The 5 Most Important Factors to Consider When Choosing Virtual CIO Services

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When considering hiring a vCIO for your organization, it’s critical to define the role and expectation first, and then, you can evaluate the vCIO individual or provider that is right for you.

So, what is vCIO?

A vCIO or virtual CIO, also known as a fractional CIO, is a contractor or company that serves as an organization’s chief information officer. Their duties or functions are like a conventional CIO, like strategic IT planning, IT budget planning, implementing IT business processes, and aligning the IT to meet the goals of the organization.

The traditional CIO job is a full-time position and it can range from $150,000 to over $500,000, as such SMBs are turning to virtual or fractional CIO where the pricing structures are more budget-friendly. Virtual CIO consulting service offerings vary from hourly rates, to flat fees, and even monthly recurring subscription services with the price based on the size of the business and many other factors.

You are probably wondering, how can a virtual CIO help my IT department if I need someone to be in the office?

vCIO’s though responsible for the IT department and overseeing the day-to-day operations it is important to realize that a vCIO is not a replacement for an IT support help or managed service provider (MSP) who provides IT advisory services, and helps in IT projects implementation.

A managed service provider’s job is technology service delivery, whereas vCIO provides the expertise a business needs to improve its long-term IT strategy.

As the saying goes, it is better to prevent problems than it is to fix them: If you want to stay up-to-date with your business services, and prevent IT problems before they occur – you need a CIO or virtual CIO who can deliver on these 5 important factors for your organization’s success.

Here are some of the benefits of having a virtual CIO?

A virtual CIO can help with

  • Preventing costly downtime, errors, and lost revenue by providing an effective strategy and plan
  • Keeping your business up to date with the latest technology that is available
  • Providing a far greater ability for managing IT projects without being tied down by geographical constraints

Factors to Consider When Choosing Virtual CIO Services

#1 – Strategic planning and direction of the overall IT strategy

Many organizations lack understanding of the importance of IT strategic planning and see it as an unimportant task.

The vCIO is the person at the top of an organization’s IT team. He or she is responsible for determining how best to allocate resources and create a strategic plan, as well as directing the overall IT strategy. The vCIO works with other managers, including COOs and CEOs, to make sure that their technology investments are aligned with company goals.

IT strategic planning is increasingly important in order to stay ahead of the competition, a CIO will ask tough questions like how long your business can operate before a disaster impacts your bottom line? Which systems can be gotten rid of or replaced? What training is needed? What are current challenges, and do they have well-defined success metrics?

#2 – Budgeting and cost controls

IT infrastructure needs to be planned for a business to grow. A CIO or vCIO can help you procure and or outsource your IT infrastructure in a cost-effective manner and help you save time and money. Choosing the right service provider is the key to getting value for your money and having a knowledgeable CIO can ensure that your organization gets the most from its IT budget.

IT infrastructure can be a major obstacle to the success of business processes. IT leaders need to work with operations, marketing, and sales staff to identify bottlenecks in the business processes and then work with IT to resolve them.

#3 – Team building and accountability of the IT team

The CIO or vCIO is the leader of your IT team with a reporting relationship to senior management. The role has increased complexity and requires more accountability in order to maintain credibility with stakeholders. The CIO or vCIO’s role is to lead and manage the IT team in a way that satisfies business needs.

Here are some of the things a CIO would work on with the IT team.

  • The ability of the IT team to work with other teams in a collaborative manner
  • The technologies that the CIO uses to manage his or her team
  • The level of training and certification for the IT team members

#4 – Business processes, governance, and risk management

The CIO or vCIO is responsible for the development and management of business-critical processes, efficiency, and knowledge management. The CIO’s expertise is unique in not just implementing knowledge management for the whole company or organization but also the knowledge they bring to efficiently run a company’s IT infrastructure with proper governance and risk management for business continuity.

CIOs are also expected to be innovators and leaders in their organizations. If your business is growing rapidly, you need a virtual CIO who can help make decisions while keeping costs low.

#5 – Vendor selection, contract negotiations, and partnerships.

The process of selecting software or hardware has a direct correlation to an organization’s growth. A good CIO can greatly improve the efficiency or agility in an organization with the right vendors and partners while ensuring contracts are placed to ensure the organization is properly protected.

Whether we’re talking vCIOs, outsourced CIOs, or fractional CIOs, they all have similar responsibilities and goals.

The decision between a full-service vCIOs and an outsourced CIO will depend greatly on the requirements of each organization. Other considerations include location, cost, the complexity of support services, and the appetite of an organization’s employees to take on the responsibility of their own IT.