STEVEN MOORE CEng, MBA, MIET
Experienced Interim Manager supporting Engineering & Technology companies.
About Steven Moore
Based in Scotland, Steven is an experienced senior executive, with a comprehensive track record for delivery with Engineering & Technology SME's within the Energy sector. With both board level experience and extensive management experience in Commercial, Financial, Quality and Operations Management, Steven can support your business on an interim or part-time basis.
Interim management services
Some businesses, especially those at an early stage, may not be a sufficient level of activity in a functional area to justify a full-time specialist manager in each function. In such cases, Steven can provide a temporary solution to implement and manage the critical and necessary support functions across Finance, Commercial, HR and Quality, typically in the role of COO or Operations Director.
This approach could help free up other members of the management team but especially the founders / owner Managers to concentrate more on the business. Steven can then help recruit permanent members of staff and if required, help onboard them into the organisation.
Where necessary, Steven can also help provide interim support to fuel growth, tackle chronic performance issues of support a turnaround programme.
How Steven works
Steven can be contacted for an initial discussion by phone, or a video conferencing facility to suit. This will of course be without any charge and will help determine if Steven is a suitable option for your your business needs.
Steven can work both on site or remotely if required. Steven is set-up to seamless integrate into your business communication infrastructure and is competent with the latest suite of remote tools.
Some examples of where Steven has provided support to Engineering and Technology SME's
Business growth stalling due to Founder(s) / Owner Managers(s) bogged down in day-day tasks
Before hiring an Interim Manager, it may be worth considering if you have internal resources that can be redeployed.
Calculate what is most cost effective. An Interim Manager will have sufficient experience to get underway fast but will likely leave at some point. Sometimes, it may be better to invest in recruiting a permanent staff member but take into account additional training, engagement and onboarding costs. In addition, Interim Managers are likely to require less management oversight.
Consider making a checklist of the skills and attributes the interim needs to possess to get the job done. Do you need someone with specific sector or product knowledge? Or do you need someone who can bring fresh thinking into the business?
Managing change: Example - transitioning from R&D into Manufacturing business
Took over the responsibility for managing the company’s main technology development projects, ensuring all new products were being designed for manufacture using a common design philosophy.
Harnessed the creativity and skill of the R&D Engineers to help decode complex 'hand-crafted' manufacturing techniques into high volume, process driven and tool orientated production techniques.
Designed, constructed and commissioned a new production facility with an emphasis on workflow design, worker productivity and asset utilisation. Steven also compiled all the work pack and production documentation.
Implemented visual metrics and dashboards to help both staff and customers understand progress and provide confidence for consis on-time deliveries.
Reduced the range of products under development by identifying growth products with significant proven market demand.
Recruited, trained and transformed a team of engineers and semi-skilled technicians into a high performance manufacturing team delivering a product range that until previously could only be produced by very highly skilled and experienced personnel. This was achieved through custom designing a training and competency scheme, team development and personal coaching.
Accessing funding to fuel growth
Access to adequate funding in early stage Engineering & Technology companies can be critical. Most companies have an awareness that ‘cash’ is available but are not sure how to access it. In addition, many companies simply don’t have the time or resources to pursue it as in reality, it is very unlikely an institution, agency, bank or investor is going to award or inject any significant capital into the business without a detailed application, proposal, business plan or similar.
Steven has extensive experience in applying for grants, government funding, entering competitions, applying to local agencies and seeking banking support. The approach to each source is usually quite different and will depend on the stage of the business and its needs.
What is very important however is that effort is maximised for the largest return. Steven has created business plans, completed successful applications etc., by able to understand the needs, concerns and risks of the fund holder, but also being capable of understanding and communicating the technical and commercial potential of the product or service and the business.
Steven has secured numerous grants awards, bank finance and assisted negotiating private investments. In addition, where appropriate, Steven has assisted with applications to local agency schemes for ‘Manager for Hire’ funding and similar programmes which has helped cover the cost of Steven's support.
