"The key business benefit of retaining a Fractional CIO is that they provide the same expertise and capability of a full-time CIO without the associated level of overhead and benefits associated with adding another top-level executive.”“
That being said, there are some key differentiators when contracting a Fractional CIO. In this first of a three-part blog I’d like to focus on one of those key differentiators…
In my experience as the lead Information Technology (IT) executive in many non-profit and for-profit organizations, one thing has always been very clear, the CEO, COO, and CFO have many balls in the air and generally can’t get deep into the weeds of any one specific area of their organization.
Getting into the weeds of IT generally results in confusion with technical jargon, long conversations around risk, and a myriad of decision points that often get delayed until more information becomes clearer. Key executives, and the board members they report to, need to make strategic decisions at a very high level and often need someone who can ask the right impact questions which a tactical and non-biased Fractional CIO can interpret and turn into a strategic roadmap to success.
When talking about IT strategy and solutions to executives over the years, I’ve generally heard several questions more than others. “What is CompanyX doing?” and “Who are VendorX’s customers?” and “How Much Did CompanyX spend?” Different words but the outcome is that essentially executives want to benchmark their organization with other organizations and the competition. I’ve worked with COOs and CFOs who couldn’t approve the budget until they understood what comparison organizations, or the competition, were investing in technology.
Benchmarking is a key area where a Fractional CIO is more beneficial than a traditional CIO. A Fractional CIO isn’t married to one organization and generally has multiple clients. When asked the types of benchmarking questions mentioned above, a Fractional CIO can often provide immediate answers. An internal resource might need to spend weeks or months to develop a benchmarking methodology and reach out and benchmark with others.
A couple things happen when an internal resource reaches out to benchmark. The first thing that happens is that your competition finds out what you’re doing. The second thing is the optics of asking can be damaging to your brand.
Each arrangement we have with our clients includes a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) which will allow us to provide benchmarking data in real time without exposing any sensitive competitive data.
Stay tuned for the second part of this blog, where I’ll talk about how a Fractional CIO treats vendors as Strategic Partners and the benefit and results of that partnership.