- Published: Thursday, April 20, 2017 07:00
By Jeff Richards
There comes a point in many company’s growth when it becomes obvious that the investments made in IT haven’t kept pace with the business and this shortfall has now become a constraint. Your technology capabilities just aren’t good enough, but for reasons of either capacity or skill sets, your current in-house IT team is not able to rectify the situation. You realize that your organization could really benefit from the expertise of an experienced CIO (Chief Information Officer) to chart the way forward—but you either do not need or cannot afford to bring someone in on a full-time basis. This is where the fractional CIO comes in.
Fractional CIOs are experts at driving change, which is why they usually play more of a “transformation” role than a “day-to-day management” role.
If you’ve been considering bringing in a fractional CIO, here are three good reasons to do so...
1. You need flexibility – The work required to be done by fractional CIOs tends to ebb and flow. You might need someone on site three days a week this week, four days a week for the month after that, and then just once or twice a week after that. Many fractional CIOs can provide that kind of flexibility, based on plan and project portfolio. Plus, as part of helping you lay out your IT road map, your fractional CIO can also help predict your needs for his or her time. For example, you may need your fractional CIO to (re)negotiate a contract with one of your technology suppliers and perform occasional health checks.
2. You’re experiencing a technology debt – Technology debt is something that tends to creep up on you. One of the biggest reasons why organizations get into a technology debt situation is that they view IT only as a cost center. IT is frequently pressured to reduce costs by doing more with less. But if you do not invest in your IT systems, eventually progress will get to a tipping point where IT can no longer meet your business demand. When IT becomes a constraint to growth, and you realize that you have execution resources but no strategy resources, a fractional CIO can be the ideal person to develop and drive the plan, leading to an effective solution. For example, at the outset of the engagement a fractional CIO can complete a concentrated assessment of your situation and chart a course to improvement. Then after that they can provide weekly guidance to both your team implementing the changes and senior management.
3. M&As have left you with multiple systems and processes – Some organizations do a terrific job of integrating acquisitions into the parent company’s systems and processes; others do not. If your organization is in the latter category, you may eventually find that multiple, non-integrated systems and processes can become a significant impediment to efficient operations. As an outsider who doesn’t have a vested interest, a fractional CIO can act as a neutral arbiter to help sort these things out in the best way for the company.
For example, one of the companies we worked with in the past had purchased a number of smaller companies in order to round out their portfolio of product offerings. However, they had been so busy with these M&A activities that they had not yet rationalized their sales, contracting, product development or new product introduction processes. As a result, things were a bit of a mess! We were able to help them clean things up, including doing a company-wide roll-out of a very helpful application that was only being used by 25% of the company, and streamlining their 98 different product contract templates down to just 17.
When you need the expertise of an experienced CIO but don’t need full-time assistance, consider bringing in a fractional CIO. A fractional CIO can provide the strategic help you need, driving transformation for systems and processes company-wide.
About Jeff Richards
As an inspirational leader with the ability to develop the “big picture” strategy then drive it down to executable tactics for implementation, Jeff leads our Professional Services team. Clients benefit from Jeff’s 25+ years of experience developing and implementing transformative business strategies.
Jeff’s experience spans both industry (including Materials, Operations and IT Management) and consulting. He developed a unique global perspective during his tenure in significant P&L management-level positions in both Asia and Europe.
About CIO Professional Services
Based in the San Francisco Bay area, CIO Professional Services LLC is a top-rated Information Technology (IT) consulting firm focused on integrating Business and Information Technology. Our consultants are all hands-on executives who are veteran CIOs and Partners of Big 4 consulting firms. Companies come to us seeking assistance with their information technology strategy as well as for interim or fractional CIO / CTOs, and negotiation and program management/project rescue assistance.