Cash flow management and performance reporting
A growing technology company had a rudimentary cash flow system managed on a weekly basis by the CEO. Like many Engineering & Technology companies, cash flow can be turbulent, especially in a project type environment. Thankfully, the company recognised the importance of cash. This process was consuming at least a day of effort each week, distracting the CEO from product development, engineering support and developing solutions with clients.
In addition, a recurring issue was struggling to pay VAT and related taxes on time.
Working with the CEO, Steven determined what was critical to the CEO and why. Steven simplified the data gathering process and implemented separate holding accounts which were drip fed with cash until they could cover all expected future tax liabilities. This account could not be used for day-day expenditure and this discipline helped implement spending control and cash management within operations.
In addition, leveraging the accounting software, weekly reporting was moved to monthly management accounts, with only a brief summary provided on cash, invoices raised, creditor and debtor position.
The CEO could take a hands-off approach and focus on the business knowing that all tax payments were accounted for and the weekly reporting should provide early warning of potential issues. Financial performance could now be scrutinised on a monthly basis, with the Management team taking more responsibility.
Cost management and profitability improvement
Cost management is critical in all organisations but especially in Engineering and Technology companies as they can be very capital intensive, project orientated and exposed to supply chain issues. Steven has tackled cost and profitability in several companies and in one case, a company was struggling to understand why profitability was deteriorating rapidly.
Steven implemented a CVP (Cost, Volume, Profit) methodology to help the business better understand the relationships between these three variables. In addition, Steven introduced the “Engine” and “Chassis” concept. These are less well recognised but are simply representations of what components of the business deliver cash (engine) and the overhead that supports the business (chassis). Understanding this helped the business understand the contribution each service & product stream must contribute to the business so that the chassis can be paid for and a profit delivered.
The business was geared towards delivering in volume so as soon as the volume dropped off, the negative impact to profit delivery was more acute. Steven worked with both the operations and sales team to produce a forecasting model to help predict performance so options could be assessed prior to suffering losses.
The business became more agile and recognised that delivery streams had to be balanced both to manage capacity and adjust to changes in volume. Cycles were recognised and sales effort deployed to maximise consistent profit.
Implementing an ISO accredited QHSE Management System
The organistion was under increasing pressure to become an approved supplier a pre-requisite was to have a certified QHSE system. This is increasingly common and helps both parties manage their risk. However, this company had multiple business streams and quite a complex scope making certification to ISO level much more challenging.
The organisation already had a rudimentary system in place and rather than start from scratch with a “template” or “kit” which may help gain accreditation but may not serve the business, Steven harnessed upon what was already working well within the system already in place, brought up to the required standard, addressing shortfalls and importantly, involving the operatives and line managers in the process.
The system was certified by LRQA to 9001:2015, 14001:2015 & 18001:2007 on first attempt. The system remains in place and helped the business become an approved supplier for major companies within the Oil & Gas industry. In addition, Steven achieved FPAL verification and achieve BINDT accreditation for providing training and an approved test center, one of only a handful in Scotland.
Recruiting technical personnel
The business had seen a significant increase in manufacturing orders and required more staff to full fill. However, it was located in an expensive location with a tight labour market.
Steven assessed the actual work required and rather than hire very expensive personnel which would typically cost significantly higher salaries than the price point could absorb, Steven approached the problem differently. By breaking down the manufacturing and workflow processes into cells which had different skills level requirements, the business could recruit to meet the competence required to meet certain stages of production such as chemical mixing, wiring, assembly, test and so on. Therefore, the business did not need very expensive superstars who could complete the entire process.
In addition, the manufacturing documentation was re-packed into flip-card format, emphasising images rather than text and each new recruit went through “basic training” of electrical theory, soldering, bonding etc.
In one case, the company could not develop or purchase machinery that could deliver the dexterity of a particular gluing operation. Steven hired a seamstress who had just arrived in the UK and she was trained her to carry out a very repetitive but critical operation. The human skills of dexterity, concentration, accuracy and coping with repetition paid dividends. Of course, quality stage checking was implemented as part of the workflow.
The business succeeded in meeting the requirements and continued to receive re-peat orders. The workforce became a very strong team and where possible, were trained to carry out ever more complex tasks increasing their own skill levels, personal satisfaction and providing the business with more flexibility.
