What does a virtual CIO do?

A vCIO or virtual CIO (Chief Information Officer) provides businesses with dedicated, flexible, and remote expertise to develop strategic IT goals, and then meet these by managing the budgetary and technical approach that will allow the strategy to succeed.

Conversation between a virtual IO and a business owner via telemeeting

Potential responsibilities of a virtual CIO

In some businesses, the virtual CIO role will be purely consultative. In others, it may be more hands on.

Depending on the organisation, a virtual CIO may be responsible for:

  • Developing an IT strategy which helps a business:
  1. Meet their overall goals and objectives, in line with budgets and timeframes
  2. Ensure operational efficiency by harnessing up-to-date technology
  • Reporting on progress towards meeting identified goals and set targets
  • Liaising with other departments involved with delivering the IT strategy
  • Ensuring policies and procedures reliant on IT use are workable and effective, especially cybersecurity and data protection
  • Overseeing all aspects of the business’ IT infrastructure, including networking, hardware, and software
  • Developing a disaster recovery policy and ensuring business resilience
  • Working with internal or external teams to identify any needs for system upgrades

This is neither an exhaustive nor compulsory list. It’s important to work with a virtual CIO to agree on the roles appropriate for your business.

Core aspects of a vCIO’s role

Strategic planning

Perhaps the single most important part of a virtual CIO’s role is developing an IT strategy to help the business achieve its goals. To do this well, they will need multiple years of industry experience, and a good understanding of:

  • the business
  • its operations
  • its budget
  • business values
  • key markets and objectives.

As the business and industry develop (e.g. the emergence of new markets, or cashflow changes) your vCIO should be kept informed so the IT strategy can be adapted if necessary.

IT support team member performing an IT hardware inspection

Strategy implementation

This should be an ongoing process, which will involve auditing and analyses. The strategy may also need amending and updating in line with real-time developments.

For this to work, the vCIO will need to take a proactive approach in identifying the best route forward, whether that means new processes or technology.

This aspect of the role also includes some reporting, so that key personnel can make informed decisions.

IT management

At a smaller company, especially if there is no formalised IT department or dedicated staff, a virtual CIO’s role may switch between focusing on strategic overview and implementation to leading the day-to-day decision making needed to maintain business IT infrastructure.

When it comes to operational management, this can include working with and directing any in-house or virtual staff, and taking the lead on IT maintenance activities, such as:

  • hardware and software checks
  • ensuring regulatory compliance
  • implementing security measures
  • staff training
  • managing back-ups and upgrades.

The benefits of a vCIO

A virtual CIO is the linchpin that brings together different strands of a business reliant on IT to succeed. Their leadership and management skills will link vision, data-driven targets, and innovation with existing and emerging technologies.

While a vCIO works remotely, their experience and professional expertise should allow them to build effective working relationships within your organisation, and to be accountable for decisions they make, allowing business owners to refocus their time and attention.

A software upgrade being performed on a laptop

Professional virtual CIO services from Micro Maintenance

The value of a reliable, efficient, and effective virtual CIO should not be underestimated, given the impact their experience can have on business operations.

Fortunately, Micro Maintenance can help. Our cost-effective virtual CIO services are customised to meet the unique needs of each individual client.

In addition to helping create and deliver strategic reviews and infrastructure implementations, our experience in the field means all operational needs – from compliance and network security to disaster planning – will be handled with reassuring competence.

For a discussion about how our virtual CIO services can add value to your business IT plans, get in touch today.

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