The chief information officer (CIO) role has evolved dramatically since its emergence as a C-suite position in the mid-1980s. Early on, information technology (IT) leaders were primarily focused on network administration and “keeping the lights on” activities. Now, CIOs are required to combine strategic thinking, experience, and a strong business sense with the technical know-how to act as a liaison between business users and the IT department. To succeed, and to help their company succeed, they must be skilled at integrating technology into overall business strategies.
It’s not uncommon for middle-market companies to operate without a CIO. Often, companies in that space have an IT manager or IT director but lack someone who sits in the executive suite and reports directly to the CEO. One reason for this is cost. Many middle-market companies cannot afford another C-suite executive, even if they know that hiring one could ultimately save them money in the long term and help the company be more competitive in the marketplace. In these situations, companies can hire an outsourced CIO who will bring their experience and unbiased perspective to an organization at a fraction of the cost of a full-time hire. (Read More: 10 Reasons Why Businesses Are Outsourcing Their CIOs)
The Benefits Of Utilizing An Outsourced CIO
A strong outsourced CIO thinks beyond technical needs and considers the needs of the organization as a whole and from a strategic business perspective. While many middle-market companies outsource certain IT functions to managed service providers (MSPs), outsourcing a CIO means bringing a senior leader to the executive table who acts as an extension of your team. It’s a critical step for companies ready to move to the next level of technology integration for business success.
Considering an outsourced CIO? Here are five benefits to help make the decision.
1. Independent Leadership
Bringing in an outsourced CIO from an independent firm ensures that any recommendations, guidance and advice received are always coming from a place of objectivity and in the company’s best interest. With no pressure to recommend a specific system, vendor, or hardware or software product, independent outsourced CIOs can thoroughly analyze various options, test those options, and make decisions that best serve the organization.
2. Short And Long-Term Planning
Often business leaders want to improve the alignment between IT and the business and establish a cadence that is more proactive than it is reactive. An outsourced CIO can develop a strategic IT roadmap that is prioritized and sequenced to address short and long-term business goals. Just like a new employee would do, an outsourced CIO will initially spend time learning about the business and the culture, while evaluating opportunities, risks and gaps. Ultimately, this insight is used to develop the plan and help the business understand the path forward.
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3. Cost Savings
Many companies don’t have the resources to hire a full time CIO, but recognize they can’t afford to be without a strategic leader or advisor giving them unbiased guidance when it comes to IT. Hiring an outsourced CIO is almost always a less expensive option than hiring a full-time, in-house CIO. Not only is there a cost savings in terms of salary, but an outsourced CIO does not require benefits or even office space. Beyond that, one of the roles of an outsourced CIO is to manage the IT portfolio. It’s often possible for someone in this role to assess outside vendors, renegotiate contracts and even make necessary changes to recoup costs and uncover significant savings.
4. Depth And Breadth Of Experience
When a company hires a new CIO, it’s common to look for someone with experience in the company’s industry, often in the hopes of shortening the learning curve. In some industries, like healthcare, this is crucial. In others, it’s equally wise to consider the benefits of an outsourced CIO from a firm that works with many industries where there are opportunities to learn from experience. There are many parallels within industries that are not always apparent until you have an executive who has had exposure to different industry sectors.
5. Coaching And Collaboration
An outsourced CIO may be tasked with managing an IT staff that likely includes either an IT manager or IT director. Often, the CIO will look to identify potential future leaders within the department and develop a plan to help these individuals grow in their roles and be promoted from within. With outside perspective and experience, an outsourced CIO can provide guidance related to both technical skills and business acumen, with the ultimate goal of enhancing collaboration between the business and the IT department.
Hire An Outsourced CIO Today
As your business grows and evolves, so do your IT needs. When it’s time to add a CIO to your organization, outsourcing the role is a strategic move that comes with many benefits. Hartman Executive Advisors offers middle-market companies and nonprofit organizations the opportunity to work with experienced CIOs on an outsourced basis who can help companies leverage IT to achieve their business goals. Contact us today or schedule a no-cost consultation to learn more about IT outsourcing opportunities to help you meet your goals.