for a limited period of time to set up the systems to effectively delegate operations and help you with the process of hiring a full time integrator to take over. This post will tell you about outsourced Integrators and how to evaluate potential candidates.
When looking for an Outsourced Integrator, you should find someone with demonstrated experience in helping business owners become CEOs by building out the management systems required for a company to increase profit margins.
The person may or may not have an MBA, but experience is the most important indicator of effectiveness. Reviews and references go a long way to prove that an integrator can benefit you. It also helps if the candidate has a digital presence in the form of social media posts, blogs and downloadables that communicate their approach and mindset, so you can determine if they are a good fit with your style.
An excellent Integrator always takes a period of time to analyze the specific situation of a business before they make a plan for improvement. This is usually called an audit. They should use this time, often 1 to 2 months, to gain deep insights into your business strategy, workplace culture, systems and processes and contextualize those findings within your industry and target markets.
You should expect a full and comprehensive report at the end of the audit that communicates these insights and includes a sense of direction in the form of a list of suggested improvements.
If that audit provides clarity and a compelling sense of direction, then you should hire the Integrator for a short period of time, 3 to 6 months, to set up your business to move in that direction.
The goals of the Integrator should be to work with you to customize and implement the management systems you need in key departments to improve:
- Competitive Advantage
- Customer Value
- Efficiency and Productivity
- Employee Accountability
- Workplace Culture
- Revenue & Profitability
- Time Management
Once those systems are developed, they should train you and your key employees on how to use them, so you’re fully prepared to make progress when they’ve left.
You should also have a clear plan for hiring a full time Integrator, whether that’s promoting someone you trust from within your organization or finding someone outside the organization.
Be wary of open ended arrangements. A common business model in the consulting industry is gaining an executive’s trust and milking them for all they’ve got to save on sales costs. If an outsourced Integrator can’t put a time frame on their work, then it could take more money and time than they’re services are worth.
Excellent Integrators usually work on a monthly retainer plus expenses for travel, room and board, of they need to travel more than 50 miles to work with you. They charge between $5,000 to $25,000 per month or more. Rates depend on the integrator’s business model and level of expertise. Many Integrators use a needs-based business model, which means they try to do a lot of things for a few customers. They aim to serve only a few clients at a time to fix a wide variety of issues, so they charge a high rate to compensate for their expertise and time to cover their costs.
If possible, look for a firm that can work with a higher volume of customers at one time instead of relying on an independent consultant. A firm will have the infrastructure and organization to do an excellent job, usually at a more competitive and affordable price.
Got Your Back
The whole purpose of an Integrator is to have someone who can back you up and protect you as you grow your business. If an outsourced Integrator doesn’t have that mindset and seems to be more interested in their own approach than truly improving your business, then they aren’t worth it no matter how great they appear. Your organization needs lasting change and that can only happen if a consultant sets you up for success instead of making you dependent on their services and vision.
Do Your Research
Before you hire an integrator, you should familiarize yourself with the basics of business management. A good place to start is with the 5 stages of business. All businesses fall under one of these 5 stages and sometimes more than one. Learn more in our next post.