Aaron Swann has been a member of InfoSystems' team of experts for 22 years and has worn a variety of hats during his career-engineer, technician, business management, to name a few. He has had a variety of experiences over the course of his career. In this blog, he will discuss some of the common issues customers seem to face that lead them to need a virtual CIO (or "vCIO") like that offered by InfoSystems.
DIY: A Technology No-No
The top issues my customers face stem from lack of an IT department and individuals who have no IT training. These companies are led by MBA's, Architects, and Doctors-very intelligent people who are well trained-just lacking formal training in IT. They are fantastic at their job(s) and their business, but they are trying to do IT in their spare time. When they call me, they are tired and frustrated; maybe something has gone wrong or they finally got sick of spending so much time doing something they didn't go to school for.
"Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen" Syndrome
A lot of times, new customers have had several people on-site with their hands in the "IT" bucket-other IT vendors, a friend of the owner, someone's son or cousin. All these people have been brought in with an idea of how to fix a specific issue, yet no one has been properly tasked with looking at the big picture. No one is trying to craft a solution that addresses the businesses needs at a high level.
I've found that most problems come from either a poor design or an overall lack of design. Sometimes, I'll see a variety of disparate products that fix one "broken" thing. Other times, I'll see home solutions plucked right off the Best Buy shelf being repurposed to try to meet business needs.
Competence in Technology is Not Always Enough
Some companies have the IT experience, but their IT department has no business training. Their techs read the trade magazines, have been to school, possess all the proper training and certifications, but they don't know how to translate those skills into solving business problems. What happens when IT guys can't fix the problem that their CEO or CFO wants fixed? That's where a vCIO can help. I can broker a design out of both parties' needs and concerns.
A good example is backup/disaster recovery. Management will say "I want to be able to recover from a disaster." They hand IT the budget and expect you to get proper backup, no questions asked. When I get there, I see a USB hard drive attached to a server. It might back their data up monthly or even weekly, but the USB drive never goes offsite, creating an obvious disconnect. Management provided direction. IT did as they were asked. The problem still isn't solved.
One approach I use is Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) and Recovery Time Objectives (RTO). This starts with visiting with the owners and executives. RPO's and RTO's are tied to investment. The business impact of the anticipated outage and the risk should help us understand the necessary investment required to bring the RPO/RTO down to acceptable levels. If a business requires no loss of data and requires zero time to get systems back up following a disaster, with my help, leadership can understand the investment required to make that happen.
So, don't try to be a one-man show when it comes to your business's IT health. Don't let a sales guy, your friend from high school, and your brother-in-law pull your IT budget in all different directions without looking at the big picture. And certainly don't hesitate to get an assessment from a professional.
These are merely examples of what I've seen as a vCIO. These might not be your stories. In fact, these might not even come close to anything you've ever seen or heard. But there's a lot more to vCIO than what many might think. Give us a call if you're interested in understanding our vCIO offering in greater depth. Or stay tuned for my next blog!