Why Should I use a Fractional CIO and What is One?

Deciding on a CIO

Smaller businesses typically only have someone at the top, usually the business owner/CEO. That person is responsible for many of the other executive functions of the organization, such as Human Resources, Finance, Technology, and Sales.

When your business hits a specific size, balancing these roles can be challenging while still running the company. Companies will hire subject matter experts to oversee each of these roles when this happens. Usually, the workload is more than the owner/CEO can handle, but not enough to justify one full-time.

As an organization grows, a ‘fractional’ CIO becomes beneficial. In a ‘fractional’ or ‘virtual’ role, a senior executive supports multiple organizations for a few hours a week. You only pay for a fraction of the executive’s time and pay a fraction of the cost. You may hire a fractional CFO (Chief Financial Officer) to lead bookkeeping, a PEO (professional employment organization) to oversee HR, or a fractional CIO (Chief Information Officer) to manage IT.

The cost of a full-time CIO usually doesn’t make sense for a smaller organization as they start at $180K a year plus benefits. Still, with this massive digital transformation in the marketplace around us, almost every intelligent business owner knows they are in the IT industry no matter what their business is. That technology plays an essential role in staying ahead of your competition and staying profitable. Hiring a fractional CIO can be a great solution.

Why should you hire a fractional CIO?

There are many reasons why a fractional CIO makes sense for business owners.

The biggest reason to hire a fractional CIO is to help you build a roadmap to the future. As your business starts growing, it gets more and more challenging to keep on top of how your sales, administration, and finance departments are all functioning. An excellent fractional CIO will keep IT systems and processes in alignment to help you facilitate growth.

Perhaps more importantly, the fractional CIO will bring systems together to keep the significant functions of your business working together. For example, a sound employee onboarding system helps HR give new employees a great first experience with your company. An excellent off-boarding system will keep your company data safe when employees exit the business.

An excellent fractional CIO will also stay tuned in to what is happening in your industry related to Technology and Infrastructure. Most manufacturers know they need to be taking advantage of tools like ML (Machine Learning), AI (Artificial Intelligence), and IoT (the internet of things), but they don’t know where to start or how it will impact their business.

Healthcare and finance leaders know that security and compliance are critical pieces of their business, but with so many regulations and tools to choose from, most don’t know the best way to write or review a request for proposal to solve their company challenges.

An excellent fractional CIO can manage both of these projects and would likely have the contacts within the industry to assist with any areas where they may be deficient from a knowledge standpoint.

Your fractional CIO is not Your IT Support.

A fractional CIO cannot play the role of IT technical support. That role is best left to your in-house IT or your outsourced IT MSP provider. In some situations, your outsourced IT provider may have a team of fractional CIOs who play this role; in these cases, they should be well seasoned and should not be the same resource to deliver technical support.

There are numerous reasons for this, but the main reason is that it is impossible to do both roles exceptionally well at the same time. A fractional CIO should only focus on your organization’s big picture of technology. An IT support organization, such as an MSP, should be focused on the day-to-day of making sure your infrastructure is working correctly.

How much does a fractional CIO cost?

The amount you expect to pay your fractional CIO will vary based on your needs and geography. Some companies charge by the hour, and in that type of engagement, you can expect to pay between $175-250 per hour.

Others may also charge a flat fee per month with a cap on the number of hours they will work on your account. (If you go this route, ask for exact time accounting with each invoice). Finally, other organizations (like ours) include fractional CIO services in ‘All You Can Eat’ style managed IT service plans.

Access to a senior-level resource who can help you plan and manage your technology doesn’t have to be out of reach for small and mid-size businesses. Hiring a fractional CIO can be the key to unlocking a digital transformation without breaking the bank.

At JAYCO CIO Services, we don’t do anything other than CIO services. Right now, we are offering 50% off our CIO Assessment. The assessment is an excellent way to get to know us. We will work with your executive officers, stakeholders, and IT team to show you where you are deficient and supply you with a report to increase your understanding of where you need help.

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