There is “IT support” and then there is “Virtual CIO services.” Unfortunately, if you do not have an IT background, these two services may appear as equals. In this blog, you’ll learn what a CIO does and how this service benefits small businesses. Of course, all fast and knowledgeable IT support services are great unto themselves. But, to make real gains in technology maturity, you need strategic experts who understand the technology leaps necessary and how to make it happen.
If your small business is in New York, please listen up! We are in the city and can help make this “virtual” aspect in-person for you.
Goal Setting with a vCIO
It’s important to outline your organizational goals as well as highlight the specific areas of improvement that you’d like your vCIO to help with. An organizational goal may be that your company will open a second office. Ok, that’s a great goal! But what are some of the technical requirements that need to be sorted out to make that opening smooth? Does your organization fall victim to annoying software that seems to be working against you, but never with you? Are you losing productivity because of outdated, manual tasks?
A vCIO will understand these common barriers and will leverage their expert IT knowledge and leadership to get you on a path to success.
How often will you speak with them?
Your vCIO first needs to consult with you in-depth to understand the current state of affairs. This will involve a full assessment of your IT landscape, policies, and internal structure. Depending on your unique goals and areas needing improvement, you may need to speak with your vCIO on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis to ensure you’re on track.
A vCIO typically provides guidance on
- IT strategy development
- Cybersecurity policy and training - according to the National Cybersecurity Alliance most small businesses (60%+) go out of business within 6 months of a cyberattack?
- Employee onboarding
- Disaster recovery
- Vendor management
- System integrations
- Input on regulatory and compliance matters such as: HIPAA, PCI DSS, CPPA
Developing an IT Roadmap
A robust and comprehensive path to success means that your vCIO needs to develop an IT Roadmap. This IT Roadmap serves as a fantastic planning tool in order to align the expectations including both short and long-term planning and goals for your organization.
The vCIO must oversee all aspects of information technology and articulate IT plans within this roadmap.
Developing a comprehensive IT Roadmap involves:
- A comprehensive understanding of IT assets, applications, cloud services, software vendors, licensing agreements, and cybersecurity.
- The expertise of your vCIO, with years of experience in selecting the best-fit software and services for the customer organization. This requires a balance between cost, functionality, and work efficiency.
- Asset management. This includes oversight of domain name registrations, SSL certificates, cloud service agreements, hardware, and software.
- Disaster recovery programs and a business continuity plan.
- Developing a cybersecurity policy, with both written and machine-enforced policies. Machine-enforced policies are software-defined and include things like:
- User access controls
- Password policy
- Endpoint security settings
- Firewall security service settings
- Data Loss Prevention
- Data retention policies
- Backup policies
- Developing procedures for employee onboarding and offboarding. These are defined as runbooks and may include creating/archiving accounts, transferring data, training, etc.
- Oversight of cybersecurity training protocols.
Once the IT Roadmap has captured the above critical components, the vCIO typically acts as a project manager in tandem with a sponsor on the client side.
A vCIO will not only help you plan for the future proactively, but they will grow with your organization and help you as challenges pop up along the way. It’s incredibly important to establish a cadence of progress reporting and expectations - both on the client’s end and the vCIO’s end. Support metrics and satisfaction scores are typically reviewed during recurring meetings. Meetings will include review of the IT Roadmap progress, and tracking open projects, completed projects, and projects encountering roadblocks.
The vCIO will typically report on the following topics during progress meetings:
- Asset lifecycle management. This means keeping track of computer hardware and software and providing reports for budgeting purposes.
- Also in line with the budgeting process, the VCIO makes recommendations and provides estimates for additional projects. The VCIO can look back at historical IT spend to help make decisions in this department.
- Compliance reporting. This includes managing the lifecycle process of compliance for things like the HIPAA security rule or PCI compliance.
- Relationship health and partnership alignment. Are the other roles in IT meeting expectations? Is the VCIO meeting expectations?
All in all, bringing on a vCIO will not only be a cost-effective solution to your IT challenges, but they serve as a trusted advisor dedicated to seeing your organization grow. As technology continues to emerge, those who employ the best resources and stay on top of the digital landscape will have a sharp competitive advantage.
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