As part of an IT strategy for your company, you may need to hire an interim CIO. This position should not be taken lightly. And it’s because interim CIO’s have a lot of power to make important decisions within your company in order to set the stage for the best IT strategy. Interim CIOs always have to be thinking about short-term and long-term IT strategies during their jobs for your company. Yet at the same time, they’re holding the same amount of accountability as a permanent CIO.
So, what should you expect from your Interim CIO? What type of experience, talent, leadership, and innovation? We’re here to give you some advice.
Interim CIO Jobs and Expectations
Why might your company need an Interim CIO?
There are two main reasons that you may be looking to hire an Interim CIO. One possibility is the CIO is no longer with the company and you’re looking to hire someone in the interim while you search for a more long-term solution.
The other reason would be for companies who did not previously have a CIO, but are now seeking an expert to help boost their IT strategies. In this case, the Interim CIO serves more as a consultant. And this person will only be with the company long enough to pass on their IT expertise.
How much experience should your Interim CIO have?
Interim Chief Information Officer is a demanding job with a lot riding on it; as such, you’ll want to make sure that your Interim CIO has a Master’s degree in a related field. In addition, it is wise to choose an Interim CIO with at least 10 years of experience in the field. This does not necessarily have to be as much experience as a Chief Information Officer (although that is certainly a plus). But it should involve experience in information technology leadership work.
You want someone who has a proven track record of providing excellent leadership and insight to both employees and clients. And – depending on your company – someone who has demonstrated that they can think critically on a global information scale.
What should your Interim CIO’s essential duties be?
Regardless of the reason your company is hiring an Interim CIO, his or her duties should be quite similar to that of a long-term CIO. Indeed, many Interim CIO positions are designed to eventually result in long-term employment if all goes well.
Your Interim CIO should report to the CEO, and with that in mind will be your company’s leader in all things IT. This means leading the strategic planning process. Plus, it includes being an integral role in ensuring that your business’ strategic plan operates in alignment to your operational or corporate plan. Within the strategic planning process, your Interim CIO should be planning for both short and long term company IT goals. And, for as long as they are with your company, they’ll check up on those goals and revise as needed. They’ll also provide a technology assessment.
In addition, an Interim CIO should have just as much responsibility as a long-term CIO would in terms of maintaining your company’s IT department. This means making sure that equipment is up to date and all programs and applications are supported and employees have the proper training to use them efficiently. This also means that Interim CIOs must possess the skills, experience, and authority to effectively analyze the most cost-efficient way for your IT department to function. And this would include knowing which resources to use and how to use them to their full extent, and the best and most efficient ways to staff your IT department.
Why you should resist the urge to cut corners when it comes to your Interim CIO
Running a business is expensive, and challenging. We’re right there with you. But hiring a great Interim CIO will save you much more in the long run than it will cost you upfront. Settling for having an “IT Manager” instead of an Interim CIO may seem tempting. And maybe it would seem easier than going through the whole hiring process.
However, hiring someone internally and “promoting” them to save money is often a mistake. The person chosen would not be as qualified as those who would be in the running for Interim CIO. Conducting a hiring process designed to comprehensively evaluate the experience, skills, leadership, and innovative characteristics of candidates is worth the investment of time and money. The end result should be that you find someone who has had many prior successes in this field. And this person can truly be an information technology visionary when it comes to mapping out your company’s IT future. They would be a valuable asset, rather than a liability.
Having a top-notch, forward thinking IT department is one of the most powerful tools your company can have in 2020. Do right by your business and consider the best options for your Interim CIO. And, maybe even more importantly, make sure you know what an Interim CIO position should look like.
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