Great Chief Information Officers are invaluable resources for any organization. They are also expensive, and for good reason. It’s a high-profile job with a lot of responsibility. They create business value through technology and plan strategically for business growth. They ensure that the company’s technology systems and processes are aligned with business goals.
Some of the other critical items that a CIO is responsible for are security and risk management, customer service platforms, IT architecture, vendor negotiations, supplier management, budgets and more.
According to PC Magazine, small businesses with basic technology can temporarily survive on cloud-based tools and “gumption.” But, there comes a time when someone other than the CEO is needed to oversee long-term IT initiatives.
The key goal in every organization is not just surviving, but thriving. SMBs want to grow the business. A major tool for growing the company is the technology it utilizes. When an SMB does not invest in its technology correctly or sufficiently, it will likely lose customers and market share to competitors. It is the CIO’s job to make sure that doesn’t happen.
The Benefits of a CIO
While the Chief Information Officer has a very demanding job, it is important to have a highly skilled professional handling these responsibilities. With limited C-Level executive oversight, the SMB needs a reliable partner to count on to make informed decisions. The CIO has a thorough understanding of the needs of the business. This also lends itself to someone who is considered “centralized” across departments and company initiatives.
If your SMB is fragmented and departments do not collaborate, the CIO brings it all together, which in turn, lends itself to a better overall business strategy. A CIO’s strategy reaches across business goals and objectives as a company whole.
Chief Information Officers often have a long-standing history of professional excellence and with a large base salary, and, while they are critical to the success of an SMB, it can weigh heavily on the annual budget, not leaving room for other important items too, like lead generation, talent development/succession planning and sales initiatives.
The Case for a Fractional CIO
There comes a time when all growing companies should invest in a Chief Information Officer – so the leader can focus on their best and brightest use, as well as have an experience IT leader ensuring the organization reaps the rewards of growth-aligned technology.
When a small to mid-sized business is looking to get the benefits of a CIO without breaking the bank, outsourcing a “fractional” CIO (often called “vCIO”) can be a better option and more feasible.
The reasons for this are the same as for a full time CIO…
- Having a fractional CIO still means that your SMB can expect technology and innovations to align to business objectives and growth plans.
- A fractional CIO, just like a full time CIO, will build a strategic information technology
- They will oversee technology initiatives, vendor selection, technology adoption, including any needed internal training.
- They will oversee security and compliance and partner with risk management for the organization.
- They will plan for disaster and recovery, helping assess your business continuity plan.
- They will attend all important business meetings, as well as board meetings.
- They will also build and test the role of the potential future full-time CIO, once you have the scale to require (and better afford) that position.
… with one exception: You will not incur the risk, time and cost of a full-time hire. An additional benefit of a fractional CIO is that they often come with the technical and process support of the greater organization that provides your company with the service offering.
For many organizations, the fractional option could very well deliver the best return on investment, provide a perfect transitional solution, as well as better define the role as you grow to a place where a full time CIO makes sense financially.