Saturday May 15, 2004

Part-Time CIO vs. Temporary CIO

by Jay F. Davis,

As I've been musing about how to define my part-time CIO service it became clear that one way to describe a part-time CIO is to talk about the difference between a part-time CIO and a temporary CIO. The difference is mostly due to scale. A temporary CIO is needed when the full-time CIO for a large company leaves or is temporarily unavailable, or when a very large IT project needs to be closely managed for a short time and there is no CIO in place to do it.

A part-time CIO, on the other hand, is usually a longer-term solution for smaller companies that do not yet have their own IT departments, usually because the company's IT expenditures do not warrant an executive salary other than the CEO.

This is an important distinction because when I peruse other part-time CIO service descriptions on the web, it's clear that most of them describe temporary CIOs, not part-time CIOs. I focus on being a part-time CIO. Here's how that focus is different from a temporary CIO:

  • Business Size. A part-time CIO deals with growing businesses that do not yet have their own IT departments and often do not have any IT staff. This means that IT issues are, for the most part, undiagnosed. The part-time CIO must act as an educator and enabler to teach IT fundamentals.
  • Project Scale. A part-time CIO must understand well the scaling issues for small vs. large IT projects. A topic as simple as workstation backup illustrates this well. In a large organization, a backup server would be employed to backup data volumes automatically at night. However, in a small company this may simply cost too much to implement. A low-tech alternative such as two or three portable hard disk drives and a backup schedule for each employee might better suit the situation.
  • Prioritization. A part-time CIO must understand that small business IT priorities can be significantly different from those of larger businesses with big IT departments. For a large company that does its business via the web, the internet infrastructure of the company is mission critical for the business: down time means lost revenue. For a smaller company, down time usually just means decreased efficiency. So, the priority should be on driving growth rather than on insuring 100% network up-time.

These are just a few examples, but they show that it could be very important to find a consultant that focuses on being a part-time CIO rather than a temporary, full-time CIO.


Above article Last updated: 26 November 2004 09:13:29 AM

Flickr Photo Demo: Jay's Photos
jayduck_99's items Go to Jay's photostream


We use MxGuardDog spam filtering.