For many small- and medium-sized businesses, IT planning is a major area that could be improved. There are many ways that a large corporation would handle these planning needs, but the primary individual responsible for effective future planning in this case is a Chief Information Officer – or CIO. For smaller entities, a virtual CIO, or vCIO, may be more appropriate.
What is a CIO?
Wikipedia defines CIO as “the most senior executive in an enterprise who works with information technology and computer systems, in order to support enterprise goals”. Essentially, this is a person in charge of strategic planning for the business in the IT realm. This role can, at times, be blurred with a Chief Technology Officer, who holds a similar role that may vary depending on the company.
This is great for those companies large enough to employ full-time resources to this. But what about the smaller fish in the pond?
What is a vCIO?
A vCIO—“virtual” CIO—is a good stand in for small- and medium-sized businesses. This can take many forms, from a consulting service to a provided service from a Managed Services Provider. Some businesses delegate these tasks to an individual employee, as well.
For those without an appropriate internal resource, it is helpful to have an IT professional step in and provide short- and longer-term goals, planning, and budget recommendations.
It goes without saying, but we’ve all heard the adage “Failure to plan is planning to fail”. While the saying is a bit stark, there is also much truth to it. This is especially so for a critical system or function within a business. A golf course with an aging irrigation system has little way to support the grounds with no way to water the grass. When the system breaks, and if no budget has been allotted, this will often be a very disruptive issue. A similar scenario could apply to a radio station with an out-of-date audio console, or a bus operator with an older vehicle, or a million other scenarios.
The bottom line…while failure to plan may not always lead to failure, it will likely lead to disruption.
This thinking of course also applies to the IT that runs most companies. Waiting for things to fail in IT is generally referred to as a “break/fix” approach, and for obvious reasons is less than ideal. Bigger ticket items such as compliance, servers, or network architecture can bring a company to a standstill. Smaller items, such as workstations can greatly hinder an individual’s productivity. A vCIO can help with this.
Planning, both tactical and strategic, should be done by a person with appropriate IT experience, foresight, and an ear on future trends. No one can predict the future, but understanding current trends could be the difference between a local or cloud-based server architecture, choosing network speed capabilities, or innumerable other possibilities. Proper planning avoids the “break/fix” disruptions to productivity and profitability, increasing readiness for when something goes wrong, but, importantly, preparing so that things go right.
What is an IT Business Review?
An important aspect to strategic planning is the vehicle by which that planning occurs. Periodic emails may express the proper information, but may not have proper impact. Conference calls can be effective, if the proper Executives are available. We find that the most effective manner to communicate the information needed is via a vCIO leading an Information Technology Business Reviews (ITBRs).
These may look different between customers. A small, single-workstation customer will likely have more limited planning needs than a larger business with several hundred seats. As such, ITBR resource allocation will likely be different. But the nature of the meeting likely won’t change very much, as, while the scale may change, the basic topics of discussion—from security to future plans to budgeting, among many other topics—are not terribly different.
Why does YOUR business want an IT Business Review?
If you have complete perspective of your business’s IT, whether through extensive knowledge on your behalf or an experienced IT professional in your business’s employ, then you indeed may not need a formal Business Review. However, it is important to be truthful with one’s self about the experience, time, and view of your IT available to you.
It is most often the case for small- and medium-sized businesses that the Executive level officers do not have a sufficient view of their IT (for a variety of reasons). And, frankly, even those who do may benefit from a fresh perspective.
How do you get an IT Business Review scheduled with us?
While an IT Business Review can be scheduled with anyone in a consulting framework, starting in January 2021 we will begin rolling out an IT Business Review plan for all customers on our monitoring plans. If you would like your business benefit from this immense value-add, then LET’S TALK! Not only will you benefit knowing that your business is in good hands with regards to IT, you will gain a more broad perspective and understand how your IT should work for you now and in the future, lead by an experienced vCIO vision.