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VICO: IT Strategy Review Process

On this episode of Tech Tuesday, Dave Hodgon from PCG talks with John Maher about the Virtual Chief Information Officer (VCIO) strategy review process. He explains how the VCIO process works and looks at how it helps companies understand their short and long-term tech needs.

John Maher: Welcome to Tech Tuesday brought to you by PCG, a managed IT services company in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I’m John Maher. With me today from PCG is Dave Hodgdon. Welcome, Dave.

Dave Hodgdon: Good morning, John. Another beautiful day for Tech Tuesday.

What Is a VCIO Strategy?

John: Absolutely. So Dave, today, we’re talking about the VCIO IT strategy review process. What is that or what is the process of VCIO and IT strategy?

Dave: I think of this, John, as the high level. This is the leadership team at the business having a seat at the table. It’s, from our end, taking a high look at what needs to be done for this business to be more productive, to be more efficient, to make more money, to secure my network.

Again, VCIO stands for virtual chief information officer, it’s a term a lot of managed service providers do, but we just bake it down to the IT strategy. What are our problems? What are our goals? Are we trying to make an acquisition? Are we adding new employees? Are there particular things that you feel you’re not getting? Is there a new line of business application? Do we need better security or different software, John?

In today’s world, one of the big things we’ve noticed and you’ve seen in the restaurant is bringing that tablet to the table. The ability to have that client experience right then at the table, take the order, expedite your payments. But the big problem in the past was not having wireless there. So we find that if you ask those questions, you have the ability to help that customer gain that competitive edge to make more money.

Why Do Business Leaders Need VCIO Strategies?

John: Why is it that business management or leadership really needs this?

Dave: Well, they need to be engaged. They ultimately have a business plan. They’re speaking like small businesses of families, John. There’s always issues. We’re there to keep their technology running, but if we don’t know what makes things tick, it’s difficult for us to make recommendations. We need to understand where they want to go in the next one, three, five years.

Are they doing acquisitions? Are they, as I said, looking at a new line of business application? Do they need better wireless? Are there some compliancy things they need to meet? If we’re not hearing from them, it’s difficult for us to help guide them. We’re here to give them better experience, secure their network, but ultimately get them more effective and efficient, and make more money. So it’s important the leadership team meets with us a couple of times a year. High level, just what are we looking to do? They don’t care about the day-to-day stuff. My TZ specs, what firewalls in place, those 365 accounts. They just want things to work, but we need them to let us know what makes the business tick so we can help them with that technology.

Questions During the IT Strategy Review

John: And what types of questions do you ask during the IT strategy review process and what should a company be asking you?

Dave: What’s keeping them up at night? What’s worrying them? What would they like? A lot of times, it’s not all related to IT. It could be my website. I wish I had a better website. I’m having a difficult time with my CRM, my sales product. I’m having a difficult time keeping employees.

I’m having issues with what I’m worrying about what my employees are doing from home. What’s my remote workforce policy? Why do I need cyber insurance? They don’t even know what’s included in the cyber insurance, but we can review that on their behalf. So again, we want to keep it from a high level, John, the goals, the issues, and ultimately, how are we going to make more money.

The Advantages of PCG’s VCIO Process

John: And what do you feel like are the differentiators that PCG offers in terms of this VCIO process over other companies?

Dave: Well, I feel the most important part, we understand what the VCIO processes or what the client needs, but bringing it all together in a program, we invested in, John, to actually track this. So it gives us the ability for asking the questions, taking the information from each of the… Because when you send out what we call the business insights, the goals, the issues, what’s keeping you up at night, we send it to the whole leadership team. We collect that data and then together, we have a group on that.

And over time now, we’re seeing their problems. That gives us the information. Now, we review their network. Where are we lacking on the network that I need tablets, I want wireless everywhere. Well, you can have a wireless network. We need wiring. So, we now have the ability to create this roadmap. We have the ability to take their information they want, John, come up with a budget. In today’s world, you can’t do everything, but if you have a roadmap and a budget, we can put it on for 2022 or 2023. It gives them the ability to plan, putting their financial budget of things they need.

Roadmap and Budgets for VCIO Strategies

John: Can you tell me a little bit more about that roadmap and budget, and how that works?

Dave: Sure. I think having a blueprint, John, is the key to everything. And again, one of our differentiators is that it’s nice to know that if we have a full audit of their network, we know what they’re trying to do. This allows us now that over the next year, you need to replace eight machines. You want the ability to add various stuff to your security policy. You want to improve your compliance. You want to add wireless.

