In the last blog post, I spoke about the increasing number of requests I hear from small and medium-sized enterprises who are looking for a more strategic IT manager and why they end up hiring such a person.
In this blog post, I speak about the barriers I hear from the same company to getting a CIO – that strategic IT manager – and how to think about bring this role on board without breaking the bank.
[A] It costs too much to have such a person.
Not if you scope the role appropriately! At your company-size you don’t need someone who spends 40 hours a week thinking about your strategic technology needs … especially when it is not core to your business. And in that case it’s likely not the right place to put that kind of investment anyway.
In which case you should be thinking about a part-time advisor. Perhaps there is a day or two per week when you are building up your company, and then a day a month when you get to the maintenance phase. Either way, you may want to consider getting a CIO on retainer.
[B] I have my brother, cousin, friend who advises me on IT.
Here’s the thing about the technology field … there are so many domains within the industry. There’s Networking, IT Security, Software development, Hardware maintenance, Outsourcing strategy, Project management, and on and on and on. Most ICT professionals specialise in one or two of these areas. So the likelihood that your brother-cousin-friend has knowledge of more than one or two of these areas is low. All too often those of us in the technology field hear people say “Oh, you are in IT? Then come and help me with my laptop” when frankly, many of us don’t know the first thing about laptops because we’re too busy involved in networks or software or security or products or one of the other domains.
A CIO on the other hand has a different kind of specialty – they have to know a lot about all these areas. And specifically they have know how to to cobble them together for your business.
So my advise to you, is to find the technology professional who can truly advise you about all the aspects of IT for your business. If that’s your brother-cousin-friend, great! If not, get the right person. In the long run, you won’t get the benefits if you do not have the right role.
[C] Let me get things going first
This is also, interestingly enough, often not the optimal approach. You certainly can do it and there may be good reason to, but consider that having the advice early on how to use technology to grow and optimize your business could actually make getting things going easier, faster or cheaper.
So perhaps, instead of letting these blockers take resident, consider hiring a part-time CIO resource to at least advise you on what technology can, and should do, for your small or medium-sized business.