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How to manage IT in a growing business: Appointing a CIO

Jonathan McCormick, COO of Intermedia | April 12, 2016
Part 2 of a 3 part series on how IT matures as companies grow

Although vendor-written, this contributed piece does not promote a product or service and has been edited and approved by the editors.

Timing is everything when hiring a CIO. The primary function of a CIO is to be forward-looking for developing and implementing IT initiatives, but it can be difficult for a CIO to fulfill this duty if he or she is brought in too late and provided with inadequate technologies and processes. The earlier a company invests in a CIO, the earlier everyone can be in tune with what will make the business most efficient. But most companies don’t know when it’s too early and when it’s too late.

In the first article of this three-part series on the IT Lifecycle, I discussed recommendations for when to hire an IT consultant, and what to consider when doing so. During this process, it’s important to recognize when a CIO will be a valuable addition. In this second part of the series, I will continue to follow Joe’s Widget Shop, a hypothetical software development company, as they move onto the next stage in the IT lifecycle. I’ll provide you with insight on what to look for when appointing a CIO and what a strong CIO embodies.

When the timing’s right

Joe is aware that a common mistake smaller companies make is investing in a full-time employee — who’s not a CIO — to run the technological and operational needs of a business. If you identify that your company’s IT performance isn’t running as efficiently as it should be – i.e. systems are crashing, collaboration is lacking and, as a result, sales are impacted negatively – you’re already late in bringing on a CIO. As executives may not be aware of the best systems and best techniques for reporting on the success of various technologies and processes that have been implemented, a CIO can fill this void.

Joe understands that if he reaches the 100-employee marker and his company isn’t performing as efficiently as it should be, he will need to re-evaluate his company’s operational needs and hire a CIO. Joe hopes to hire a CIO at around the 50-employee mark, as soon as the budget is right.

A CIO will hunt down the most compatible software-as-a-service (SaaS) products for the company, understand integrations between these SaaS products, and evaluate what the needs are for the business as a whole. Without a CIO, Joe knows that there’s a good chance the company will have implemented solutions on a case-by-case basis, or at the request of certain employees, which will ultimately lead to a hodgepodge of solutions that either don’t work well together, double-up on functionality, or cost more in man-hours to maintain – all major inhibitors to business growth. If you solve individual needs along the way, you end up trying to patch things together down the road, and that’s no easy feat.

 

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