The Virtual / Fractional CIO

The future of your IT Dept.

The role of IT departments has gradually evolved over the years. IT is no longer merely a cog in the wheel. Today, IT is more aligned with business objectives, playing a more integral role in the workplace. In this scenario of shared business-IT objectives and goals, the impact that IT has on the bottom line is huge.   

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.

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The IT department of the future will continue to focus on new technology, new software and hardware and the 'hottest' new skills. But underneath it all, tomorrow's IT departments will emphasize breadth of knowledge, the human connection and increased collaboration, and user satisfaction. 

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