Why one vs the other?
More than ever before, business leaders need Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) that understand both business and technology on a strategic level and who can lead an organization through the myriad of complex automation, integration, customer satisfaction, profitability and cyber risk issues.
When an organization does not have an in-house CIO or CTO, executive leaders can either choose to bring in an interim CIO or CTO or engage with a strategic technology advisor. Both options offer a level of experience and perspective that can be critical to successfully navigating situations including corporate mergers and acquisitions, software selection and implementation, launch of a new product or market offering, or even the sudden departure of a current IT leader. Bringing in an outside IT leader is especially important when executive leadership lacks the background knowledge to navigate these situations.
Interim Executive IT Placement vs. Fractional CIO/CTO Advisory Services
The question is, are these two options the same? How does a business leader know whether they need an interim CIO or CTO as opposed to longer-term IT advisory services?
Typically, interim CIO/CTO situations are full-time and shorter in duration, until either the current issue is resolved, or a full-time hire can be identified and onboarded. Interim CIOs and CTOs are often independent contractors but can also be represented by staffing firms. Their specific industry or system knowledge is paramount to the success of their temporary engagement.
Executive IT advisors may be longer in duration and are comparable to an executive coach who can work with an executive or a team for years and add more value as they get to know the organization better. This service is typically fractional or part-time. These CIOs and CTOs can come from strategic IT advisory firms or can also be independent contractors.
In both cases, companies should look for experienced CIOs, with knowledge specific to the situation, to fill these roles. These aren’t the roles where you expect a lot of ‘on the job training’ except when it comes to specific, proprietary systems. In all cases, they should be independent, and not associated with companies that sell or benefit from potentially conflicting IT or other services or systems. They should be 100% free to provide advice that is strictly in your best interest.
Which Should I Consider For My Organization?
There are many factors to consider when debating the options, including, but not limited to:
- The size of the organization
- The industry
- The role IT plays within the organization and whether that role needs to evolve
- The availability and potential of middle managers that are ready to step immediately into a larger role
- The leadership and change culture of the organization
- Major events taking place (such as an audit or merger) that require immediate IT leadership
- Whether or not the organization has ever had a full-time CIO or CTO
While there is no simple answer to whether an organization should bring in an interim IT leader or engage a strategic IT advisory firm, factors like the ones above are critical to finding the right approach, and the right leader that can serve both your short- and long-term IT strategy needs.
Speak With Hartman Executive Advisors To Learn More
Hartman is an independent technology leadership firm that works with executives to strengthen the role that IT plays in supporting their business goals. We serve organizations on a fractional basis as strategic IT leaders, and we also help fill interim IT leadership roles for companies that need a full-time leader. Please contact us to discuss which approach is right for your needs.