What Is a Fractional CIO?

When it becomes necessary to scale your business, having the level of IT expertise you need can be quite advantageous. Large companies usually have in-house IT management professionals in various technical specialties. However, many small and medium-sized businesses do not have the operational or financial means to invest in a full-time CIO.

Many smaller businesses hire a fractional CIO to maintain IT leadership while reducing costs. So what is a fractional CIO, and what do they do?

What Is a Fractional CIO?

A CIO, or Chief Information Officer, is an executive officer in charge of information processing in an organization. Technology roadmaps, security, systems design, data center operations and development generally fall under a CIO’s jurisdiction. 

A fractional CIO provides these same services, just on a part-time basis. This is a significant benefit to SMBs who otherwise could not afford a full-time information technology leader.

CIOs are increasingly involved in creating business opportunities through innovation and information technology. They also often work on business development within an organization. Traditional CIOs are usually also working members of a company’s executive management team. 

Fractional CIOs typically engage with several companies at once. As a result, they may or may not function in the day-to-day management of your company’s IT staff.

Fractional vs. Virtual vs. Interim CIOs

You may have thought that the words “fractional,” “virtual” and “interim” relating to CIOs were interchangeable terms. However, while it may seem that they are more or less the same, there are differences:

  • Fractional CIOs: Provide IT leadership on a part-time or casual basis
  • Virtual CIOs: Provide IT leadership, but remotely rather than in-person
  • Interim CIOs: Provide IT leadership for a specific time period, often to cover an unexpected leadership gap or to oversee a particular project

The type of CIO you need can vary depending on your circumstances, so it’s wise to understand how these positions differ from each other.

Fractional CIO vs. Help Desk Services

“Do I need a fractional CIO, or can I get by with an outsourced help desk?”

Don’t make the mistake in thinking that IT leadership and IT support are the same. 

While both are managed IT services and critically important in a successful business, they are not equivalent. 

An IT service desk offers technical troubleshooting and end-user support, whereas IT leadership provides the rudder that steers the company’s long-term technology strategy.

9 Benefits of Hiring a Fractional CIO

  1. Saves you money over hiring a full-time CIO. 
  2. Closes leadership gaps, offering years of knowledge and experience
  3. Offers an unbiased perspective on your business processes
  4. Provides strategic direction to align technology goals
  5. Gives your business a competitive advantage by identifying outdated systems
  6. Establishes technology best practices to keep you compliant
  7. Offers advice on hardware and software purchases, keeping IT spending in check
  8. Collaborates with company leadership to solidify business objectives  
  9. Develops, coaches and mentors IT staff

When Is It Time to Invest in Professional IT Services? 

When You Have An IT Leadership Gap

If your company has experienced growing – or shrinking – pains, you may suddenly find yourself without experienced IT leadership. A skills gap is the difference between your employees’ skills and your business needs.

Sustainable, long-term growth demands that you close that gap to meet your business goals and remain competitive. A fractional CIO can provide expert IT direction, decreasing stress on in-house IT department staff.

When You Need a Strategic Direction

Internal IT teams often lack the ability or foresight to develop a technological roadmap that creates strategic growth for your company. Having an experienced fractional CIO’s view improves innovation, market opportunities and effectiveness, both long and short-term. 

When You’re Worried About IT Security

If you’re not worried about your IT security, you probably should be. However, with the rise in malware and ransomware attacks, you can never be too careful about implementing necessary cybersecurity measures. An experienced fractional CIO can create a robust cybersecurity program that will help reduce risks and bolster employee and customer confidence.

When You’re Budget-Conscious

Fractional CIOs are excellent choices for businesses that need IT leadership on a budget. 

Part-time expertise gives you the benefits of a high-level executive at a fraction of the cost, ensuring you’re getting the biggest bang for your IT investment bucks.

Helixstorm: Future-Focused Professional IT Services 

Could your business benefit from hiring a fractional CIO? We bet it could. Professional IT services enable businesses of all sizes to implement advanced IT solutions easily.

When you partner with Helixstorm, our technology experts enable you to advance confidently in an increasingly complex marketplace. We put relationships first — that’s why we’ve worked with some of our clients for more than a decade. Getting to know you and your goals is the “secret sauce” that enables us to create winning business strategies.

Contact Helixstorm to learn more about how our professional IT services can pave the way for a solid technology strategy today.