The difference between a carpenter and an interim or project manager

I have been giving advice to a self employed carpenter who specializes in fitted wardrobes. Judging from observation, it appears that much of his day is lost, spent running around collecting last minute orders for brackets and hinges, extra wood, glue, screws, parts for his machines – whatever. He is always blaming his late deliveries on his suppliers, who appear to be constantly letting him down. Obviously my advice to him was to learn to better manage his suppliers and to invest more time in project preparation.

However, it got me thinking about my role as an interim manager – who exactly are my essential suppliers and how dependant am I on them?

Here’s a list, in a rough order of importance:

1. My mobile phone network supplier (no mobile, no business)
2. My bank (receiving funds and paying suppliers)
3. My ICT supplier (access to e-mails, MS Office + Project)
4. Car garage
5. Fuel stations
6. My accountant (legal compliance & tax optimization)
7. My insurance company (legal compliance + you never know)!
8. Lawyer

After item 8 the list begins to switch from essential to ‘nice to have’. However, it goes without saying that really, the most important supplier to an interim manager is themselves i.e. their health. Without it, we are quite simply finished – nothing, no income, no pension.

Thus I believe it is vital we invest in our health and general wellbeing over and above anything else. Luckily there are many doctors who agree that a glass (or two) of wine a day + a visit to the sauna or massage therapist, once in a while, does you good. Good restaurants and relaxing holidays in the Mediterranean are apparently also very beneficial.

So when I go over my profit margin figures for 2007, I can see clearly that my expenses have been very well balanced and entirely appropriate for a person with my profession…

Who are your essential suppliers?