'Contract CIOs' gaining popularity

More CIOs are taking interim, fractional or project-based roles in which they hold the top IT position, yet are not company employees, CIO reported Feb. 21.

Hiring a "contract CIO" may benefit companies that are too small to need a full-time CIO, have short-term needs that require additional IT leadership, or need a CIO with expertise in a certain area, such as mergers and acquisitions, according to the report.

Contract CIOs make different career choices, CIO reported. Some work for multiple companies at once and split up their time among clients while others work for one client and dedicate only as many hours as the role requires. Some stay with a client for years in a part-time role until the company is stable enough to require a full-time IT executive, while others become interim CIOs and lead IT efforts until the company finds a permanent CIO.

"[It's a] great way to access talent you might not be able to access full time. You can hire someone who is excellent at transforming IT and then promote an internal person or hire externally to carry it forward," George Westerman, co-chair of the MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Awards, told CIO. "A contract CIO can be an excellent way to improve the performance of IT. A fractional one can be an excellent coach for one of your internal people who isn't quite ready for the executive ranks."

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