Growth, governance, business alignment: Is it time to ‘step up’ to a virtual CIO? 

Growth, governance, business alignment: Is it time to ‘step up’ to a virtual CIO? 

Growing small businesses typically get frustrated at their incumbent IT provider when headcount increases. Why? The IT managed service provider is used to heading off issues, responding to tickets and maintaining infrastructure, but they’re unlikely to cover the overarching technology strategy that aligns to business objectives – or be proactively looking for ways to use technology to improve the bottom line. 

Clients commonly tell us that they need someone to adopt a leadership position – typically board-level – to take a longer-term view of planning, budgeting and overall IT strategy. 

Then there are governance issues. IT MSPs can be brilliant at resolving cybersecurity issues, restoring backups or monitoring your estate, but they might not be able to go further in communicating about risk. 

That’s where a virtual CIO – an outsourced version of the traditional CIO leadership role – makes all the difference. 

What does a virtual CIO do in practice? 

A virtual CIO works as part of the client’s team to advise on the overall IT strategy and performance, just as a conventional CIO would. That includes steering the overall tech strategy, developing your IT budget, analysing operations and identifying opportunities for IT to make a difference, and managing IT change. 

It’s board-level because CIOs are key in determining overall IT strategy and reporting on the IT and information security position as part of the organisation’s wider governance. They also play a crucial role in IT asset planning, as well as developing long-term strategic goals and opportunities to drive innovation and business revenue through technology. 

It’s a defined role in comparison to other technical advisory services because a vCIO can take a more strategic view on business and IT alignment, rather than just managing technology service delivery. That’s a distinction a lot of IT managed service providers just don’t ‘get’, which can leave clients feeling let down or without a strong governance force at the helm of their IT. 

Do you really need a virtual CIO? – a checklist 

If you answer ‘yes’ to the following, it might be time to take on a virtual CIO:

  • Do you often feel ‘abandoned’ by your IT MSP because they fix issues rather than offering a strategic view? 
  • Do you need someone who is able to advise on emerging technology and look for ways to deploy it to meet the needs of your business as you grow? 
  • Are you trying to manage IT projects, budgets and suppliers off the side of your desk? 
  • Are you regulated, or do you have due diligence requests from investors or other stakeholders? Do you need to demonstrate certain standards of data security and handling?
  • Do you rarely, if ever, hear from your MSP, except for contract renewal or when you need to raise a support ticket?
  • Does your board lack a senior expert on cybersecurity, IT risk or digital transformation?
  • Do you lack an objective, senior view on the opportunities and challenges facing IT in your organisation?

We act as a virtual CIO to a number of clients, going well beyond the remit of an MSP to offer a strategic, bird’s-eye view on IT to meet the needs of the organisation, now and for the future. Contact us to start a conversation.