Small and medium-sized companies are gaining tremendous value with a fractional CIO.
As the demand for experienced, executive-level technology personnel increases, the choice for companies to contract with a virtual fractional CIO instead of hiring full-time individuals is a great option. These executives can provide tremendous value to any company or organization.
There are several reasons why companies should consider using a fractional CIO. These might include leveraging future technology for growth, mergers and acquisitions, regulatory and compliance changes, reducing costs, stabilizing IT environments, mitigating risks, and other business reasons. A fractional CIO can help determine the organization’s present state, identify gaps, and develop a roadmap to meet future goals.
Before you contract with a fractional CIO, you need to clarify roles, responsibilities, and objectives, as well as determine how your organization can benefit from this leader.
What Is a Fractional CIO?
A fractional Chief Information Officer is a senior leader who provides ongoing strategic guidance and leads technology development and optimization, offers thought leadership, and offers other tailored services aligned to your business’s needs. They help optimize your IT budget while meeting business objectives and helping your company realize its essential performance indicators.
Additionally, this leader offers a unique outside perspective, offering best practices in all aspects of technology, including emerging technology, regulations, and potential security threats for your industry. The fractional CIO can often bring a broader perspective and experience levels, complementing a company’s internal capabilities.
When Should My Company Consider a Fractional CIO?
Today’s business environment is changing rapidly, increasing reliance on new technology. Companies will end up at a competitive disadvantage without a dedicated IT professional to help navigate technology challenges.
Even with an organization’s dedicated IT staff, they may have limited capacity or capability to develop a strategy and set the IT agenda. When your company faces growth opportunities with limited systems capabilities or ability, a fractional CIO will help you identify these gaps and develop a plan to remediate them.
There are many reasons companies may consider bringing on a fractional CIO:
- The unknowing changes in an emerging technology: Competitive pressures, external threats, changes in global and social forces, market opportunities play into technology positioning for your company. Your company will have an advantage with an experienced fractional CIO on your team to call upon them during times of crisis.
- A gap in IT expertise: Whether it’s from the speed of a rapidly changing technology environment outpacing employee skills development, a lack of training programs, or professionals who cannot keep up with rapid changes, the outlay of this gap in your IT expertise can be extremely high. The number one impingement of skills gaps is increasing employee stress. Other costs include poor quality work, decreased ability to meet IT objectives, increased project duration, and a decline in innovation.
- Lack of strategic visioning and leadership: A practical CIO is a change agent. This executive remains close to innovation in today’s business environment, using their experience and expertise as a foundation for decision making. In the small to medium market space, organizations often have a talented and capable IT team to execute and manage projects effectively. A fractional CIO will ask penetrating questions to develop an effective strategy and plan to move forward. An internal IT team often lacks the experience to create a strategic roadmap that will lead to growth and value for the organization. A fractional CIO will increase your internal IT team’s effectiveness.
- Concerns about security posture and vulnerabilities: Security attacks are increasing rapidly, and cybercrime has become more sophisticated. A seasoned executive helps to identify and build a robust cybersecurity program. Over the past year, with employees working from home, many companies experienced increased cyber-security incidents just through remote-working alone. Because of this, it has caused security to become the top priority for technology investments, and for the first time in history, cyber-security expertise has become the most in-demand skill-set.
- Budgetary constraints: CIOs in Central Florida can start at $180K a year plus benefits, so a fractional CIO is a good solution for companies with smaller budgets, where they, maybe, can’t afford a full-time CIO, and chances are you don’t need them there full time. The company reaps the benefits of a high-level executive leader without the full-time commitment or costs. A fractional CIO can optimize your IT spending and ensure your company gets the maximum return on your technology investments.
What Can My Company Expect from a Fractional CIO?
A fractional CIO will help your company with all of the following:
- Using technology best practices for your industry
- Offering advice and direction on day-to-day and future projects
- Leveraging current and future technology to improve your company’s performance
- Provide a strategic IT vision and navigation while capitalizing on internal experience and knowledge and bridging gaps
- Leading, mentoring, and developing IT within your company.
This executive also can mitigate risks business-wide by highlighting areas of vulnerability and implementing plans to reduce them. They will evaluate your company’s IT capabilities and create an effective insourcing and outsourcing strategy.
Companies can expect everything they would from a full-time or interim CIO, only on a part-time basis:
- An experienced and objective current state assessment
- Collaboration and alignment with senior leadership
- Document and IT strategy and vision for the future
- An IT roadmap based on your company’s resources and capacity for change
- IT leadership and technology navigation
- A structured budget and forecasting analyses
- An executive project portfolio dashboard
- Team coaching, development, and mentoring.
The decision to contract with a fractional CIO encompasses several factors. But if, after careful consideration, you find you need one, bringing on a fractional CIO can be the best decision to ensure your company can survive and thrive.