The specific skills of a vCIO vary depending on the person. Generally, you can expect them to be capable of aligning your IT systems and subsystems with the objectives of your business.
In the same way that a traditional CIO has a vested interest in the success of your business, your vCIO will be equally committed to delivering results.
Improved IT Infrastructure
Having a strong IT infrastructure for your business is crucial for business success for a number of reasons, but perhaps most importantly, because it helps your business collect data in real-time to make improvements to the way you do business.
Your vCIO service will provide you with regular and comprehensive reviews of your company’s IT infrastructure and security. These reviews keep you aware of what can be improved and address any misalignments with your infrastructure, applications, and security.
They’ll then follow up their reviews with guidance on how to move forward strategically and which solutions can fill in any gaps.
Guidance on IT Security and Cybersecurity
The cybersecurity of your business is perhaps the critical issue that a vCIO addresses, especially given that cyberattacks have only continued to become increasingly sophisticated and frequent.
According to Accenture, 43% of cyberattacks are directed towards small businesses while only 14% of them are able to defend themselves adequately. Hiscox, an insurance carrier, reported that such incidents could cost businesses an average of $200,000.
Given the danger, one might assume that every single business transitioning to remote would do so with a Cybersecurity Threat Prevention Plan, but that’s not the case.
In fact, research from Alliant Cybersecurity reported that one-in-five SMBs made their transition without any clear plan to mitigate the risks of cyberattacks.
If your company lacks an in-house cybersecurity expert, then you should absolutely consider bringing on a vCIO.
In fact, the role of security has become so important that there’s now a new designation for a vCIO who specializes in cybersecurity: a vCISO (virtual chief information security officer).
This service is designed to help give businesses like yours expert-level security guidance at a scale and budget that makes sense.
Your vCISO service would likely begin with a risk assessment of your business’s security plan that encompasses your entire company, from your internal training programs and security policies to your business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) plans.
Data Backup and Recovery
How would your business respond to a disruptive event that results in data loss or disruption? Is there a set plan in place that informs your company how to deal with your data being held for ransom by a cybercriminal?
Many businesses either lack the time or the expertise to put together a comprehensive data backup and recovery plan that properly addresses these potential disruptions, but a vCIO would be able to provide assistance in putting these things together.
If desired, the vCIO could also help your business set up cloud backups and determine which cloud solutions are right for your business.
All of these initiatives will be part of an effort to help maintain business continuity. And in the event of a critical failure that impedes work, they’ll assist with recovery so that your company can get back to up to speed as quickly as possible.
Alignment of IT with Business Objectives
As mentioned earlier, your vCIO won’t merely work with you to understand your IT strategy and business goals.
They’ll also work with your company to understand which technologies and IT best practices you need to adopt so that your business not only stays on track but also stays up to date.
Because technology is constantly changing, and at a rate that’s faster than ever, your vCIO service will most likely develop a long-term relationship with your business.
For this reason, it’s also useful to think of your vCIO service as an outsourced technology department that manages your long-term IT strategy while also helping to onboard your team to new technologies.
How much does a vCIO Cost?
As mentioned earlier in the article, one of the primary benefits of getting a vCIO service for your organization is the amount of money you end up saving, compared to if you went with a traditional CIO or even an internal IT team.
But how much does a vCIO actually cost? The answer depends on a number of factors, chief among them being the size of your organization, the service level agreement, and the complexity of your business’s IT infrastructure.
For very basic plans, expect to pay at least $250 per month for most a la carte vCIO services.
For larger organizations and enterprise-level companies, costs can go up to $6000 per month. At this level, the vCIO functionally acts as a substitute for a full-time traditional CIO.
We’ll break down the primary factors below.
- Size of Organization — The reason the size of your organization impacts the cost of your vCIO service is fairly simple. If your company is smaller and has fewer people to manage and train, the vCIO won’t have as much to do and can operate on a more part-time basis. If your company is larger and has many people to onboard, train, and manage, working on a part-time basis won’t suffice and they may even need to utilize the resources of the MSP from which you contracted them.
- Service Level Agreement — When contracting a vCIO through an MSP, the MSP should provide you with a service level agreement (SLA) that helps you measure the quality of the services you’re getting from them, including your vCIO. The greater the range of services, the greater the cost.
- Complexity of IT Infrastructure — How complex is your IT infrastructure? If your business operates with a relatively simple IT infrastructure, managing, monitoring, and improving it over time will cost much less than if it’s larger. Making changes to more complex infrastructures often take more time, especially if said changes impact your business fundamental IT systems (for instance, migrating from on-premise to the cloud).
MSP’s like Commprise tend to offer different packages that suit your business needs rather than delivering a one-size-fits-all service. These packages can scale depending on the size of your company.
For instance, if your company is less than 20 people and has a simple IT infrastructure, you may be able to utilize a more basic vCIO service if your IT project needs are relatively light.
But if your company has 30-40 people and a more complex IT infrastructure, the costs will inevitably be higher.
These costs can be fixed, monthly, or yearly; Commprise typically bills monthly for this service.
Downsides to Working with a vCIO?
While having a vCIO has many benefits, there are some cons to consider before making a conclusive decision to hire one for your company.
Unlike a traditional CIO, a virtual CIO won’t be in your office. If your company is fully remote, this won’t be an issue, but if your company is on-premise or even just partially remote, you may prefer to have your IT staff at a physical workstation.
Just because the vCIO comes with a fresh and multi-industry perspective doesn’t mean hiring one will be a plug-and-play situation. It takes time for your vCIO and MSP to become familiar with your business and it’s IT needs.
And if your company is a larger organization with heavier compliance needs, an on staff CIO may actually be more suited to align your organization’s IT strategy with its risk management and compliance programs.
Help Your Technology Work for You
As traditional CIO roles continue to expand into other areas in business, such as procurement, innovation, operations, and even human resources, the scope of vCIO services should advance similarly to accommodate growing business needs.
Technology may be changing rapidly, but a solid vCIO will help steer your business safely through any turbulent changes in the coming years.
A vCIO for Your Unique Business Needs
Businesses all around the globe are still navigating this new world of remote work and increasing technological advancement, and while not every business can afford to have a veteran CIO on their team full-time, any SMB can utilize vCIO services.
The way your company manages its technology can make or break your business. On the one hand, technology helps you scale and can increase productivity in a myriad of ways, but if your IT systems encounter a disruptive event or your team struggles to adapt to the constant change, it can grind things to a halt.
Avoid the downsides of technological risk at a cost that makes sense for your business by contacting Commprise about our vCIO services that come as part of our Managed IT services.
Unlike other MSPs that give you pre-packaged services that might not fit your particular business needs, we use our cross-market knowledge to create original solutions that give your business the edge it needs to stay ahead of the game.