The business remained profitable where the only other reasonle option would be to move production to a lower cost location.
In some cases, matching transferable skills sets with very complex, High risk tasks can work, if sufficient training, support and documentation is provided.
In addition to testing knowledge, consider testing raw skills in novel ways. In the case above, Steven asked all new starts to build a model aircraft during the interview. It was very, very clear which potential recruits may not have faired well if employed – even the clever ones.
Even though salaries were lower with less experienced staff, it was still very important to calculate the cost of training, new documentation etc., so that the profitability of the product stream could still be maintained.
Improving strategic objectives using context analysis
The business was growing but not at the pace the owner of the business was expecting. One of the key gaps in information was a detailed understanding of how the business was positioned within the context of the marketplace. The “market intelligence” was, for the most part, inside the owner’s head. As an owner manager, he was very clear where he wanted to take his business. Unfortunately, his Management team was less clear.
The key challenge was to extract, decode, question and then articulate the owner’s intent to the rest of the business. Steven implemented a context analysis framework to append the business planning process. The components were:
Determining the vision and mission
Value Chain Analysis
A business plan that reflects the intent of the business in a format that was communicated to the business in a town hall event and used as part of ongoing performance management.
Measurable strategic objectives, developed by the Management team who were now accountable for their performance. The objectives now have an increased likely hood of being achieved as the team know their department’s capabilities and can now align them with the mission and strategy of the business.
Increasing sales volume and freeing up Owner Manager
The company was experiencing significant growth but was relying on a very small team, principally the Owner Manager to deliver enough sales volume to support the business. This was leading to fatigue and disengagement.
Steven worked with the Owner Manager to decode the sales process and separate into the following categories:
- Pipeline Management, prospecting and business development
- Developing Engineering solutions
- Qualification, pricing and proposals/tenders
- Sales process management and handover to operations.
The Owner Manager was comfortable in each area but was spending less and less time at the front, value adding end as the volume of proposals had increased as had the need for technical input at handover stage.
As Steven had both a strong technical and commercial background, he created an “engine” within the function. The Owner Manager was released to focus 100% on both front-end business development works and developing the Engineering solutions, which was a key USP of the business. With a minimal technical handover, Steven prepared all proposals, managed the technical handovers to Operations and performed all the contract and risk management requirements. In addition, Steven was sufficiently competent to work with the Operations team to improve both costing and delivery accuracy in proposals.
In addition to the more than doubling of the volume of proposals submitted per month, the Engineering solutions were more developed and resulted in a more secure pipeline or orders, increased client traction and repeat orders. In addition, Steven was able to negotiate more balanced contracts, reducing exposure and protecting IP.
Once the system was established, Steven helped recruit a technically competent Sales Engineer to replace him.
Harnessing partnerships to leverage technological capability and maintain competitive advantage
The company was leader in the filed of Acoustic Transducer Technology. Only a hand full of companies worldwide had the capability to both design and manufacture this technology. One of the key constraints was access to state-of-the-art technology required to retain competitive advantage.
Steven engaged with several UK based universities, agencies and spin-out companies to create mutually rewarding partnerships. This resulted in being awarded two KTP’s (Knowledge Transfer Partnerships) and a partnership with a specialist start-up company that provided unique data processing technology. Steven managed all relationships, contracts, applications and associated administration.
Combining the acquired academic theory, external data processing capability and coupling with the company’s in-house design and manufacturing capability produced a state-of-the-art broadband capability, resulting in major defence contract awards.
Broad capability but focused execution
If improvements are required, Steven can support the existing Management team develop or fine tune improvement programmes and support their implementation.
Where Steven is required to implement change directly or tackle an urgent or chronic issue, it may be necessary to get hands-on directly onto the coal face, to understand the issues and the challenges staff may be facing or to assess inefficiency.
Steven has both the adaptability, experience, competence and willingness to deep dive into operations, including technical execution, when deemed necessary and appropriate. The insights gathered and the relationships forged can, if required, be leveraged upon to develop targeted, valuable and well designed operational improvements.
If you would like to contact me, I can be contacted on the details below.