In an age of digital transformation, elevated growth and extreme competition, many job roles are being virtualized. The vCIO job role is gaining traction as a cost-effective way to provide companies with the senior experience and expertise of an executive role. By virtualizing these positions, companies can access the skills they need without having to pay for a full-time employee.
What Is a vCIO?
A Virtual Chief Information Officer, or vCIO, is a person who collaborates with companies and provides strategic consulting services and cost analysis regarding their technology strategy as a third party, as opposed to an in-house CIO. Most vCIOs are hired through a reputable IT consulting service firm.
vCIOs assist companies in developing the blueprint for the firm’s IT strategic plan at an affordable cost. In recent years, many SMBs have realized that digital transformation is a necessary step for their company to remain competitive in the market but have budgetary concessions. This is where Managed Service Providers (MSP) can provide effective and affordable vCIO for implementing and maintaining IT solutions for small and medium businesses.
Does My Business Need a vCIO?
Regardless of what your business does, you use technology to manage everyday business operations. Every business has some sort of IT support, ranging from:
- Frantically phoning an old friend when in need
- Do it yourself… maybe not well, but it gets done
- Your employee that “wears many hats”
- Your internal team
- You outsource some aspects or all your IT services
No matter where you fall in the mix, businesses use MSPs to act as their virtual CIO to support their in-house CIOs and internal teams, or larger clients may hire a vCIO to assist in strategic technology planning. Virtual CIOs range from a one-time project to a long-term contract where you meet on an ongoing basis.
A few of the common ways Managed Service Providers deliver vCIO services are:
- Interim – Services to fill the gap while you search for a replacement
- Functional – Recurring time per week, month, or quarter
- Projects – Purposeful point-in-time service to deliver a strategic need
What Does a vCIO Do?
A vCIO will remotely oversee the technology needs of a company and provides budget-friendly leadership. In addition, they provide the following services:
- Technology Administration
- Cybersecurity Support
- Customized Strategic Initiatives
- Vendor Relationship Management
- Utilization Oversight & Evaluation
- Operational Insights & Improvements
- Compliance Management
- Reporting & Review
- Scalable Growth
10 Ways a Virtual CIO Can Provide Value:
- Ensure tech systems and procedures lead to outcomes in line with business goals.
- Monitor changes or advancements in technology to discover ways the company can gain competitive advantage.
- Analyze the costs, value and risks of information technology to advise management and suggest actions.
- Set objectives and strategies for the IT department.
- Establish IT policies, strategies, and standards. Including information risk management.
- Select and implement suitable technology to streamline all internal operations and help optimize their strategic benefits.
- Approve vendor negotiations and IT architecture.
- Develop and approve technology futures and budgets.
- Oversee the technological infrastructure (networks and computer systems) in the organization to ensure optimal performance.
- Direct and organize IT-related projects.
What Are the Key Advantages of a vCIO?
1.Proactive Guidance and Expertise
A good vCIO will work with you to understand your business goals and objectives, and then recommend the most effective technology solutions to help you achieve them. They can also provide invaluable support when it comes to planning and executing IT projects, ensuring that everything goes smoothly and on schedule. Having a vCIO can help prevent your business from becoming overwhelmed by its technology, and can ensure that you’re getting the most out of your technical investments.
Another benefit of having a vCIO is that they act as a single point of contact for all technology issues within your company. This means that you don’t have to waste time dealing with multiple vendors or tracking down the right person to help solve a problem.
2. Technical Reporting
A vCIO can help your organization with technical reporting. This involves compiling data and findings from various teams within the organization and presenting it in a way that is easy to understand for non-technical stakeholders. A vCIO will identify key performance indicators (KPIs) and present progress against them in a way that is relevant to your business.
This type of reporting is essential for understanding how your organization’s technology investments are contributing to overall business goals. It also helps to identify areas where further improvement or investment is required.
The vCIO should be able to provide you with weekly, monthly, or quarterly reports on the following:
- Progress of your overall digital transformation
- Compliance needs and updates
- IT project updates and expenditures
- Technology support metrics and satisfaction scores
- Any completed or in-flight projects
- The health of the relationship and partnership alignment
These reports should help you stay up-to-date on the progress of your digital transformation, compliance needs, IT projects, and technology support. They will also help you assess the health of the relationship between your business and the technology team powering your digital transformation.
