Published on:

24 March 2020


Rachael Adams

Virtual CIO Services: How they save business costs (while increasing IT strategy)

To say these are uncertain times would be a colossal understatement. With nations in lockdown and ten percent wiped off the ASX in a day, now is the time for steady, experienced leadership. Unsurprisingly, organisations are seeking savings and efficiencies, and those unhappy with IT investment must urgently rectify the situation. At times like this, businesses are more dependent than ever on technology to allow them to navigate through volatile waters. But what if technology isn’t well aligned with the organisation’s strategic goals?

Focusing on the Day-to-Day

Most companies have internal IT or outsourced IT that takes care of the basic day to day activities. They keep everything running, but they may lack the time to focus on IT strategy, and research how to improve the business with technology. In some cases, the IT person or partner isn’t brought into business strategy meetings, which may mean they are in the dark when it comes to changes of direction. In a technology-driven business landscape, this scenario leads to missed opportunities, whether for new services or for more efficient processes.

It is, of course, necessary to keep the day to day IT activities running smoothly, but the right oversight can raise the bar, as well as cut costs. For example, one of the most frequent overspends we encounter happens where a business subscribes to services as part of the day to day operations, but then the staff member moves on to the next project, without realising that those subscriptions are no longer needed, or that a better option is now available. We’ve seen tens of thousands of dollars squandered in this way per month.

IT Leadership: The C-Level Challenge

These missed opportunities and overspends can be picked up by a strategic CIO but, with such C-level employees starting at no less than $120k per year, this is out of reach for small-to-mid-sized businesses. Or at least, it was before the pay-as-you-go Virtual CIO Services (vCIO) option emerged. For smaller organisations, a vCIO means strategy-driven IT without the overhead.

What a vCIO does can vary from business to business. Our consultants work at a strategic level to align IT with the business, but this take many forms. It may be a few hours a month to act as a sounding board for in-house IT staff and business owners, or a day or two a week to drive key projects. As with most ‘as a service’ options, consumption of a vCIO service may increase and decrease to suit the organisation’s needs: more during planning periods or major transitions, less when the implementation phase is completed. vCIOs even cover key staff during times of sickness or long service leave.

Get More From Your IT Investment

Typically, a vCIO can focus on risk reduction, cost management, and analysis of the IT needs of the business. They can help to get more value from IT investment.

In one case, by analysing exactly where the IT budget was going, one of our vCIOs was able to pinpoint hundreds of thousands of dollars of unnecessary expenditure on external IT services that weren’t needed. Another helped with onboarding new staff when a customer had acquired a competitor, tactfully working through ways to combine two businesses into one effective team.

By acting as part of the business, rather than a more transient consultant arrangement, the vCIO’s role is to know the intricacies of your organisation, and to match it with potential opportunities. They are your eyes and ears in the industry, seeing which emerging technology represents opportunity, and when to steer clear of over-hyped products.

The vCIO also has the capacity to develop staff. One customer enlisted help from a TechPath vCIO when they weren’t happy with the pace of their cloud journey. The IT manager had been juggling the demands of the daily ‘lights on’ needs with researching how to make the transition work. Without comprehensive experience of cloud transitions, this is a hazardous task, but in half a day per week, the vCIO was able to review the migration plan and guide him through, not only assisting with project work but suggesting courses and budgeting time for one-on-one training. The customer is now able to manage the day to day independently, and the IT manager embraced the chance to grow his skillset.

Virtual CIO Services: Flexibility and Experience

To us, it makes sense that vCIOs have complete flexibility, meaning no contract and no minimum time – the service is provided on an hourly basis. Having said that, the best outcomes arise from regular attendance, so that continuity is established. Just as with a full-time CIO, they get to know your business, and the more they know, the better the results.

A vCIO has a minimum of ten years of experience in the IT provider space, with senior technical knowledge as a level three engineer. The job is about more than just technical knowledge though; a vCIO must be comfortable asking the hard questions at a senior business level, ready to influence strategy, and able to advocate for the IT team. For the customers rising above the day to day, enlisting a vCIO has been transformational, giving them the agility to face a tremendously challenging business environment with confidence. These times may be uncertain, but one thing is for sure: technology will play a vital role in forging a path through it all.

Time to get more strategic about your IT? Contact our friendly Virtual CIO Services team for a chat today.

Read more about TechPath Virtual CIO Services (vCIO)