We all know that compensation is a driver of behaviour. Choosing the right objectives to give bonuses to vCIOs is critical to get the behaviour you are looking for. The wrong objectives could have unforeseen effects and break what you are trying to achieve.
I’m a strong believer that the vCIO’s #1 priority is to ensure that they are the trusted technology advisor for their clients. We want the vCIO to be the person the client trusts the most when it comes to anything even remotely touching technology. I love hearing that a client is having a vCIO be a part of the selection process for a business application or that a CEO is calling a vCIO for advice for a laptop for the kids or even for advice on a new phone. I don’t believe this can happen if the vCIO is perceived as a salesperson. The vCIO must always have the best interests of their clients at heart. The best way to mess this all up is to give the vCIO a sales objective. The client will see right through this and the vCIO will not become a trusted advisor. In a nutshell: don’t give a vCIO a sales objective!
Our ultimate measure of the performance of our vCIOs is client retention. Being friendly and knowledgeable will only get them so far. They need a process. We know that if our vCIOs follow our strategic planning process with all their clients this will lead to better client retention. Therefore, we must incentivize them to do so.
Here are the big lines of our yearly vCIO strategic planning process:
- Identify/validate client’s business objectivesOur vCIOs must start by meeting with their clients in a pre-planning session to identify business objectives and discuss how technology will play a role in reaching them.A case in point could be that after the pandemic a client has decided to let their staff have the flexibility of working from home or the office with the same experience. The outcome of the discussion with the vCIO could be to have laptops for all employees and docking stations with two monitors at home and at the office. An always-on 2FA VPN would provide a seamless experience, for example.
- Audit the IT infrastructure Our vCIOs must then audit clients’ infrastructure against our standards to identify areas that are non-compliant. In our case, they don’t conduct the audit. They schedule it and someone from our project team performs the actual audit. The vCIOs are notified when the audit is finished. They review the failed items. They will then integrate the remediations into a project roadmap.For example, as part of our standards, we have hypervisors in their own VLANs with strict access lists for extra protection.
- Build a three-year roadmap and budget Our vCIOs put together a three-year roadmap of projects and services to address business goals and remediate issues found in the audits. These roadmaps also include all asset lifecycle replacements and warranties in order to have an accurate budget for the client.
- Meet with clients to present the vision and make necessary adjustmentsThe roadmap and budget are then presented to the client by the vCIOs in a strategic meeting. Usually after the meeting the vCIOs will adjust the roadmap and budget according to decisions that were taken in the meeting. The account managers then become the project managers of the roadmap, ensuring that we move forward with the agreed-upon schedule of projects.
- Meet with client to review progress on a quarterly basisThe account managers and vCIO will meet the client each subsequent quarter to make sure we are still on track with the roadmap and budget and also to discuss any changes.These steps are all managed with Propel Your MSP. Defining and tracking your vCIO process, auditing against your standards, and creating roadmap and budgets are now easy and efficient. We built it specifically for this.
As a result, vCIO objectives become quite simple:
- Client retention
- Client infrastructure audit scores
- Client vCIO process completion
- Roadmaps and budgets
- Quarterly meetings
Finally, we have an objective that comes from client feedback. We survey our clients on an annual basis so that we can measure our progression with them. Here are the questions that give us feedback on our vCIOs’ performance.
- Do you feel your network and data are safe from hackers and cyber-attacks? 1-10
- In your opinion, how reliable is your IT network and infrastructure? 1-10
- Do you feel like your IT systems are up to date and the best available? 1-10
- Do you see value, and are you happy with the IT roadmap and budget forecasts we have prepared for you? 1-10
- How would you rate your relationship with your vCIO? 1-10
We look for answers that score 8 or higher for all these questions.
By ensuring the process was followed for all our clients, we have significantly increased our retention. What made the difference was having a tool that allows us to track it because then we could set objectives around it!
Simon is the President of S3 Technologies, a leading Canadian MSP he co-founded in 2003. He built and scaled the vCIO team which eventually lead to him co-founding Propel Your MSP in 2018 to help MSPs with their vCIO services.