A virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO) is a person who provides, on a part-time basis, expertise you would get from an in-house C-suite level Information Technology expert. They give strategic advice regarding the IT infrastructure of a business. Although there are many signs that a business needs virtual CIO services, a small business that has lean management without IT expertise is the most in need.
Small businesses may shy away from hiring virtual CIO services due to the cost implications. Virtual CIO services are mostly offered on a subscription service by agencies. Depending on the package, this could tally anywhere between $2000 to $10,000 a month. However, the cost savings for the company will be quite significant due to the expertise brought on board. Here are 8 ways a virtual CIO can save your small business money.
A Virtual CIO costs Less
The easiest way to view the value of a vCIO is that they offer expertise for a limited number of hours. They do not earn a full-time salary which would be north of $100,000 annually. Being able to tap into their expertise and experience at a fraction of that represents great value.
Setting Strategic IT Goals
The virtual CIO comes in and sits on the board of the company. This is symbolic because IT will receive more importance in the company’s overall planning. The virtual CIO helps the company see IT as a strategic resource in achieving long-term goals. The company set aside money for acquiring necessary IT infrastructure, hiring new IT staff, and training existing staff. By planning early, the company is no longer reliant on ad hoc acquisition which is often more expensive. The company can shop around for competitive prices, quality items, and proper training.
A Virtual CIO’s Opinion is Impartial
A virtual CIO has no stake in the company. Often, there are opposing forces within a company’s board over what IT strategy to follow or ignore. There are cases when opinions are based on personal interests, such as the acquisition of new infrastructure. However, a virtual CIO can give an unbiased opinion on whether a particular investment presents good value for the company. This minimizes the likelihood of investing in resources with a negative or low return on investment.
Managing Major Projects
Perhaps there is no better time to hire a virtual CIO than when undertaking a major IT project. A virtual CIO comes on board and helps with the process of putting together a team to run the project. They will likely have managed a similar project before and know the estimated costs and possible pitfalls.
The company can have contingency plans because unexpected occurrences can rack up a project’s costs rather quickly. Further, an experienced CIO knows other ways of ensuring projects run within the budgeted time and costs. An example would be adopting an agile project methodology where the CIO sits in a weekly update meeting. They can hold people accountable for their weekly deliverables.
Managing IT Vendors
In cases where a small business is heavily reliant on third-party IT vendors, a virtual CIO can help bring balance to those relationships. Being a non-tech savvy business owner, IT vendors might have an edge in negotiating contracts and honoring them. A vCIO will advise on contract values, terms, and highlight any possible breaches.
Hiring a virtual CIO to manage IT vendors not only ensures you get value for money, but it also frees up the business owner’s time to concentrate on other non-technical aspects of the business.
Virtual CIO Does Contingency Planning
When a vCIo audits a business’s IT infrastructure, it will identify areas of vulnerability. For instance, they might realize that the business will lose important data in case of a natural disaster. They might advise backing up data or relying on a managed cloud storage infrastructure. Other areas of vulnerability include the internal communication network between staff. The vCIO will advise on three liabilities of such a system. They might also assess the level of IT training the staff have been accorded and decide whether retraining is necessary. The training will most likely target the most vulnerable people within your organization.
One of the toughest roles managers have in organizations is hiring. In fact, non-technical managers may not be sure about how to set up an IT department. A vCIO can assess your IT staffing needs and advise on the number of staff your company needs, the qualifications, and years of experience the team needs. The IT landscape is changing rapidly each year with new development frameworks emerging.
A CIO is constantly in touch with these developments. They can easily recommend what technology stack the company should be seeking when hiring staff. They also advise on the compensation packages that will attract the talent the company needs.
A virtual CIO is likely to be informed about new trends in the IT space. They can also see opportunities for adding value or improving your internal processes. For instance, they might realize that automating certain processes could help save man-hours and reduce human error. They could also give strategic level advice, such as acquiring an existing business as opposed to building a new business unit from scratch and competing. Their knowledge of building businesses is invaluable.
There is always going to be new research published regarding where industries are headed. CIOs are charged with keeping in touch and advising a company on where to invest research and development money. A business will save money by investing in areas with the greatest likelihood of giving a reasonable return on investment.
Hire a Virtual CIO for Your Small Business Today
Hiring a virtual CIO is going to be worth it if your small business relies heavily on IT. They will help marry your IT strategy with overall organizational goals. They will help manage big IT projects, avoid potential pitfalls, hire and remunerate the right talent, and identify areas of vulnerability in your information security systems. Transcendent Software provides flexible virtual CIO services to businesses. We help businesses develop IT budgets, evangelize new technology, manage contracts, recovering from disasters, and more. For more information, schedule a consultation with us.