While hiring contract CIOs to avoid paying hefty salaries of full-time ones while still reaping the benefits is compelling, it may not be the right decision for every organization.
Organizations across multiple industries have accelerated their digital transformation initiatives at an unprecedented pace. With remote work becoming the new “normal,” the rise of hybrid work, and the explosion of cyber-attacks, organizations have plenty of IT challenges to deal with.
While almost all organizations have their in-house IT team in place, the rising cost of IT infrastructure, along with complexities, as well as a constantly changing and evolving environment, makes it difficult for full-time CIOs to execute their strategies. Also, organizations that have recently lost their CIOs and are not in a position to recruit a new one due to budget concerns are under immense pressure to strengthen their infrastructure. Here, contract CIOs come to the rescue.
IT executives having multiple clients, these CIOs divide their hours as required for their clients, often working as a part-time CIO. Often these executives, having more available time at their hands, took on second executive positions.
While there is no data available indicating how many CIOs are available in this type of setting, they are slowly positioning themselves as established.
For organizations, it provides them with an excellent opportunity to access talent that they may not access on a full-time basis. A fractional CIO can help organizations to transform IT. It provides organizations with an opportunity to promote an internal person then or hire someone externally to take it forward. Both contract and fractional CIO offer an excellent opportunity for organizations to improve their performance of IT.
A member of the executive leadership
Onboarding a secondary CIO can help the existing CIO concentrate on executing strategy and operating the IT department while collaborating with business partners on its expansion plans. Additionally, hiring a contract CIO provides IT with an executive who can make decisions that other less senior IT roles are not a position or have business acumen for it. These secondary CIOs are an active part of the executive team. They are not just providing expertise but also taking accountability for IT.
Helps to establish the bar for IT
Whenever CEOs feel that their IT department is not yielding the desired results, they can seek out a contract CIO. Hiring a contract CIO can help the organization shape its IT strategy. They can help the organization take their IT from a cost center to a profit one while creating measurable value. They can help fill a gap in IT and raise the bar for IT before bringing in the next CIO to take the reins.
The pros and cons of a contract CIO
The strategic importance of advanced technological infrastructure is driving demand for contract CIOs.
With growing compliance and regulation concerns, CIOs have become obligated to have a strategic IT program in place. They want insights that a CIO can give. While knowing they do not require it all the time. A fractional CIO can help them build a roadmap to prioritize IT as well as security.
Also Read: Five Soft Skills Every IT Team Must Possess
For large organizations that had to let go of their CIOs without selecting a new one to realize that the position is too critical to leave vacant. They conclude that they require more executive-level IT talent to assist their present CIOs in navigating particular challenges or initiatives. Such organizations can recruit contract CIOs that have experience in the specific area, so they get the exact skill set they need for the job at hand.
At the same time, there are cons to hiring a contract CIO.
The contract CIOs can provide significant value by acting as advisors to other executives at the organization. But, contract CIOs do not know the organization well enough to understand the challenges and culture.
Some organizations are not always open to taking on suggestions from someone working on a contract basis, while others fail to set the right expectations for contract CIOs resulting in fractured strategies that fail to deliver the desired results.
In such situations, contract CIOs should have open communication with the firm to set the right expectations that ensure success on both sides.
Working as a contract CIO is not for everyone. While it provides the flexibility and allows, they often have to multitask while juggling various clients other than staff CIOs.
Industry experts say that CIOs that look to advance further within the enterprise to COO or CEO, who favor stability over chaos and uncertainty and require more to build relationships, may not be the right candidate for the position.