3. Cost-Effective Solution
Having a vCIO can be a cost-effective solution for your business. Rather than hiring additional in-house staff to manage your technology needs, a vCIO can provide all the expertise and support you need for a fraction of the price. They also help by consolidating multiple subscriptions, managed service businesses can often enjoy cost savings of up to 30%. Additionally, a vCIO can help reduce wastage and improve procurement processes, saving even more money in the long run. This makes them an affordable option for businesses of all sizes.
Three ways you save money with a vCIO:
- Save the cost of hiring and retaining hard-to-find, expensive talent
- Optimize the costs of your current IT environment
- Keep your business secure – most SMBs wildly underestimate the cost of a data breach
4. Defines IT Objectives and Plans the Technology Roadmap
A vCIO should also be able to help define IT objectives and develop a technology roadmap for the organization. By doing this, they can ensure that the business is making the most of its technology investments and that these investments are aligned with the organization’s goals. Your vCIO can help improve your IT infrastructure, security, data backup and recovery, and provide cloud expertise.
The vCIO should be able to answer questions about your technology suite involving topics such as:
- Intellectual property protection
- Cloud services
- Disaster recovery
- Security posture
- Employee onboarding
- Cybersecurity training
How to Choose a vCIO?
When choosing a vCIO it is important to understand that the role of a vCIO can vary significantly between managed service providers. Many MSPs offer vCIO services, but the quality of support they provide can create complications for a business looking for comprehensive support. When vetting a vCIO, make sure that the MSP can provide more than an inflated sales rep that will try to upsell you on more services. Make sure that your relationship with your vCIO provides the benefits you need to grow your business and that they have expertise in your industry.
A few questions you should know before signing a contract:
- Do they have a deep understanding of how to run a successful IT department?
- Can they articulate a strategic vision and direction for your company’s IT operations?
- Do they have extensive experience working with and managing various types of technology solutions?
- Do they understand your specific business model, unique use cases and follow industry best practices?
Download our comprehensive checklist for all 13 questions you need to be asking before signing a contract with an MSP.
How Much Does a Virtual CIO Cost?
It is unlikely that small to medium size businesses can afford a full-time CIO because they are very expensive. According to Salary.com, the average Chief Information Technology Officer salary in Chicago, IL is $316,504, but can range anywhere between $212,210 and $446,162. These figures do not include overhead on top of compensation in the form of benefits, bonuses and profit sharing.
While pricing structures vary, a vCIO is generally billed either on an hourly rate or a flat fee, with the latter working as a subscription model where the client pays monthly. An hourly rate for a vCIO can vary drastically based on your location, industry, and a few other factors, but generally costs can start around $200 an hour and go up from there.
vCIO services offered in a subscription plan (monthly recurring) are even harder to estimate, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $2k to $10k a month, depending on the size of your organization, the services you want, and other factors that play a role.
If you are a start-up or your business is quickly growing, you are going to need to do a lot of technology planning to make sure your IT infrastructure can scale. Most small to mid-sized businesses (SMB) have at least one person, if not a whole team, who is experienced with their company’s IT systems, but it’s likely no one even knows where to begin when it comes to devising a long-term technology plan.
Why Choose PSM?
Aside from quick, convenient, and scalable services to network resources, applications, and IT services, PSM Partners vCIO services also offers technological insights that are specifically tailored to fit your business goals and objectives. Our vCIOs are award-winning professional consultants with extensive experience in IT management, cybersecurity, cloud infrastructure and management, and diverse IT ecosystems.
Our approach starts with understanding your business strategy and key objectives. Through that understanding, PSM’s CIOs can align your technology to those objectives, driving business growth and supporting the organization. Our team can produce short and long-term technology roadmaps, along with providing the needed leadership to execute that delivery for your organization. Our vCIOs excel at proactively assessing the everyday business operations and providing recommendations to ensure maximum productivity.
Dependable and scalable IT is essential for the success of the business. Ready to get started? Contact us!