Let’s face it, the C-Suite doesn’t come cheap, and increasingly businesses are realising that full-time positions at this level are not necessarily the only, or the best, option. Are we saying that all businesses should dispense with their executive team to save money?
But depending on the scale, point in the business lifecycle, number of secured client contracts, and cash in the bank, along with many other factors, modern businesses now have more resourcing options than ever, safe in the knowledge that engaging expertise as and when needed is proven to be highly effective.
As businesses grow and expand, there comes an inevitable point when they must mature. No longer will using an accountant suffices when determining the optimal financial strategy, and, the marketing department will invariably demand more than a peripheral role and become a business function in its own right.
At the same time, you may only need executive-level expertise for a handful of days each month. In this case, most businesses typically look to take on part-time executives, with a view they can grow their hours over time.
But is there a better way? In this article we will review two approaches now being widely adopted, to have the benefit of executive-level expertise, but for a much lower cost.
Have you done your fractions?
A fractional CIO, CMO, or another type of executive works for more than one business, dividing their time between each, much like a NED or Chairman. There are several advantages to this arrangement. Firstly, and most obviously is the reduced cost. A fractional CIO may only spend a quarter of their working month with your organisation, but in many cases, this is all that is needed. Executives who work this way can develop their knowledge and expertise faster because they learn from a wider range of experiences and contexts. In this way, your organisation can benefit from the lessons learned in other businesses.
This model is now becoming increasingly commonplace and proven. Consider the example of the Marketing Centre, a UK based business which now has many CMO’s and Marketing directors on its books who are provided on a part-time basis to businesses in need of their skills. Many firms only require a Marketing head for a specific function, or for a limited number of days per month, and therefore outsourcing businesses such as this are proliferating. Perhaps you need a CMO to review your strategy, or help you plan a product launch or a re-brand; by bringing in part-time expertise, you can control costs while being assured of having the necessary competences available to undertake the executive level projects needed.
The reality of virtual executives
‘Virtual’ executive team members differ from fractional or outsourced resources in that they may or may not be full-time, but they are geographically dispersed. This is a growing phenomenon and is common with emerging or start-up businesses whereby key executives reside in different regions or countries. Business networks and social media now make it possible to find others who share your business vision and can immediately start working without the need to move location.
Companies with virtual resources are not only able to dispense with the traditional cost of offices; they can benefit from global expertise and talent. Indeed, it may even be prudent to combine the fractional and virtual approaches, for example, if a particularly adept expert happens to reside in another country and offers their services to a select number of businesses.
There are undoubtedly challenges with operating across time zones; the reduction in social cohesion, and the differing law and cultural practices in each country – but these can all be overcome and will not necessarily outweigh the benefits of the virtual team approach. Technology tools can ensure robust communication and collaboration between staff, and meeting platforms allow individuals to see the ‘whites of the eyes’ of their colleagues. After all, remote working is now commonplace and has been shown to lead to greater productivity and worker satisfaction, when compared to those who are solely office-based. If you do elect to embrace the world of virtual executive boards, it is paramount to invest in technology and connectivity which will enable your team to connect, collaborate, share, see, and speak with each other; not doing so will impair productivity, increase frustration, and ultimately defeat the purpose of internet-enabled virtualisation.
As we have established, the ideal C-Suite setup for your enterprise depends on a range of factors. The optimal approach may be to use a hybrid model, whereby some of the team are full-time, and some are virtual, fractional or part-time. What matters is the way in which you assure team cohesion, collaboration, and the availability of technology which removes the barrier of distance (in the case of virtual teams).
Firms who are planning to undertake a radical business change, or looking to merge, acquire, or sell, may need a full-time CMO but this does not mean that all the executives need to have the same working arrangement. The overall cost savings of a single member of the executive team working on a fractional basis can lead to considerable gains – crucial in troubled times, or when starting up.
Reach Revenue works with business owners, leaders and investors to develop high performing sales and marketing teams aligned to the strategic objectives of their business. To find out how we can help you, please call 0203 858 8030 or email firstname.lastname@example.org