Why you should have your vCIO in your weekly business meeting

One area that can be a challenge to vCIO only business models is getting into the weekly executive business meeting of your clients.  Transforming the client into having more mature thinking when it comes to the role of a vCIO as an executive asset and resource is the topic of this article.  Remember you may be “virtual” or “fractional” but you are still a CIO – Chief Information Officer – an executive.  So how do you present value to your clients to include you in their weekly executive meetings?

Let’s first discuss why your vCIO should be in those meetings and then we will follow up with how you get into those meetings.

  • The vCIO/CIO should be in those meetings because it gives them a heads up on what’s coming in regard to strategy, growth, financials, P&L, ROI, OpEx, CapEx, and TCO*. This is proactive versus reactive thinking so as to not blindside your vCIO/CIO who must then scramble to accommodate decisions that have been discussed and implemented.
  • For strategy, your vCIO/CIO needs to be there to give a heads up regarding IT Operational Planning, IT Infrastructure Planning and IT Project Portfolio Planning.
  • For investments, specifically in the presentation of a Managed Complete IT Budgets, which includes the IT Infrastructure Budget and how it relates to P&L, ROI, OpEx, CapEx, and TCO.
  • For security. Security costs money.  Educating your executives about what is happening in security and the best practices in coping with current threats and challenges is invaluable.
  • Debriefing on what is happening across the organization and providing on the spot education and opportunities for questions is a time-saving asset. Make sure to highlight the company baseline today and visually mapping where it is aspiring to go in the future based upon strategy.
  • For ideas. vCIO/CIO’s bring to the table strategic, proactive thinking and a vision for the future.  They are aware of current trends and where they are leading, and they are aware of what the competitive marketplace looks like.  This can be an invaluable asset to an executive team who needs to pivot or execute a marketing or sales strategy for instance.
  • For a competitive edge.  Your vCIO/CIO can give the company a competitive edge with technology and influence the general strategy of the company.  This includes the tools and ability to educate the company and make sure that stakeholders are able to adopt new technologies successfully.

How do you get into the meetings?

  • Don’t expect to get into them right away. Set expectations by having a one-on-one, phone call, or memo update between you and the CEO.
  • Respect executives time. Sometimes an actual meeting is not possible but a quick phone call or even a short concise email with applicable updates following the rules of, if you present a problem you also have a solution goes a long way.
  • Get on their radar. One of the ways we get on the “radar” of our C-Levels is by providing a weekly “CEO Huddle Memo.”  The weekly huddle memo is the fruit of alignment session with the CEO at a minimum.  Even though the CEO might not be on the team of any given projects, they are involved in the key decisions during the project life cycles, so establishing clear communication lines with weekly huddles to both facilitate the execution as well as keep them informed.
  • Do your homework and be prepared for the meeting.  This means knowing the purpose of your meeting, providing an agenda beforehand or as an outline at the actual meeting.
  • Clarify what is at stake. Hook them from the outset by being proactive and setting aside time to prep for the meeting.  Make sure the meeting is protected.   This includes minimizing interruptions, turning off your phone, not handing them 200-page document in an 8-pt font so they are reading the material instead of listening.
  • I like what The Table Group (Patrick Lencioni**) calls this weekly meeting, a “weekly tactical.” It is 45-90 minutes where you review weekly activities, metrics, resolve tactical obstacles and issues. Make sure to postpone strategic discussions for the larger executive meetings.
  • Do not expect management, employees or staff to be able to articulate why it is important to have this meeting. They will not be able to and can be quickly shut down by an executive if they fumble through it.  You have to set this tone (regular and consistent meetings) from the beginning of the relationship.  Otherwise, it is a bear to come back later and try to get into those meetings without sounding like your “begging” or “pleading,” remember you are an executive too and your time is just as valuable as theirs.

*Profit & Loss, Return on Investment, Operational Expenditures, Capital Expenditures, and Total Cost of Ownership.

**We highly recommend the book, Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni.  The link here takes you to their book page which has awesome tools and summaries of the concepts presented in the book.  This is a core culture of Outsourced CIO LLC as a company and impacts everything to our appointments to our onsite meetings.