Does your CIO have a second job within your own company?
This is a common occurrence among small-to-medium sized businesses everywhere, and we see it all the time here in Vermont. Someone in the organization has demonstrated some tech skills – maybe he or she replaced a hard drive on a machine or managed some other issue – and consequently becomes the de facto CIO for all tech decisions.
This is a dangerous arrangement for many reasons.
First, managing technology is not a job for one person, especially not someone whose primary responsibilities lie in a completely different department. There will never be enough hours in a day to fulfill that person’s job role and work proactively on tech issues as well. Second, asking someone who has no formal training to make critical IT decisions is not only unfair – it can lead to disaster. These companies would benefit the most from using an Outsourced CIO.
What Is an Outsourced CIO?
An Outsourced CIO provides vision for your tech, just like any CIO would, with one important distinction. Instead of a single project manager finding ways to make technology serve your organization better, you have an expert backed by a team of engineers. While these technicians manage your IT infrastructure from the outside, an Outsourced CIO participates in important discussions internally, answering questions about tech while hearing about organizational challenges, plans, culture, and collaboration.
By inviting a managed services provider into the inner circle of your company, you empower them to participate in decisions and get fast, accurate insight into how technology can support the organization’s present and future goals.
This may sound nice, but it probably also sounds like a giant leap of faith for most businesses. Why would any company trust a vendor to sit with decision makers and get access to all kinds of sensitive company information?
How Transparency Impacts Your IT Services
Many people would consider it madness to entrust a vendor with intimate knowledge of the inner workings behind the scenes. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
MSPs Do Not Share Proprietary Information.
Data security is one of the most important services an MSP provides. They should be supervising and managing every aspect of your IT infrastructure already, from networks, to printers, to software and end-user clients.
They exist to protect your operational and customer data, and they take your trust very seriously. An Outsourced CIO adds another layer to that trust, but there are precautions you can take if needed. Ask your IT partner to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that specifies what they can and cannot do with your company information. This is a legal contract that could lead to punitive damages in court if your vendor violates the terms.
An NDA is always a good idea, but if your MSP has a good reputation, they will do anything to maintain it. Mismanaging data or otherwise violating your trust would be disastrous for them.
You Can Control Their Involvement.
An Outsourced CIO does not show up at your office every day and ask for a place to sit and work. They only attend scheduled meetings on a bi-monthly basis at your office (or whatever frequency makes sense for your needs) to collect insights and answer questions.
They don’t need to know about everything happening at the workplace, but the more they know, the better.
Remember, a CIO is charged with using technology to improve the business. He or she understands where the company is today, and where it is going. It’s easier for someone to be effective if they have a finger on the pulse of the culture and the inner workings of various departments. When your business decides to roll out new HR software or a CRM in the next two years, the tech will already be in place to support it because your CIO knew about it well in advance.
Direct Communication With Your CIO Is Valuable.
As mentioned earlier, the Outsourced CIO has incredible insight into your business operations, thanks to the raw data they manage about your networks, hardware, software and user behavior.
When it’s time to discuss new trends or goals, they can offer a valuable perspective based on the state of your technology today. In addition, when you remove the barriers between your tech experts and the decision makers in your company, you prevent important details from getting lost in the translation. Information technology is immensely complicated today, and by allowing managed services to propose solutions directly to senior managers, you will drastically reduce the possibility of miscommunication.
Trust is the key to any successful outsourced solution, and IT is no different. Even SMBs spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on tech every year. Wouldn’t you want the best information available to guide those decisions for your company? A good Outsourced CIO will keep your tech aligned with the company direction because they know the culture.
And, as a side benefit, your de facto CIO can get back to focusing on his/her primary role once again.