There’s a reason so many businesses turn to virtual CIOs and external IT consultants to manage their technology needs. In addition to the often unrealistic cost of sourcing, hiring, training, and growing an in-house team, outsourcing your IT management makes sense from a customization perspective.
There are definite benefits to hiring an in-house IT staff, but it’s not a reasonable expense for every company. Often, SMBs (and even enterprises) hire entry-level IT administrators just to keep things running, a bandage approach, but these junior-level employees don’t have the subject level expertise to help businesses beef up their defenses, and are unlikely to make proactive suggestions and implement the right level of technology for your business needs.
A virtual CIO like 3Qube Consulting, on the other hand, can provide flexibility and cost-savings that vastly outweigh the benefits of in-house staff in the early years of a new company — plus, as you scale up, you can adjust your IT service to flex with your business.
Benefits of Working with a Virtual CIO or IT Consultant
Outsourcing your IT management to a virtual CIO or consultant has many benefits, chief among them ease of use and cost savings. These contract professionals can:
- Save your business money by tailoring your contract to your precise needs and sparing you the overhead of in-house staff.
- Provide niche expertise on a wide range of IT issues, rather than offering either a broad understanding or a single specialty (as an entry-level IT administrator might).
- Scale with your business, adding services or personnel to align their offerings with your changing business needs.
Once you’ve decided that outsourcing your IT management is the right choice for your organization, the next step is to figure out which consultant or virtual CIO is right for you.
How to Choose a Virtual CIO
In order to reap the benefits of this business relationship, you’ll want to make sure you’re working with a partner who understands your unique needs and has the necessary experience to meet them.
The first (and arguably most important) thing you’ll need to decide is whether you want to go with a local consultant or an offshore one.
An offshore consultant is based in another country from the one where your business operates. Offshore partners are often considered to be cheaper than local services, but prices in common offshore locations like China and India have actually been going up in recent years.
Still, you may find that an offshore virtual CIO or consultant is a better fit for your budget — but be prepared to make certain trade-offs for those cost savings. Culture, language, and infrastructure differences between their country and yours can cause consistency issues, and the politics of some offshore locations can also lead to problems.
Plus, if your chosen consultant breaches your contract or doesn’t fulfill the terms of the service you’ve already paid for, getting recompense will likely be more expensive and difficult than it’s worth.
So-called ‘nearshore’ locations — countries that are closer to the U.S., or wherever you’re doing business — are gaining in popularity, currently accounting for 40% of global IT consulting services, because they’re less likely to come with timezone issues or political strain. But many of the drawbacks to offshore outsourcing still apply.
Local or onshore IT consultants, on the other hand, are located within the same country as your business, operating on the same or or a close-by timezone, under the same regulations and practices, and in the same language. In addition to the communication benefits and ease of contact, local consultants (especially those in the same city as your business) offer the ability to meet in person or visit your company to assess your infrastructure.
Because communication and collaboration are so much easier, projects often take less time to finish, as they don’t need to go through as many clarifying iterations, and adjustments to service levels are often more straightforward.
And, perhaps most importantly, onshore partners are all beholden to the same laws and oversight, making it much easier to pursue legal action if something goes wrong — and less likely that it will.
The decision, like most choices, will come down to a cost-benefit analysis. Research some IT partners around the world and see who fits your budget best. You might be surprised to find that some onshore consultants aren’t so expensive after all. Once you have a handful of options, consider the pros and cons of outsourcing locally versus offshore.
When you’ve narrowed your search down to a handful of consultants who are all within your budget and seem likely to be able to meet your business’s technology needs, you can dig a little deeper into the more nuanced differences between them.
The best way to find the right fit is to interview each candidate. For help deciding what questions to ask, check out our upcoming blog post, “Questions to Ask When Selecting a Virtual CIO.”