A Virtual Chief Information Officer (virtual CIO) is not supposed to replace your existing IT staff. Instead, they are an experienced specialist meant to provide leadership and insight in your IT department. Companies today can engage the services of firms that specialize in fractional or shared CIO services and are therefore in touch with key sector developments.
Hiring a C-suite IT executive does not come cheap. However, the benefits of having an officer who brings business acumen and industry knowledge benefit the decision-making process of a company. A virtual CIO can replace and carry out the in-house CIO’s role. Here are six signs that your company is ready to partner with a virtual CIO.
Compliance Standards Might Need a Virtual CIO
Companies that keep sensitive client records are subject to several laws. A few of these laws include the Sarbanes Oxley Act, The General Data Protection Regulation law in the European Union, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
If your existing management team is unsure about how to comply with existing or new regulatory development, it may be best to bring a virtual CIO on board. They will evaluate what laws you need to adhere to and how best to do so.
Part of the evaluation includes highlighting areas that pose the greatest risk. Appropriate resources should be directed towards such areas. For instance, the Sarbanes Oxley Act holds CEOs personally responsible for all company records’ completeness and accuracy. In response, a virtual CIO will help craft and audit internal controls minimize the risk of misstatements.
Suffering High Technology Costs
The lack of overall leadership in your IT department can make your technology costs unpredictable or too high.
Companies that use vendor services need a well-thought-out strategy for selecting vendors who offer reliable services at competitive prices. Virtual CIO firms know about evaluating vendors to maximize uptime and minimize downtime.
Part of the reason companies suffer high IT costs is IT teams with too much duplication of roles. A part-time CIO can help streamline your IT team and rationalize salaries while ensuring the company still has the requisite skills to function optimally. A great advantage is that the shared CIO offers such value at a fraction of what your company would pay for a full-time CIO.
You Need Insight from Data
Interactions with customers ought to be a source of data on how best to improve your offerings to them. However, collecting, organizing, and analyzing data needs a proper strategy to get useful insights.
If your organization is currently not using any analytics, you might need to consult a virtual CIO to help decide areas of possible value from data. For instance, an e-commerce organization will want to measure channels that result in the most conversions. They might also want to find out pages that leak traffic from the website.
A certain threshold is required to justify the cost of data collection and analysis. A fractional CIO will help draw up a cost-benefit analysis.
You Need Business Continuity Plan
If your business has no recovery plan in case of disasters, you might need a CIO to help you draw one. More than 40% of small businesses close after a natural disaster.
Bringing in a virtual CIO can help map out the most appropriate back-up plan in case of unforeseen occurrences. Minimizing the recovery time will help the business mitigate losses.
Such plans come in handy when the business undergoes upgrades or periodic system maintenance that involve risks of data loss. The fractional CIO will be on hand to oversee such processes, make rapid decisions if need be and finally give a final report on the upgrade or change.
A Strategy for the Future
A peek into the near future could reveal whether you will need to partner with a virtual CIO. Expected growth and expansion of your IT resources might spring up the need to engage a CIO. As the value of the IT infrastructure increases, so does the need to ensure that the organization realizes the greatest value from such investment.
Growth often brings into focus new laws the organization needs to consider. It also increases the financial and reputational risk from non-compliance with such laws.
A CIO is an officer at the highest level of decision-making in the organization. They take part in strategic planning for the company. They can help predict human resource needs soon and develop a talent searching and retention strategy for the company.
Virtual CIO to Help Improve IT Security
When your organization is facing recurring security breaches, you may need a CIO to help assess areas of vulnerabilities. A large portion of security breaches arises internally. Hiring a virtual CIO will help assess and improve internal controls.
External breaches often target small businesses who do not have specialist staff or resources to monitor potential threats. If such threats repeatedly materialize at your business, a virtual CIO can help beef up your security. They will advise on the best way to spread out your IT security budget.
A virtual CIO helps to keep up with the latest trends in the IT world that your business could benefit from. This may include acquiring new equipment and using new services. Cloud-services are a mainstream way of delivering storage and analytics solutions today. A virtual CIO can help your team migrate to cloud-solutions in a bid to streamline operations.
Lastly, hiring a virtual CIO will help build an evaluation plan for IT department performance. The virtual CIO will help prepare a benchmark for measuring the return on investment in IT staff, vendor services, analytics, and physical equipment. This benchmark will help to decide on whether to increase spending on new staff and vendor services.
Part of the evaluation is assessing whether the IT function in your organization complement’s organizational goals. A virtual CIO will help create a convergence between them.
Your Virtual CIO Partner
If your organization is thinking about a virtual CIO, check out Transcendent Software’s Virtual CIO service. We can help you better manage your IT budget, improve information security, develop a disaster recovery plan, negotiate IT service contracts, and more.
Our Virtual CIO professionals possess decades of technical experience in executive IT leadership. We work with both small and large businesses to improve their use of technology.