First: What is a CIO?
A CIO offers a strong competitive advantage to larger companies as fulfilling this job brings a strategic and tactical perspective to the menu of IT solutions available. The CIO provides several key benefits to a company, including:
- Project Justification
- Feasibility Analysis
- Connections to Talent
- SWOT Analysis
- Project Management
- ‘C’ Suite Education and Advice
- Reporting and Presentation
No CIO...What To Do?
For companies missing this important role, there are alternatives. Some small companies contract a Managed Service Provider (MSP) to accomplish project execution and some level of justification and management. Some companies hire a vCIO to perform these duties. Skipping these duties altogether is also an option. Some companies use an experienced IT professional to fill this role.
Hiring a vCIO
There is an obvious problem with hiring a vCIO; if the vCIO is also charging contracts, then who is the vCIO really working for? MSPs offer vCIO services, but they also charge for the projects they recommend.
The primary objective when hiring a vCIO is to find a trusted partner. Seeking a vCIO with no conflict of interest offers the best chance of success. There are service offers that focus on vCIO as a service. These services do not offer contracts to accomplish projects, but rather just offer the management, analysis, and justification roles of the CIO.
Can an MSP fill the role of vCIO?
There are MSPs with ethics as a core of their offer. Some MSPs aim to create a valuable relationship with their clients. This valuable relationship must balance the profitability of the MSP with the growth and profitability of the contracting company. The MSP is always required to improve profitability for the MSP. Profitability and growth of the contracting company is always a secondary concern for an MSP; regardless of the marketing text.
Can an Experienced IT Professional be the vCIO?
Using an experienced IT Professional as a CIO is a useful strategy, but consider the ethics problem here also. The employee must complete the projects being analyzed. There are some employees with enthusiasm to complete projects that better their career. This may mean a high ROI project is not justified fairly.
Find a vCIO without a Conflict of Interest = Value
The ethics of hiring a vCIO is a critical part of finding a valuable source of information. The benefits of an ethical vCIO are dramatic and include:
- Documented Approach
- Focused review of IT Projects
- Improved ROI
- ROI Verification
- Depth of IT Experience
- Questions and Answers
- Accurate Project Execution
vCIO services provide a focused review of IT projects and a documented approach to understand how to reach better ROI from the information system. Question and answer is also a key component of vCIO services. Executives and project leaders have access to a depth of IT experience that helps ensure accurate project execution. Sharing ideas and knowledge is a key benefit of having access to an ethical vCIO.