Using a virtual CIO does not have to be a remote individual, often it is a fractional, seasoned executive hired to support an organizational change.  In the past 24 months, more companies have experience executive shift due to M&A, departures, promotions and more leaving a critical gap within IT – THE Leader.  Public Cloud dominance has propelled many organizations to scale and provide services to the edge globally which has increased the need for organizational shift.  More applications pushed to cloud with processes and teams to support the business has forced many CIOs to dive into a company then depart.

What is a Virtual CIO

A virtual CIO fulfills the role usually during a gap in leadership for a company on a temporary basis.  Many smaller organizations have started to use this model for permanent part-time/fractional CIOs to support growth without the FTE cost of a fully onboarded individual.


What areas can a virtual CIO impact in your business?

  1. Employee Retention:  The Great Resignationis upon tech at an alarming rate for many verticals and the departure of a CIO (where all of the tech teams ultimately report to) can send shockwaves.

In an age of digital transformation, high growth and intense competition, many job roles are being virtualized. This new kind of job role is gaining traction as a cost-effective way to provide smaller companies with the senior experience and expertise of an executive role including CEO, CTO, or CIO

Advantages of a Virtual CIO

  1. Immediate technical executive who can impact an organization real-time.  A vCIO has experience in the technology and operational requirements to scale an organization quickly.
  2. The option to evaluate the vCIO prior to hiring them.  Some companies will strike an agreement with the “right to hire” option if there is a mutual fit.
  3. Costs can be predictable and lower without the need to add benefits, bonuses and other perks a CIO would typically receive.

Disadvantages of a Virtual CIO

Adding an executive to any organizations on a fractional or temporary basis can put a strain on a team.  Culturally, individual contributors become uncertain of the goals moving forward if a vCIO is hired to support the organization?  No matter what most IT teams say, change is not always embraced and is often hard.  A Virtual CIO must understand the concerns the tech organization often have which is very normal.

  1. Will this person help me achieve results on our projects?
  2. Do they have my personal development top of mind?
  3. Who will replace this person?
  4. Is there a problem in our business the real reason why we have a virtual CIO?

How much does a Virtual CIO Cost?

An employed full-time executive CIO can vary in cost depending on the size of the company and scope of the role.  It’s important to note, the CEO and Board must critically evaluate the organizational growth factors and what is required to maintain the business functioning securely.  The salary range can start out at $150K for smaller to mid-size companies reach up to $500K for larger enterprises.  This does not include benefits, bonuses and other imbedded employee costs.

A vCIO hourly cost usually begins at $200/hour and increases higher depending on the same factors mentioned previously (scope of the role, organizational size, growth etc.).  Some virtual CIOs can come with a retainer package option for a set monthly cost ranging from $3K-11K per month.  Which option is the right approach?  Every situation is unique and should be evaluated as such.  For example, your organization just announced the CIO will depart the business in 30 days and based on experience, replacing that individual will be a minimum of 90 days (30-60 day search/interview & offer + acceptance & notice for someone to leave a current role).  Does it make sense to retain a vCIO to keep the organization focused, running and preparing a “handover” plan to the incoming CIO?  If so, should you lock in someone for 90 days at a flat rate or variable one to keep the lights on?  All questions and circumstances necessary to answer based on your company’s progress/goals over that 90 day period.

A subscription service (monthly recurring) is even harder to calculate, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $2k to $10k a month, depending on the size of your organization, the services you want, and many other factors.

If your business is growing quickly, you’re going to need to do quite a bit of technology planning to make sure that your IT infrastructure keeps up, not to mention your security protection.

How does Macronet Services work with vCIOs?

There have been many indirect instances where we fulfill some or all duties as virtual CIO temporarily to assist global organizations.  Our goal is to sheperd an organization toward their desired outcome, often a permanent full-time executive CIO.  Several areas during the “gap” of leadership, Macronet can support the following based on our years of experience and deep bench of professionals:

  1. OPEX reduction while improving functionality
  2. Vendor Contract Negotiations
  3. Operating models with other C-level
  4. Technology Roadmap & Evaluation
  5. Staff Augmentation & referral of a permanent CIO
  6. Training
  7. Security Outlines
  8. other


Contact us about our virtual CIO program to learn more