If you’re a small business, you may not have a Chief Information Officer. In fact, you may only have one or two people handling IT and information security for your entire business. Even some businesses that have 50 or so employees don’t have someone who is fully dedicated to information security and analysis. Even if you know you need a CIO, the cost may be prohibitive. Like many C-suite individuals, a CIO can command a fairly high salary.
To combat this, some companies take a CIO job description and try to split it up among several of their IT staff. This might sound like a good idea, but it rarely works out well. These individuals likely don’t have the experience a full CIO would have. Trying to split the job also means that you don’t have one person who has a full view of your company’s information and technology.
There is one way to take advantage of everything a CIO offers without hiring a full-time expert or splitting the duties: use a virtual CIO. A virtual CIO is an outsource
d position that provides you with a CIO when you need one. This allows you access to an experienced executive for a set amount of time each month. It means you don’t have to pay the salary or provide the benefits a CIO would demand, though, so you don’t have to worry about the budget as much. You also have one person who can speak to your overall technology status and provide advice on future decisions.
What is a Virtual CIO?
A virtual CIO is essentially a CIO who works for you part-time. They work for an IT outsourcing company and often work with a number of clients. However, that doesn’t mean you’re not going to get “real” CIO advice or experience. These virtual CIOs have very impressive resumes, and they’re fully devoted to helping each client with their IT needs.
If you were going to hire a CIO, you would be limited to those who lived in your area or were willing to relocate. A virtual CIO, on the other hand, can be located anywhere. They’re used to working with clients via videoconferencing, email, and other communication methods. Because they’re virtual, you can partner with any of these professionals. You’re not limited to a geographic region, so you can find a CIO that understands your industry and your unique needs.
The virtual CIO you select will bring high-level experience to your company. They fully understand what IT entails and are able to view the larger picture when it comes to how IT fits into your company. They understand IT budgeting, security, disaster recovery, and much more.
They Save You Money
If you hire your own CIO, you’ll need to be ready to pay them a substantial salary. According to Salary.com, CIOs make anywhere from $195,000 to $410,000. The median salary is just over $290,000. If you’re a SMB, you likely can’t afford that. If you’re a brand-new business, that could be more than your profits for the year. That’s not even the entire cost of a CIO, either. You have to pay for their benefits as well as for the costs associated with hiring and interviewing candidates. In some cases, CIO candidates may want equity in the company, too. Then there are overhead costs such as providing computer equipment, office furniture, and other items.
Outsourcing avoids all of these costs. You simply pay the monthly fee for your virtual CIO. There are no hidden costs or extra fees. You negotiate how much time you’ll need with the CIO every month and pay based off of that. It’s very straightforward and designed to provide you with the CIO services that fit your needs and budget.
A Virtual CIO Has More Diverse Experience than a Traditional CIO
Some business owners are hesitant to hire a virtual CIO because these professionals work for multiple companies at once. They’re concerned that their CIO won’t have time for them. However, virtual CIOs do carefully manage their time, and they don’t take on more clients than they can assist.
Working with multiple clients is actually beneficial for you, too. A traditional CIO may have worked for the same company for years or may have spent their entire career in the same industry. A virtual CIO may have worked with dozens of companies in a range of industries. This means they have an idea of how IT works in different settings. They may have an idea for your company that completely changes how you do IT that you would never have heard because the CIO picked it up by helping a company in a very different niche.
You Get an Outside Point of View
Virtual CIOs aren’t immersed in your company culture or mindset every day. This gives them something of an outside point of view, even if they’ve worked for you for years. They’re able to look at your company in an objective, neutral manner. This allows them to more easily see where your problems are or note areas where you’re not as efficient as you could be. They may be able to make changes to your IT infrastructure that an in-house CIO might never consider.
With an objective point of view, you may be able to quickly find solutions or improve areas of your business your own internal team may miss. Take advantage of this perspective, especially early on when your virtual CIO truly has an outsider’s point of view, to learn how other people see your business policies and processes.
Think to the Future
Without a virtual CIO, you may find that your IT infrastructure isn’t really growing. Your IT team is handling the daily tasks associated with keeping your IT functioning, but they may not have the overall view needed to know how to grow or develop your infrastructure long-term. A virtual CIO has that point of view, plus they have the knowledge and experience needed to know when and how to expand. They will be able to pinpoint what hardware and software needs to be upgraded, how to improve security to meet future needs, and how to scale your network. In this regard, bringing in a virtual CIO is investing in your company’s future.
They Integrate Seamlessly with Your Team
Some business owners do worry that a virtual CIO won’t truly feel like a part of their team. They’re on the outside, so surely they won’t be as integrated into your business as an internal CIO would be, right? That’s not typically the case. Most virtual CIOs are ready to learn about your business and fully connect with you and your team. They may not be a full-time employee, but they are still a part of your company. They want to see you succeed and grow, and they will do their best to help you achieve your goals.
With more and more companies going fully or partially remote, your virtual CIO may not be the only person communicating via video conference. If you’re a remote company, you may not see any difference between having an internal CIO and working with a virtual one. If you’re still an in-person office, you may even find that working with a virtual CIO changes your mind about remote work.
You Receive All the IT Assistance You Need
Bringing in a virtual CIO will help you with the high-level decisions and other aspects of your technology, but they typically don’t get into the actual software or handle troubleshooting. They provide your overall view of your infrastructure while the rest of your IT team takes care of the small details.
Hiring a virtual CIO takes care of the big picture, but what about your daily IT needs? If you’re a small business, you may not have much IT infrastructure, which means hiring a full IT team may not be the right move. They may end up spending much of their day waiting for work or creating tasks for themselves because they don’t have anything to do. Meanwhile, you’re spending a lot of money on this team.
Fortunately, you can outsource your IT needs, too. While having one or two IT experts in-house on a daily basis can be very helpful, you may not need more than that. By outsourcing your IT services, you’ll gain access to a variety of experts for a set monthly fee. You’ll be able to bring in network support, website troubleshooting, and much more whenever you need it.
Wooden Spoon Provides Managed IT Services and More
Whether you need a virtual CIO or are simply looking for someone to handle your IT infrastructure and security, Wooden Spoon Managed IT Services is here for you. We assist clients with strategic planning, risk management, cost optimization, performance improvement, and much more. Our team is made up of professionals with a wide range of experience and knowledge that we’re ready to put to work for you. If you’re ready to outsource your IT, call Wooden Spoon today to discuss your needs and how we can help.