We Answer Your Top vCIO Questions

managed IT Services

Why do some managed service providers have a vCIO?  Is it essential for your business to partner with a managed service provider (MSP) that offers a vCIO? Not every managed service provider has a vCIO for thier clients, but we find having a vCIO critical to IT support. 

If you are a company that wants to maximize its technology to help grow your business and remain competitive within your industry, having an MSP that will provide you with a vCIO is worth looking into. The vCIO will oversee your entire IT infrastructure and speak to our technicians on behalf of your business to ensure big picture strategy is working with day to day operations. Any decisions on IT can be communicated to our project engineers on your behalf. This helps to keep both parties satisfied and aligned.  In this article, we’ll go over a few of the top questions we often see.


What exactly is a vCIO?

A vCIO is a virtual chief information officer. They oversee and manage all aspects of your IT infrastructure. In most ways, a vCIO is very similar to a CIO (chief information officer). The main difference is a vCIO is provided by outsourcing IT to a managed service provider rather than a CIO who is typically in-house to consult your IT strategies and implementation. 

The vCIO will be in charge of information technology strategy and implementation, and oversee the hardware, software, and data that help other members of the C-suite do their jobs. They will research new technologies and determine what technology can provide your business value. They will also address any current risks associated with your IT and help develop solutions to mitigate them. 


What are the benefits of a vCIO? 

Some of the most prominent benefits include:


Advocate for your service experience

The vCIO will act as an advocate for your business. From a service perspective, the vCIO will look at the current services you’re provided, how tickets are handled, the response time, and the communication with you as the client. The vCIOs role is to manage all of these aspects of your MSP support and service to ensure it is successful for both parties. This helps ensure that communication channels between MSP and your business are open and flowing correctly to ensure your needs are being met.


Assist with IT costs and budgeting

The vCIO ensures that clients are satisfied with everything budgeting-related from the IT side. They will review all your IT expenses and expected IT costs to create a strategic budget for the future. This will help you to avoid any unexpected fees. Your vCIO will ensure you have a sound financial plan and can plan any IT investments accordingly.  


Maintain and enhance cybersecurity

Regarding security and cybersecurity, the vCIO's job is to understand a client's risk tolerance and what they are willing to put in place to maintain or lower that risk. Your vCIO will evaluate your current network and point out any potential vulnerabilities. 

Your vCIO will also ensure employees are trained on cybersecurity best practices to keep your network safe and avoid human error. They will inform you about where your IT should be years in advance to help mitigate any risks. They will also ensure that your business is always one step ahead regarding cybersecurity. Some common mistakes employees make that can increase network vulnerabilities are clicking on phishing emails or downloading files embedded with spyware. Having a team that is aware of cyber threats and knows how to avoid them is critical to the security of your business.  


Manage your IT vendor

Your vCIO will be involved in any decisions regarding your IT infrastructure. Any vendors you bring on for IT must fit your current environment. Your vCIO will work with your company to ensure the product or solution aligns with their other equipment.  

It is essential to look at the bigger picture when implementing any new solution or tool, and your vCIO will help you do this to ensure future success. An example of this would be if your company was working with a new third-party internet service provider. Your vCIO would work with you and look at your budget and the service to make the best decision for your IT environment. 


Define clear IT objectives and strategies for your business.

When you have a vCIO, they will provide you with a roadmap of your IT infrastructure. This roadmap will entail everything in your current infrastructure and any changes you will make in the future. Typically, your vCIO will meet with your business regularly to make strategic decisions and create an IT plan to keep your goals aligned. 

Having a vCIO that can define clear visions of where you want your IT to be in the future is critical to the success of your business. Your vCIO will work with you and your team to ensure you stay on track and hit the goals necessary to maintain an optimized work environment. This will ensure that you constantly enhance your environment and that everything gets done according to a tailored plan for your business.    


Why Do Companies Have a vCIO Instead of a CIO?

Many companies hire a managed services provider, a vCIO, because hiring a CIO can be expensive, especially for small businesses. When you hire a vCIO instead of a CIO employed in-house, your vCIO will be outsourced. Including a vCIO is a more cost-efficient way to have someone who can provide you with the role of a CIO without hiring in-house. Hiring and retaining a CIO can be a significant expense for a smaller company. Still, by outsourcing to an MSP, you will receive full IT support and a vCIO to help navigate and strategize your IT infrastructure.  


What is a Quarterly Business Review?

Typically, you will meet with your vCIO four times a year to discuss your IT infrastructure. The meetings are called quarterly business reviews. In a quarterly business review, you will go through MSP performance, address any potential vulnerabilities in your network, and create a plan to implement any new technology. 

Usherwood relies heavily on quarterly business reviews to ensure our clients are satisfied with our support. These meetings are critical to the success of your business's IT environment and ours as a partner. Quarterly business reviews will allow your business to address any concerns and ensure that you and your MSP have aligned goals by outsourcing to an MSP. To learn more about what the quarterly business review entails, check out this article: What to Expect From a Quarterly Business Review With Your MSP.


Want to see if a vCIO might be a good fit for your business?

At Usherwood, we believe having a vCIO is an essential aspect of IT support.  Businesses with vCIOs can emphasize their IT infrastructures and utilize technology to create a more successful work environment. In the end, it simply will assist your company with better IT management and planning, as well as better overall security. Usherwood wants our clients to be satisfied and confident with the IT element of their business, to ensure nothing but more growth and organization. If your organization is interested in working with a vCIO, we highly recommend doing all the proper research and planning before adding this crucial feature to your business.

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About Darrian Breedlove, Content Writer

Darrian Breedlove is Usherwood's Content Writer. She manages Usherwood's message by integrating educational content into our company culture.