5 benefits of hiring a vCIO [Updated]

If you own a business, you probably have multiple plans in place to reach your long-term goals. While your business may not have the hefty IT budget of your large corporate counterparts and their full-time CIOs, you still should not miss out on one of the most important plans of all—an IT success plan.

If your IT department is merely focused on running your existing systems without a strategy for aligning technology’s role with the big picture for company growth, it may be time to consider a vCIO (or Virtual CIO). This role may also be called "fractional CIO."


What is a vCIO?

A vCIO is an expert technology advisor businesses turn to when they don't have the means or demand for a full-time in-house CIO. Some vCIOs offer their services remotely, but most companies end up partnering with a local vCIO. Although this individual is a consultant, rather than a full-time employee, he or she performs the same duties as a conventional CIO.

What value does a vCIO provide?

Investing in your company's technology is only part of the equation. You also want to know you're investing in the right solutions.

Prioritizing the many layers of security and IT for your business can be a full-time job. Satisfying each layer requires wading through an endless sea of options which can leave you unsure you've made the right choices.

Every business has unique needs, budget, and risk profile, so your business can't hope for a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead it needs a custom-tailored plan to aid in everyday operations and growth goals.

A vCIO is the link between your company's technology and its overall business strategy. You rely on a financial adviser for financial advice—a vCIO should be your go-to technical contact as well as a business partner who understands how technology fulfills your company's needs.

Hiring a vCIO is like gaining another executive without gaining the executive salary.

A vCIO's services include:

  • Aligning business objectives with IT systems.

  • Crafting IT and security strategies.

  • Analyzing business processes to drive changes in a company's technology. 


5 benefits of hiring a vCIO

There are 5 primary benefits a vCIO can offer your organization.


1. Flexible IT solutions

Unlike hiring a full-time, in-house CIO, contracting your IT needs to a vCIO gives you flexible service options so you receive as much or as little assistance as your company needs. As a third party, a vCIO will likely provide greater objectivity, allowing the consultant to present you with a full array of IT solutions without the pressure of internal politics.


2. The resources of a full-time CIO (without the cost)

Even though vCIOs are not a full-time employees, they have the means, connections, and know-how that make it possible to solve IT problems as they arise. Also, because vCIOs understand how your company operates, they can connect you with reliable experts who can help even if they don't possess the exact resources possible to solve a specific problem.


3. Cost reduction

A vCIO helps maximize the return on your IT investment by optimizing your technology to streamline business processes, ensuring your team has the right tools for the job, and making sure that you don’t overspend. 


4. Clear communication

Managing IT risk is vital to protect your company's mission-critical data. You must ensure mission-critical data is safe from a cyber attack or natural disaster. Unlike a day-to-day technician who may bog you down with complicated “tech speak”, a vCIO is able to convey the legitimate value of IT projects and their associated risks in plain language without sugarcoating benefits or glossing over the technical details.


5. Comprehensive consulting

Modern IT systems are complex, multi-faceted beasts that require a wide variety of expertise in order to properly manage. One of the great things about a vCIO is that you can often to turn to these individuals for guidance through a variety of problems. A well-qualified vCIO will be able to provide guidance on data backup and disaster recovery plans, secure cloud services, security, and even hardware/software procurement.


Other considerations

Though not always the case, you can sometimes find vCIOs with special knowledge of your industry's IT support needs. This can be especially helpful to businesses that are subject to intense regulatory scrutiny. For example, if you run a hospital, consider hiring a vCIO with experience in healthcare tech support.

Businesspeople are busy. Everyone is wearing several different hats. Everyone gets so caught up in putting out fires, meaning long-term strategy can become an afterthought. A vCIO can be valuable in such situations because they can shoulder some of that responsibility.