Virtual CIO Service

Many small businesses today operate with a bare-bones IT staff—or even none at all. When internal or outsourced IT personnel ARE on-site, they are typically not engaged in Chief Information Office (CIO) -level activities. Instead, they spend their time managing day-to-day technology needs, such as setting up new machines or servers, addressing connectivity issues, monitoring systems, and troubleshooting and resolving problems that hamper employee productivity. While this type of expert IT support is no doubt invaluable, there is often little to no time available for high-level technological, strategic, and budgetary planning.

Enter the virtual CIO service. Small businesses who can’t afford or justify the cost of a full-time Chief Information Officer often find that working with a virtual CIO service allows them to reap all of the benefits of a CIO at just a tiny fraction of the cost of a full-time executive. Recognizing the value these IT experts provide, more and more outsourced IT organizations are offering a virtual CIO service to their clients.

So, what is a virtual CIO consultant?

Well, first, a virtual CIO isn’t an actual person so much as a package of services provided by outsourced business IT services providers. Together, the expertly delivered services provide the same type of support, oversight, and strategic guidance that a CIO, technology consultant, and/or CTO (chief technology officer) would provide. However, for the purposes of this post, we’ll refer to the virtual suite of CIO services simply as “the virtual CIO.”

What exactly does a virtual CIO do?

To get an idea, picture your company’s ideal executive roundtable discussion. Who would be at the table? The CEO, of course, as well as the heads of sales, marketing, HR, and operations. These people need to be present in order to discuss any sort of plan for the company’s future. And what do every one of these executives—not to mention their departments—generally rely on to get their jobs done? Information technology, of course.

So, it makes sense, then, to have the head of IT at the table as well. Every position in the organization—no matter how large or small—probably depends on technology in one way or another. Is there a stubborn, ongoing issue with the company website? A CIO can advise as to whether it’s time to switch to a new web-hosting platform. Perhaps, it’s time to invest in a bigger server. A CIO likely has strong opinions about that as well. Are there concerns with how employees are logging on to the network, using email, or surfing the ‘net? A CIO can help create an updated IT acceptable-use agreement. Should the company invest in new computers, employee cell phones, or new CRM software first? A CIO can help with these decisions and much more.  In essence, the CIO role is forward looking, helping a company to recognize opportunities where technology can positively impact the company’s bottom line.

How does a virtual CIO service help companies with strategy?

Armed with technical expertise and granted an in-depth understanding of your company’s mission, goals, long-term plan, and budget, a virtual CIO consultant can offer strategy-driven advice and guidance as well as help you make short- and long-term technology budgeting decisions. With a virtual CIO service, your company goes from making reactive technology decisions (as in, “Oh, no—we never did decide whether we needed disaster recovery services and now our server is down indefinitely!”) to planning proactively to better address what technology-related changes, updates, and investments are needed to ensure a company can maximize its productivity and meet its overarching business goals.

What about budget planning?

Importantly, a virtual CIO service also weighs in during budget-planning sessions, and helps to educate the company regarding technology investments and what a realistic technology budget might look like for your company. Often, outsourced IT services providers caution against “spending too little on your IT services.” In other words, allocating more funds proactively to the IT budget can often yield big dividends in terms of employee productivity and disaster avoidance. However, at the same time, a good virtual CIO also focuses on making budgetary recommendations conservatively and with the individual needs of the organization in mind.

Want to learn more about how a virtual CIO service can improve productivity and enhance the quality of strategic planning, ultimately bolstering the success of your organization? Call Real IT Care today and learn more about what your company can gain by inviting us to your planning table. We’ll be happy to answer all your questions.