You want to have all notebooks for your employees, you want to have a video conferencing room. We’re looking at a new line of business application, should it stay on premise or the cloud? My servers are aging, can we get them out of the building right now? My contract’s coming up from my copy or my Internet service. These are all things that you get to eat. If you’re constantly knowing what’s on the table, it allows our team to help them because you have the ability to save money with our vendors, we’re able to negotiate a better Comcast. We need to know when that contract is going to be up so we can start from it, John.

How Often Should Businesses Do a VCIO Strategy Review?

John: And how often should you go through this VCIO IT strategy review process?

Dave: I think it depends on the size of the client, John, and how much technology is going on. Smaller clients, one or two times a year. Larger clients, every quarter kind of because things change. Last year, we had a lot of plans in place, but we put them on hold when the COVID hit.

We weren’t spending money on the infrastructure at the building or putting video conference systems in, we were focused on getting the remote workforce in place. So I think, like anything, most managers meet weekly or monthly internally, just bring the IT into the fold because IT is a key component to everything you do to make more money.

The Time Investment of a VCIO Strategy Review

John: A lot of business owners are busy and they might feel like this might take up too much time. What’s the time investment in terms of doing this strategy review process?

Dave: We need them for about a half hour to an hour each quarter. It takes a little bit of convincing, John, but I think once owners know it’s not about them spending money, they feel a lot of times the meeting is, what do I need to spend money? No, it’s our time to listen to what makes things tick, how they want to make more money.

And then from that point, we have the ability to bring the technology back to them and help them with that roadmap. So, they’re there to run their business. They’re great at that, but our job is to how can technology make the money, make them more productive? And once we know what makes things tick there, we have the ability to bring it to them, and I think they appreciate having that roadmap, having that budget, having someone that can speak to them in English, not on something speaking over their head. I’m a business owner here too. It’s important to speak to me in English, that I get what I need to do.

Biggest Value of the VCIO Process

John: Who do you think the biggest value is that your clients get out of the VCIO process that they might not be able to get if they try to do all of this themselves?

Dave: I think someone that really cares about them, John. They actually now can come up with a plan that a typical business could have hundreds of thousands of IT infrastructure in place. And if you ignore it, it can become very expensive. It’s like you’re doing house repairs. You’re constantly always doing something at your house. And if you ignore it, you and I both know, if there’s a tick or plumbing leak or an issue, if you ignore it, it’s going to get worse.

So our job is to keep them abreast of what’s going on and knowing where their potential vulnerabilities or gaps are, but also understanding what they want to do with their business. And if we know what they want to do, we can bring the technology and budget. We’re going to give them a roadmap, we are going to give them a budget, and I think it becomes very easy for them to plan. And I think the biggest value is just having that, and we’re having a seat at the table. They know that they can rely on us to help them.

VCIO Strategies Bring Peace of Mind

John: Right. And just what’s out in front of you that you can see, it just takes a lot of that relief that people must feel, that business owners must feel when they just know that there’s a plan in place, that they have a team that they’re working with. They can look forward to the future and see what’s coming up.

And when you have unknowns, that’s really scary. You’re just waiting for the next shoe to drop and some big thing is going to happen, and it’s going to take down my network, and then I’m going to be out of business, so that kind of thing. Just the knowledge that you have a team on your side is probably really beneficial for a business owner.

Dave: That’s a great point, John. Just a peace of mind that without a plan, have you had a business plan or not? And if you don’t have a business plan, how do you know where you want to take your technology? So I’m sure they have some form of business plan. We’re going to help them make it into an IT plan. Without a plan, it’s kind of like I’m on a sailboat. I’m just… I have no idea where I’m going. Or I’m in a car, I have no idea where I’m driving to. You need to have a plan.

Our job is to bring the IT in English format to them. How can we make this train continue to move you and make you money? And it’s nice to know, as you said, you get the team behind you and there’s the expertise to help them what they need, to help with their vendors, to help with their staff. A lot of times, when I do my walk-through with my clients, besides talking to the leadership team, I’m always asking the person at the front desk, the person at the backroom, how are things going? What could be better? It’s amazing what they tell you. Then, you can bring that back to the leadership team, and it’s just knowing the right questions to ask, John.

Contact PCG About an VCIO Strategy Review

John: Right. Right. All right. Well, that’s really great information about the IT strategy review process. Thanks again for speaking with me today, Dave.

Dave: My pleasure.

John: And for more information, you can visit the PCG website at pcgit.com or call 6034314121.