Interim CIO – What is the best way to hire one?
Companies often contact us because they want to hire an Interim Chief Information Officer (interim CIO) and they are looking for an interim CIO agency. The term CIO is often used by larger businesses, or by business owners who have a background in larger companies.
We generally use the term IT Director as this is has a broader meaning and covers a wider range of skills and backgrounds.
What is an Interim CIO?
An interim CIO will generally be a Board-level position and will normally have the following objectives:
- a robust, secure, trouble-free infrastructure (eg example desktops, email, phones, network, file storage)
- efficient line of business systems including processes, people and technology and everything needed to make this work well (eg training, data standards, documentation)
- deliver digital initiatives which probably encompass customers, partners and suppliers
- ensure compliance and risk management (eg GDPR, PCI, ISO27001).
Click here to download our CIO, CTO, and IT Director Job Description
The breadth of each of these points and the balance between them will depend very much on the nature of your business.
- A larger company on multiple sites with large numbers of people might have complex infrastructure challenges. Poorly designed or poorly managed infrastructure can be expensive, unreliable, difficult to scale and insecure. But these issues are less prevalent than they used to be and infrastructure is often delivered over the cloud.
- Some companies have complicated internal processes so automation, integration and reporting are vital to their success. An effective interim CIO can bring the necessary leadership and clarity to deliver major cost reductions and customer service improvements.
- Digital initiatives can range from simple websites to full digital transformation programmes that fundamentally change how the business is presented to customers, how the business works internally, and how it works with suppliers and partners.
- Compliance and risk challenges vary hugely for companies. For example, do you provide 24/7 critical services; do you manage highly sensitive data; do your clients impose stringent requirements on you; are you in a highly regulated industry? Some businesses have relative simple challenges in this area, others not.
The Right Interim CIO for Your Company’s Strategy
It is critical to establish the balance between the 4 points above and to attract an individual who has a track record in your critical areas.
Your company strategy may be to achieve lower price, better service or both. You may be looking to focus on internal efficiency, or excellent online experience. Or you may just need to overcome specific issues or risks. Before embarking on a search, you should untangle these points so you know the kind of interim CIO you’re looking for.
In addition, there are 2 other fundamental questions:
- Are you looking for someone to envisage and lead major change, or to manage gradual improvements and fix specific issues?
- Are you looking for someone to manage internal teams or external suppliers or both?
There are personality and behavioural differences between people who thrive in situations of major change and those who manage steadier improvements. Similarly, there is a great difference between people who build and enthuse internal teams, and those who manage external suppliers through contracts.
How to Hire an Interim CIO
There are a large number of agencies available for interim CIOs that can be found easily on the web. Senior professionals are very credible so we would advise careful preparation for interview and that you diligently take up references before making any offers.
We advise that you consider the following points in relation to interim CIOs:
- they will rarely want to engage with your company’s culture and values, that is why they have chosen the interim lifestyle
- they have little knowledge of, or interest in, the long-term viability or their work
- once your project is complete they will immediately be seeking a full-time role elsewhere, and they will not be available to you at all
- they may have arrangements with suppliers that they recommend.
We spend a huge amount of our time recruiting the very best CIOs in the business to form our elite team of “fractional CIOs”. Our team are committed to working for our clients for the long-term, on a flexible basis, so during intense periods they can spend the bulk of their time with a client, and during quieter periods then can have a lighter touch to keep the client’s IT on track.
When one of our fractional CIOs joins your senior team then they immerse themselves in your business and aim to be with you for the long-term. We’re completely independent and only recommend the best for you.
There is no lock in to our contracts at all and our clients simply work on a “pay as you go” basis, so our people have to make a difference every day.
We use the term IT Director rather than CIO as it is recognised more broadly in the UK. We use the term fractional rather than interim to emphasise between how we work over the disadvantages of an interim.
If you’d like to discuss in more detail how a fractional CIO can benefit your business, please get in touch via our contact us page or call 0203 020 1864.