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As an SMB, what does your c-suite look like? If you were a major corporation, you’d likely have a lot of “chiefs” – CEO, COO, CFO – along with a variety of investment, marketing and legal executives. Today you might also be considering the benefits of adding a Chief Information Officer. This position is responsible for charting the corporation’s vision, strategy and goals from a technology standpoint. The importance of this senior role reflects corporate America’s growing recognition of the value of technological insight in our dynamic era of cloud computing, compliance demands and constant threats to cybersecurity. Forbes covers the topic here.

Your SMB faces similar challenges – on a smaller scale. You may have a top in-house tech team, but they need to focus on day-to-day operations and can’t provide big-picture thinking. But is a CIO a reasonable solution for an SMB? If yours is a company with less than 250 employees, probably not. But still the requirement remains. And that’s where a Virtual CIO comes in. The vCIO is an outside resource that can supply your organization with the broad strategic vision and diverse technological expertise of a high-priced executive, but at a small-business price. If you’re exploring the possibility of hiring a CIO, here are some thoughts about how a vCIO might fill the bill.

CIO vs. vCIO: Which is Right for Your Company?

  • Cost control – Outsourcing the CIO role turns fixed costs into variable costs. You only pay for the services you are using, instead of supporting a full-time, on-staff executive.
  • Core focus – The vCIO will handle your company’s big strategic tech questions, while your non-tech management team focuses on what they do best: growing the business.
  • Training and experience – The vCIO comes fully trained, certified and experienced. You won’t have to be concerned about keeping current with the latest tech developments (they’re on them already).
  • Rapid implementation – The vCIO is ready to “hit the ground running.” There’s no testing or waiting to roll out new solutions developed in-house.
  • Risk assumption – Your managed services provider assumes many of your security and compliance risks. More big headaches avoided.

What to Look for in a vCIO

There are two ways to cover the cost of a vCIO. You can pay a flat time-based rate or you can go with a bundle of IT services that include the vCIO. Either way, you’ll want to evaluate the provider carefully. Here’s what to look for:

  • Longevity – How many years has the provider been in business?
  • Reputation – Who are the provider’s clients and how do they rate their service?
  • Relevance – Is the provider certified in the tech you need for your unique business?
  • Familiarity – Is the provider experienced in your industry and its issues?
  • Capacity – Does the provider have sufficient resources to support you as you grow?
  • Flexibility – Can the provider accommodate the peaks and valleys of activity in your business?

Hiring an outside IT service provider is a big deal for a small business, but it can deliver big results. Integrated Business Systems (IBS) has been providing managed IT services for SMBs since 1999. We share some of the key things we’ve learned in “Why Outsourcing Your Information Technology Might Make Sense.” It’s worth a read. Download it for free here.