What is a vCIO and why do SMEs need them to thrive?

Gary Pica of TruMethods

The pandemic forced many small and medium-sized companies to rethink their business plans and the technologies they use. The hybrid and remote workforce has spawned technology challenges, including cross-team collaboration and vulnerabilities. Additionally, says Gary Pica, founder and president of TruMethods, a Kaseya company, many businesses are now evaluating regulatory issues and boosting cybersecurity measures.

All of this can be difficult to navigate without an experienced IT leader. That’s where a virtual chief information officer (vCIO) can help.

A vCIO can provide organisations with the expertise of a C-suite executive identifying challenges, assessing and implementing new technology and helping the organisation maintain compliance. While hiring a vCIO may be more cost-effective for many small and medium-sizes enterprises (SMEs), there’s another way a vCIO solution.

vCIO solution

SMEs and internal IT teams can both benefit from teaming with a managed service provider (MSP) to leverage a vCIO solution. An internal IT team only has the perspective of their organisation’s technical environment, but an MSP works with multiple clients and can bring a broader view and a proven vCIO process that yields predictable results. They also know the secure solutions and technologies that should be adopted because chances are that they’ve had another client that struggled with the same issues.

Amidst new security threats and a changing economy, business leaders are looking to their MSPs for guidance on how to navigate the rapidly evolving landscape and to ensure they can keep pace. 

Strategic and operational relationship

An effective vCIO solution allows MSPs to analyse technical environments, establish standards, make business recommendations, track feedback and most importantly, develop custom, strategic roadmaps geared to a company. The relationship is more strategic and operational, rather than technical it goes beyond making suggestions on replacing outdated technology, renewing licenses, and updating back-up systems.

A vCIO platform helps an MSP analyse business needs and make recommendations as a trusted business partner rather than just someone giving advice on hardware upgrades and software updates. They can help their clients remain competitive, optimise their spend and maintain compliance.

When considering a vCIO solution, there are factors to keep in mind. First, a mature vCIO process has two main components technology alignment and knowledge of the business. There needs to be established technical standards in one centralised platform that lines up with the customer’s environment. Alignment reviews are the building blocks of the vCIO process every piece of technology needs to be evaluated to ensure nothing is misaligned. 

An understanding of a client’s business is also key so that knowledge, along with the alignment information, can translate into meaningful recommendations that result in building a strategic roadmap. A roadmap tracks projects, budgets, and timelines, and helps clients fully grasp their technology needs.

Strategic roadmap

An effective vCIO solution will offer a broader perspective and guide the process through alignment, recommendations, and the strategic roadmap stages. As a result, MSPs will be able to provide clients with a comprehensive outlook on their business, rather than just making recommendations on day-to-day IT matters. 

To ensure business continuity and accelerate digital transformation, small and medium-sized businesses should invest in vCIO technologies. MSPs are uniquely positioned to strategically partner with clients to not only manage IT infrastructure, but also streamline operations and act as a trusted and valued partner to the customers they serve.

The author is Gary Pica, founder and president of TruMethods, a Kaseya company.

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