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Build a Virtual CIO Engagement Playbook

Elevate your IT service from trusted technology operator to strategic technology partner.

  • Decision challenges: The service provider does not know what duties to package up in a virtual CIO engagement or isn't sure if they have a team qualified to perform those functions.
  • Description challenges: The service provider is not talking to the right stakeholders about a strategic engagement offering. They may also be struggling to articulate the value of this role.
  • Definition challenges: The terms of the agreement that define the engagement are vague, leading to scope creep and eroding the value and ability to scale the service.
  • Delivery challenges: Every client is special and unique, and virtual CIOs are struggling to approach the service in a consistent way, preventing them from scaling the service to more than just a handful of clients.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • A virtual CIO is still a CIO in form and function. They must, however, perform this function in a way that is repeatable and scalable across a variety of clients. With a tight service definition and a clear execution plan, a virtual CIO can address client uniqueness within the engagement without customizing how the engagement is delivered.
  • Virtual CIO is not just a label for a quarterly sales prospecting meeting. The virtual CIO is an acting chief information officer of the client’s organization. While there are changes in how the job is executed on a day-to-day basis, the full scope of what a CIO is responsible for is not reduced just because the resource is not full-time.
  • When your pitch is consistent, the delivery of the service can also remain consistent. A service-based offering is successful on its own merit and does not need to rely on the individual heroics of seasoned staff. (You can still hire heroes … they need to eat too.)
  • Not all clients are good fit for a fractional service model. Save yourself from a bad long-term relationship by planning an onboarding engagement. This engagement will allow you to demonstrate your value as a strategic partner and set the stage and scope for a future retainer – or you’ll learn that the client isn’t a good fit and avoid a sour exit.
  • While the functions of a CIO do not change in a fractional engagement, the approach to fractional delivery must. Your delivery needs to have a defined execution plan that includes metrics of success, deliverables, and a schedule of set engagements throughout. When your virtual CIOs deliver a consistent engagement structure to all their clients, it simplifies their delivery and they can address more clients.

Impact and Result

  • Determine your ability to offer a virtual CIO engagement.
  • Refine your pitch and target the value to the right stakeholder.
  • Tighten up your service agreement terms and properly onboard your new customers into your service offering.
  • Use our tools to bring consistency to your delivery and scale out your offering.

Build a Virtual CIO Engagement Playbook Research & Tools

Start here – read the Executive Brief

Read our concise Executive Brief to examine the current IT service provider market space, review Info-Tech’s methodology for developing a virtual CIO service offering, and understand the four ways we can support you in completing this project.

1. Decide on the service scope

The functions that a small-business CIO provides don't change when performed fractionally. Assess your client-facing staff's ability to offer these services, and seek opportunities for other advisory engagements.

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About Info-Tech

Info-Tech Research Group is the world’s fastest-growing information technology research and advisory company, proudly serving over 30,000 IT professionals.

We produce unbiased and highly relevant research to help CIOs and IT leaders make strategic, timely, and well-informed decisions. We partner closely with IT teams to provide everything they need, from actionable tools to analyst guidance, ensuring they deliver measurable results for their organizations.

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After each Info-Tech experience, we ask our members to quantify the real-time savings, monetary impact, and project improvements our research helped them achieve.

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A blueprint is designed to be a roadmap, containing a methodology and the tools and templates you need to solve your IT problems.

Each blueprint can be accompanied by a Guided Implementation that provides you access to our world-class analysts to help you get through the project.

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Fred Chagnon


  • Kishor Bagul, Founder, Executive Advisor, and eCXO, Cloud and Things Inc.
  • Michael Ball, Founder, Team CISO
  • Rick Bawcum, Founder & CEO, Cimatri
  • Chris Bedel, President & CEO, Bedel Security
  • Iain Gardner, Director & Principal Consultant, Dataflux (Pty) Ltd.
  • Matt Giarratani, Senior Vice President & CISO, Win Win Consulting LLC.
  • John Halliday, Freelance Technology Governance Specialist
  • Alvin McBorrough, Founder & Managing Partner, OGx
  • Ken Monblatt, Vice President of Consulting, Tilson Technology Management
  • Ken Muir, vCISO, LCM Security Inc.
  • Denes Purnhauser, Founder & Executive Board Member, Managed Services Platform
  • Myles Olson, Chief Revenue Officer, Managed Services Platform
  • Carlotta Sage, CEO & Principal Consultant, Tulle Software & Services LLC.
  • Adam Walter, Founder & Co-Owner, Virtual C Inc.
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