CTO-as-a-Service in Crucial Stages to Success

Being relatively a new service trend in today’s tech-driven world, CTO-as-a-Service (CaaS) is notably gaining its momentum. Though CTO as a traditional full-time position exists for decades, some companies do not feel they need a technology executive. Still, in some crucial stages of company growth, the CTO engagement turns out to be inevitable. CTO engagement mainly concerns startups and mature companies that have technologies at the core of their business. Let’s see what might give them a hint to shift to the CaaS model.

Ideal scenario assumes there’s a CTO in house.

A Chief Technology Officer, as the name suggests, plays a key role in pivotal technology implementations in the organization and ensures that technology adequately addresses company challenges. In other words, the CTO is responsible for all the technical aspects of company processes, professional tech-team management, and strategic decision-making.

However, not every company avails itself of a highly-skilled technology executive. The reasons are quite diverse.

For instance, technology-centered startups are limited in their budget to afford a CTO. Another reason is that garage startups kick off their projects with just a few people in the bundle, and there’s no differentiation between positions. The same person can be a developer and a technical manager, while a non-technical founder is more likely to be accountable for marketing.

Even though history knows dozens of examples of successful startups with non-technical founders and without a CTO — like SlideShare, YouTube, Lyft, Snapchat, to name a few — this in no way prompts you to climb the same ladder. The market sets new rules for tech players as the days pass, so every startup carves its own way to a soaring height.

As for more prominent companies, there might be no strict necessity to engage a CTO permanently. The expertise of administrators and senior-level developers suffices to handle routine technical tasks under the guidance of such company members as VP of Engineering, Team Lead, and Project Manager.

No matter in which growth stage the company is, eventually there comes the critical moment to hire a CTO from outside, namely leverage CTO-as-a-Service.

How to spot the moment you need CaaS

The “right” time to bring in a CTO varies from company to company. While some companies might need a one-time technical consulting, others are looking for ways to have CaaS on a long-term basis. Let’s see what might give you a hint to “It’s high time to incorporate deeper technical expertise.”

Early-stage startups. The dream of every startup is to create a second-to-none solution that will triumph on the market and bring high ROI. If the product is your business, it is imperative to thoroughly plan out everything upfront, including the development team and responsibilities, applicable tech stack and development tools, and development milestones and deliveries. Without a down-to-earth strategy at hand, there is a significant risk of failure in some steps to the growth just because something relevant was overlooked.

A CTO with a solid IT experience and knowledge of the industry may help with initiatives from the very beginning. By referring to СTO-as-a-Service on a long-term basis, you will get proof of concept, expert advice on best tech stack for an MVP, professional management of the development team, and timely task coordination. The CTO also will consult with you on such options as integration with third-party applications and possible cloud deployment and migration.

Startups planning to scale. If the company is on the fast track for growth and planning to raise investment, it will take a significant effort to convince the investors of product potential and people who stand behind the exceptional work. Beyond all doubt, the chances are higher if there’s already a strongly skilled CTO onboard.

If not, think of the personal and professional qualities of the CTO you would like to push ahead with and start looking around. A qualified CTO is expected to pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of the previous tech approaches and help you out with the most optimal roadmap for future growth.

Mature startups. Once the whole way to become more prominent is gone and the solution hooks customers and users, do not stop to conquer new frontiers. To outperform rivals (they are everywhere), it is vital to establish a strong foothold by enriching the product with something outstanding.

A CTO with solid engineering expertise and strategic thinking will enlighten you on the latest tech trends and apt solutions to pick the cream of the crop for an unrivaled user and customer experience.

Deeply rooted companies. If you plan or already undergo digital transformation, you may face several challenges related to business processes, customers, market conditions, and industry-specific regulations. Adopting an advanced technology is not an easy process, for changes affect single people and departments, internal technical infrastructure, and the way people interact and manage data.

What is more, the market offers a wealth of digital solutions to drive business. Just think of the power of mobile apps, cloud services, collaboration and marketing platforms, automation tools, and many others you are unaware of. Still, they are there for you to be timely and wisely unleashed. Not to get lost halfway, pin down with the CTO as to which resources are best to incorporate and at which moment, what kind of risks to expect and how to mitigate them, and what additional tech solutions might be of great benefit in the future.

OK, I need a CaaS. Where to find a skilled CTO?

Locally, if financially stable with long-term goals. The optimal solution is to hire a CTO in your area. However, small companies and startups with lean budgets are more than likely to skip this option. As of April 2019, a U.S. Chief Technology Officer makes an average of $280,916, including base salary and additional payments. Also, a respectable CTO is in high demand. Your offer should be convincing enough so that the CTO accepts the position.

Freelancers for common technical tasks. Alternatively, you may look for freelancers. If you need to provide a complete picture of technology-centered business conduct, it will cost you time and patience to find out whether the candidate is the right CTO for your big goals. Freelancers might be of great help in fulfilling specific design or development tasks. They are less likely to make strong strategic contributions. When it comes to a part-time deal not requiring solid engineering and managerial skills, a CTO-as-a-Service will save your day.

A dedicated CTO for ambitious companies. A trade-off between a local CTO and a freelancer is hiring the CTO remotely. With so many communication channels today, you can reach out to the same level of talent and expertise and at a reasonable cost outside the country. There are many progressive IT companies around the globe that offer a full-cycle CTO-as-a-Service for organizations of different stripes. One more advantage is that the CTO can bring a team of time-proven developers and other technical experts you may need down the road.

Key tips to make the right decision in favor of CTO-as-a-Service

Before you decide on CaaS, find the time to vet a potential candidate; prepare actual questions for the interview; and determine how you will describe your business and objectives and the challenges that come along with them.

  • Research vendors providing cost-efficient software development services, as they have a rich pool of people with diverse backgrounds and expertise.
  • Ask for a detailed CTO profile highlighting engineering background and experience in leading the projects in your industry. If possible, ask for examples of their activity (case studies).
  • Prepare additional questions you find relevant to completely evaluate whether the CTO is a perfect fit for your company.
  • Don’t be skeptical about word of mouth. Ask your VC investors and partner companies for references and tick other valuable recommendations.
  • Always give feedback to get a response. This way, you might uncover something undiscussed and get a deeper insight into the CaaS model particular to your case.

Summing up.

Whether launching a new business or looking for ways to advance, it is always crucial to make the right decision at the right time. Referring to CTO-as-a-Service will help you address technology-driven challenges duly and map out an effective strategy in line with your business objectives.

Most importantly, the CaaS model cuts your employment and overhead costs when compared to hiring a local CTO. It also relieves you of the tedious search and waiting for a professional if looking for someone in recruiting agencies. The CaaS model provides compelling flexibility in examining the CTO expertise prior to hiring, combining short-term and long-term engagement, and augmenting the team by the specialists recommended by the CTO.

Alex Sokolov

Senior Software Engineering Manager

Professional with 10+ years’ experience in software development, building and mentoring engineering teams at iTechArt. Certified Scrum Master. Expert in global delivery. Still staying deeply technical, so I can help project teams to implement engineering best practices for a sustainable development process.

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