Your CIO Is Leaving? Press the “Pause” Button


When a company’s Chief Information Officer decides to move on, the usual knee-jerk reaction is to line up a replacement right away. After all, there’s a strategic plan to be carried out, and the sooner the better, right?

Maybe not. The problem we see over and over again is this: a new person in the chair won’t help if the plan isn’t sound to begin with. Here’s a specific example:

In this small- to medium-sized-business, the CEO’s initial response to his CIO’s impending departure was to use an executive recruiter to quickly fill the void, leveraging the past CIO’s strategic plan to find a best fit. It was a good thing we crossed paths before he acted on this plan, because there was a better way – hiring an interim CIO with a wide range of experiences to review and refresh the strategic plan, after which the interim CIO would help hire a new CIO with a skill set matched to the new strategy.

Because the CEO chose this alternative, the business moved from using on-premise servers to the cloud. The results: fewer personnel to maintain servers, greater scalability, greater reliability for his customers … and significantly reduced operating costs. We ultimately worked together to hire a CIO with experience working in cloud-based DevOps environments to continue to catapult the business forward.

Four Common Cases for an Interim CIO:

There are other legitimate reasons to consider using an interim CIO. The four core cases involve:

  1. Creating a new strategic plan based on diverse experience and helping to hire a new CIO that can fulfill the plan, as detailed in the case study above.
  2. The cost-effective route of having the interim CIO fill the gap, mentor an IT director, and hand things off once infrastructure is stabilized.
  3. Avoiding recruiters that are focused on their commission. Instead, an interim CIO serves as a guide who understands your IT at an intimate level. You should not try to hire a CIO if you don’t have a detailed understanding of what they do.
  4. Hiring an interim CIO to hold down the fort until a new one is found. In the meantime, the interim CIO can help evaluate people, process, and products, then use this information to develop a road map.

Thanks to their broad base of experience, an interim CIO can open your eyes to options you may not have known were possible, often creating greater efficiencies and reducing operating costs.

Could you or someone you know use some help from a CIO with experience in a wide range of businesses and industries? Contact one of our Executive Advisors today so that we can work together and use this as an opportunity to revitalize your IT strategy.