Entrepreneurs are always busy – busy coming up with new ideas, busy putting existing ideas into place, and busy realizing their goals as their startup grows. By nature they try to wear a lot of hats, but one area where no early-stage company can afford to “go it alone” is technology.
I know many entrepreneurs who pride themselves on their tech-savvy nature and who keep up with tech trends for different aspects of business. I think that’s admirable, but I feel it only makes them a better partner for an outsourced CIO – not a replacement for one.
An outsourced CIO plays a vital role in any early-stage company, helping to set up technologies and IT processes that are effective, scalable, stable and secure. Here are 10 reasons why every early-stage company needs an outsourced CIO on the team.
1. Outsourced CIOs Keep up with the Times
An outsourced CIO knows not only what software, hardware and other technologies have worked well historically, but he also keeps his finger on the pulse of emerging tech that could benefit your company. He’ll know when it’s time to pull the trigger on purchases or when it’s time to hold off and wait until the next generation arrives. Without this guidance, it’s easy for an entrepreneur to simply want “the best of everything” for his company, without really knowing what the “best” truly is. This can become a costly mistake.
2. Outsourced CIOs Develop All-Encompassing Strategy
After carefully reviewing your company’s current needs, anticipating future needs and looking at what technology competitors are using, your outsourced CIO will devise a plan for all your IT needs that also takes into account the strategies of other executives. If your CMO or CFO have ideas that require specific tools to accomplish, their input will be part of the overall strategy your CIO develops. This strategy will guide your company not only through the present early stages but beyond into times of growth. It will scale along with your business.
3. An Outsourced CIO Can Hire a Talented IT Team
If your business is already at the stage when an in-house IT department makes sense, your outsourced CIO can help you make informed hires. He’ll vet candidates and give you unbiased opinions about applicants. In the end, you’ll be staffed with employees who are a good fit for your company to reduce turnover when you can afford it least.
4. An Outsourced CIO Cares About Your Success
Any good outsourced CIO, like those at Shared CxO, has his eye on the ultimate goal of your company’s success. As such, every decision he makes regarding IT infrastructure and the technologies that complement other aspects of business (marketing, accounting, project management, etc.) will be made with your business’s best interests at heart. A Shared CxO CIO has no other agenda. Unlike a full-time employee he’s not concerned with job longevity or opportunities for advancement. And unlike a freelancer he’s not concerned with renewing a contract for long-term income. He’s simply there to get the job done and do it well.
5. An Outsourced CIO Saves You Money – in More Ways Than One
Early-stage companies are unlikely to have the capital to hire a full-time, permanent CIO off the bat. It’s a good goal to work towards but not a prudent use of budget in the start-up phase. This is because an outsourced CIO can do the same work for a fraction of the price, which is important when money is tight.
An entrepreneur also wants to make sure every dollar spent is spent wisely. So when it comes to one of the biggest ticket items in business overhead, establishing technology infrastructure and processes, the guidance of an expert is invaluable. Your outsourced CIO can help you avoid making unnecessary purchases (does every single work station really need the most expensive and high-powered computer on the market and are you reallygoing to need that many licenses of a pricey software suite from the beginning?) and keep your initial tech spend in check.
6. Outsourced CIOs Work as Part of Your Team
Whether you have a small team of core employees or a larger organization already in place, and whatever other executives you may have working on a temporary or permanent basis, your outsourced CIO can fit in as part of the team. He’ll help guide your in-house talent on proper use of the technologies available to them and make sure your IT team is prepared to carry out his long-term plans.
He’ll also complement your current executives, working alongside them as they develop their own strategies and tactics for your company’s growth. He may have ideas that can enhance their plans, and he will be receptive to their input when developing his own. Even though his tenure with your company may be limited, he’ll still consider himself part of your organization.
7. An Outsourced CIO is a Flexible Asset
In my experience working with a multitude of start-ups, early-stage companies can expect a certain volatility in their initial phases. There are times when you’ll need the advice of a CIO heavily, and other times when you just want everybody to get out of your way. Shared CxO‘s outsourced CIOs understand this fluctuation and stay flexible. In busy times, they’ll work tirelessly to meet and exceed your goals. In quiet times, they’ll be available on-call.
8. Outsourced CIOs Stay Ahead of the Competition
Even the most unique startup faces some sort of competition, direct or indirect, and it’s sometimes tough to launch a business when you’re vying for the same audience’s attention as an established company. Outsourced CIOs identify the competition that’s most important to monitor and looks at their technology, IT infrastructure and operations. He figures out how your business can utilize technology more effectively to better serve clients and customers. Good tech can help you not just compete, but it can help you win, and your CIO’s aim is that victory.
9. A Quality Outsourced CIO is an Educator
Without overwhelming you with technical details, your outsourced CIO will teach you what you need to know about your company’s software, hardware, networking, data storage and more. You’ll emerge from his engagement with your company better able to make decisions about technology and to work better with your permanent CIO or IT staff. Furthermore, if there’s any educating necessary to bring your IT department up to speed, your outsourced CIO will make sure they have all the information and resources they need to excel with the tools, plans and processes provided.
10. Outsourced CIOs Exit with Guidance and Grace
Outsourced CIOs know there may be a time when they’re released. This may occur when it’s time for you to hire a full-time CIO, or when you’ve achieved everything you needed to achieve from the guidance of a CIO for a particular stage in your company’s growth. A good outsourced CIO won’t take it personally, but will exit the engagement in a way that ensures all loose ends are tied up and strategies and tactics are in place that can be followed by your team long after he’s gone.
Think your early-stage company is ready for an outsourced CIO? Contact us any time to discuss your needs or jump right into viewing our rates and packages. You can also find out more about services at our CIO Outsourcing and Advisory page.