IT budget planning for 2023 is underway. But many business leaders are having a bit of a math problem! Hiring much-needed additional headcount is not on the table for many organizations due to a projected shortfall in funding. But there ARE ways to help solve this dilemma.
For most companies, IT budgets for next year are not keeping up with inflation. Despite this, C-level executives still need to identify the best opportunities and strategies to drive growth, streamline processes, and keep the company safe and secure. A tall order when dealing with a shrinking budget!
One of the many ways business leaders are dealing with this dilemma is by outsourcing key IT functions that they can’t hire for in-house. This includes getting help when it comes to strategic advice, including budgeting, planning and prioritization, which often save money and headaches in the long run.
For organizations looking for an experienced resource to help with strategic planning, working with a VCIO (virtual Chief Information Officer) is a cost-effective solution that can produce significant benefits for the business.
As a client recently told us…"Working with a vCIO has been a game changer for us."
How Does a vCIO Partnership Work?
A vCIO is an experienced IT professional who works contractually and operates as a company's fractional or part-time CIO. In this role, they perform the same functions as an in-house resource, but at an hourly or monthly rate.
Seasoned Managed Service Providers (MSPs) usually offer vCIO services as an add-on to an existing contract. This service is a budget-friendly way for organizations to draw on the strategic expertise and experience of a vCIO without the expense.
3 Ways Working With A vCIO Produces Game-Changing Results
1. A vCIO brings new insights to the executive's table and helps drive innovation at an affordable price.
Every business reaches a point where it needs to make fundamental changes to move forward: new tools and equipment are required, cybersecurity needs upgrades, or systems need updating.
Unfortunately, this usually means the company has reached a "tension point" where executive-level IT expertise and support are necessary, but executive compensation resources are unavailable (or too costly.)
At this point, a vCIO can add real value to the business's bottom line. As professionals with years of experience and expertise, they offer clients a fresh perspective on their IT landscape and work to find and propose the best technology solutions for achieving the company's goals.
2. A vCIO acts as a strategic expert and advocate for their clients, building the ideal IT strategy, roadmap, and budget to meet their business and technology goals.
The role of a vCIO is that of an advocate in a relationship built on trust and transparency. As the go-to resource for business and technology planning for their clients, a vCIO prioritizes getting to know the client and their business goals from the first meeting.
The process begins with short “getting-to-know-you” calls with new clients to map out a beginning strategy, timeline, and budget for reaching their stated goals. Together, they work through questions like:
- What are your business goals for the next 1, 3, or 5 years?
- What problems need to be solved right now?
- Are your goals within your company's means?
- Have you tightened your security posture against cyberattacks and ransomware and handled your cyber insurance?
- Depending on the industry the client and VCIO will analyze the compliance standards and collaborate with your project management team to develop the foundational components of a sound IT security plan.
Once they have crafted a detailed plan and timeline for meeting these goals, the vCIO meets regularly (monthly/quarterly/annually) with the client's management team.
These meetings are an opportunity to keep the executive team involved and updated on the status of all projects and goals and to discuss possible changes to existing plans. They also keep management informed on any significant technological issues or incidents.
3. VCIOs oversee the management of IT projects, people, and relationships.
Working with a vCIO is usually a long-term and collaborative relationship. VCIO’s oversee the management of existing and new IT projects and the teams working on those initiatives.
They also manage vendor relationships within the technology stack, keeping business owners and executives informed on vendor performance and recommending upgrades or changes if needed. Handing off these management tasks frees up the executive and teams from needing to micromanage the process.
Case Study: A vCIO Relationship Built on Trust & Expertise
Like thousands of other businesses across the globe, a Washington, DC-based trade association found itself scrambling when the pandemic hit in 2020.
As an organization that worked on-premise with desktop computers, supporting employees working from home was an enormous challenge. It was clear that systems and procedures required updating in order to support this new way of working.
So, in late 2021, BOMA International hired a new executive, Mary Lue Peck, who was tasked with overseeing the company's tech infrastructure and operations.
Very quickly, Mary Lue discovered that existing technology needed major updates. For starters, the company was operating with on-premise servers and didn't have a cloud presence for remote workers or emergencies.
When the existing IT manager was not forthcoming with security or disaster recovery plans, she decided to interview several managed service providers, including Ntiva. As a result, the company became a client and began working with Nitva vCIO Dan Salzillo in the spring of 2022.
"I know enough about IT to ask questions, but I'm not sure about hardware, network, and security. Our existing IT manager did not share this info with me, but Dan has been able to come in and get to the nitty-gritty."
When the client and Dan began working together, they started with weekly meetings to lay the groundwork for new projects and plans. These meetings included discussions concerning fundamental issues like policies and procedures.
For example, did they need a new mobile device policy to protect themselves from liability? What types of emergency policies were already in place?
After working on baseline issues, a multi-year plan was designed to modernize the organization's technology and infrastructure. These projects include rolling out new laptops to all employees, implementing Microsoft Teams, and migrating to SharePoint.
Even better, when the plan was presented to the executive board by Dan, they budgeted and approved the project. Mary Lue and team were thrilled to have a tech stack, roadmap and philosophy in place for 2023!
"Working with Dan has been a game changer, and he's brought in a lot of insights with in-depth knowledge. In addition to that, he was able to speak in front of the executive team, and they're like, "Wow. He's really good." He was able to clearly explain what was needed and why without being condescending. So I'm going to keep putting him in front of them a little bit, which will help us advance our technology needs."
How Much Does Having a vCIO Cost?
A vCIO partnership is an excellent way for a small-to-medium-sized business to obtain strategic support without paying a huge in-house salary.
The compensation package for a CIO at a large company can easily go up to $500k, while dipping down to about $150k for a less experienced candidate for smaller organizations. Of course, there is often overhead on top of salary, not to mention the difficulty in hiring and retaining these skilled resources.
A vCIO subscription service (monthly recurring) can range from $2k to $10k a month, depending on the size of your organization, the amount of hours you want, types of services and other factors.
Even if you have an in-house IT team, it’s likely that no one even knows where to begin concerning creating a long-term technology plan.
Not only does a vCIO save on costs of hiring a full-time CIO, they also help to save on future expenses such as systems breaking down and overwhelming your current IT staff, or the cost of a breach or other cyber event due to lack of oversight and maintenance.
If you’re looking for a qualified resource to help your company with a strategic roadmap, develop future strategies and help deploy complex IT projects, you should consider evaluating the services of a vCIO!
Want to learn more about IT Consulting Services for your business? See Ntiva’s IT Consulting Services.