Afidence offers an Outsourced Chief Information Officer (CIO) program which can be a game-changer for your small to medium business (SMB). By having a part-time CIO on your executive staff, you can gain the technological vision to move your organization forward without the costs and support issues that a full-time CIO would require.

The role of a CIO is to provide a long-term strategic vision for the company’s data and computing resources, to understand the interactions between technical elements of your IT systems, and to ensure you are getting maximum value from your IT investments. Much like the Chief Executive Officer’s (CEO) role is to manage the overall business strategy for the company, the CIO ensures the IT resources are properly aligned with your organization’s strategic vision to keep the company moving forward.

Why not Hire a Full-Time CIO?

Three major reasons come to mind. First, a full-time CIO requires a full-time salary and benefits. Second, they may not find enough daily work in an SMB environment to make the investment in their employment worthwhile. Lastly, SMB’s rarely have enough technology challenges to warrant an investment in a full-time CIO.

As such, most SMB’s will make do with one or more skilled IT employees and rely on them for all their IT needs. This approach is dangerous, though, because it can lead to costly mistakes in software development or contracts spiraling out of control because the IT department cannot see the proverbial forest through the trees. Also, there are some IT staffers who are exceptional at daily technical work, or project level implementations, but are not equipped to make strategic decisions and decide the feasibility of projects with the long-term in mind.

Your Business and a Part-Time CIO 

Whether your small to medium business (SMB) has a trusted IT support staff, either internal or outsourced, some part of your internal staff is likely to oversee the handling of your IT strategy. But one of the pitfalls of being a small to medium business is that you are

1.  Very busy handling a lot of different items since every staffer needs to be flexible;

2.  Consistently working with issues that relate to your clientele and your internal work.

Having time to look beyond today’s—or even next week’s—issues can be exceptionally difficult. You’ve probably gained some value from having a good IT contractor to help with larger projects, such as server upgrades or data center migrations, and wished for a way to continue to have that insight and support on a regular basis.

The Benefits

This gap between your company’s needs and resources is where a good part-time CIO will benefit your business. They can identify and reduce wasteful spending, which guarantees your IT spend receives maximum value. By identifying technologies that are becoming obsolete, unfashionable or a dead-end in terms of development resources, they can help you become the best in your industry. Part-time CIO’s can help identify technologies that open new revenue streams before your customers ask for it, create innovative product designs, and negotiate IT contracts to keep your support channels lean and productive. If you are developing software for resale, they can help make sure your internal production policies are strong and help keep your development teams accountable when it comes to security and quality control. They can also aid your executive staff as you work to understand the ramifications of taking on development for different computing platforms, including the necessary long-term manpower and financial costs.

Part-time CIO’s can help identify technologies that open new revenue streams before your customers ask for it, create innovative product designs, and negotiate IT contracts to keep your support channels lean and productive.
— Matt Hoffman

The right part-time CIO is a cost-effective resource because they are present enough to know your business well and assist your executive staff in the decision-making process. They will also ensure that large IT investments make sense in the long run and see opportunities to get ahead of the competition by doing a new thing better or earlier. Choosing the right track from the beginning is critical to separating your business from the competition in an environment of small margins. A great part-time CIO can assist your business in succeeding in your industry by elevating your organization’s technological vision in the most cost-effective way possible.

Working Together

Employing a part-time CIO is similar having a legal firm on a retainer. You can use their skills as needed to make sure you are on the right path and utilize them more than usual for a large project or contract negotiation. A part-time CIO will manage your project managers’ efforts, keeping them aligned with your business goals will help keep your company in harmony with success.  One thing to keep in mind is that a part-time CIO will only be as successful as their relationship with your company allows. Therefore, it is critical to hire someone from a trustworthy organization and allow them to learn about your business so that they can be as effective as possible. A great part-time CIO will work to learn the culture, strengths, and goals of your company as you work to set them up for success.

Matt Hoffman

Sr. IT Consultant | Afidence