Short term workers have always been an integral part of IT departments and the IT world has relied on temps, contractors and consultants for years to ensure that it runs smoothly.

The latest addition to this list of temporary personnel is the interim manager, whose profile in IT has risen greatly over the past decade says Claire Hain from interim management recruitment specialists, Praxis.

With their wealth of experience, interims have played an increasing role in developing and maintaining systems in both the public and private sectors, in organisations ranging from charities to hedge funds. More senior a position than the average consultant, and more involved in the organisation's goals and aspirations than a consultant, the interim is rewarded accordingly.

The best can choose which assignments to tackle and can take home anything up to £2,500 a day in return for their expertise. The demand for interims is certainly growing, with the Interim Management Association, the trade body for the sector, stating that the market will exceed £1 billion in 2008. So why have interims become so significant in the IT industry and who exactly are these individuals?

There are various reasons why an organisation may choose to bring in an interim. It is an efficient way to fill a senior position that may suddenly become vacant due to a resignation, sickness or maternity leave. Replacing high ranking personnel can be a lengthy process and an interim will plug this gap until the successor arrives.

However, with their high level of expertise and with the considerable amount that an organisation will be paying for it, the interim is most valuable in managing periods of major change and ensuring that key projects are handled effectively.

Interims are usually ex IT managers or directors who have chosen to leave full time employment in order to pursue this freelance career, taking on a range of challenging short term assignments.

They will consequently have a great pool of knowledge and experience to introduce and share in relation to a specific industry, package or project, such as establishing a shared service centre. An interim can not only devise a strategy but implement this and see it through to the end, without the client having to take on an expensive, long term senior employee.

Another reason why opting for an interim manager is proving to be such a popular choice as opposed to a consultant or contractor, is that in addition to their strong technical ability, interims also possess excellent people skills and the ability to deal with internal politics.

In order for their presence in a company to be effective, an interim must gain trust and respect from the staff and be able to motivate and direct them and to do this they must be able to grasp and use the power structure efficiently.

The interim is also effectively a trainer - as well as implementing their knowledge, they must pass it onto the existing staff to ensure that the necessary skills stay in the organisation and that their work is not undone once they leave. The most effective interims can be measured by how quickly they complete an assignment and how well the team runs once they have left.

Could interim management be your next big career move? Although some may question why a senior IT executive would give up such a secure and respected position to become self employed, there are many reasons why being an interim manager is often an attractive prospect.

A survey conducted by my own firm, Praxis, in January 2007 showed that the majority of interims expect to earn at least £100,000 in the coming year. With a choice of which assignments to take and their short term nature, interims also have a greater control of their work life balance and are able to take breaks between assignments. This is just not possible in a corporate role.

However, it is not for everyone. As an interim, the demand for your services is based on your track record and experience - you are only as good as your last assignment. An interim must make sure they are marketing themselves to secure new assignments and their next pay cheque.

As a potentially powerful and influential figure, an interim must have the confidence and commitment to succeed and forget job titles and the number of staff you directly control - interim managers require real expertise to flourish.