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A CTO plays an integral role in your tech company.  They help set company culture and make key decisions involving technology such as hiring and managing a team of software developers, managing the software development life cycle, and establishing the short and long term technology strategies for your business’ continuous growth.  

Unless you are hiring a sizable in-house tech team or strategically positioning a leadership team with investors for future rounds, most start-ups and midsized companies may not need an experienced full-time CTO. In fact, bringing on a CTO too early and incurring the high cost in the early critical stages of the business can have consequences for product development. You might end up putting valuable resources into hiring someone you don’t need at that moment. In the early years all you should be looking for is someone to plan for growth, manage the development team, ensure that all features are working, and all the technological needs are met.

Small and medium sized companies should consider these 3 options to fill the role of a CTO. 

1. Hire a full-time CTO 

If you want a loyal, dedicated leader to drive the digital direction of the company, someone committed to the company, its achievements and values, then a full-time CTO will be able to:

  • Examine and establish the short term and long term technological needs of your product or company. A good CTO is usually proactive about it and has solutions ready before problems or challenges even arise
  • Reviews your existing technical architecture or create a new architecture to handle company growth 
  • Determines the right technology fit to meet your product and company needs
  • Recruit, Hire and Manage your full-time IT department
  • Helps in identifying risks in your company cybersecurity systems and ensures that your company’s services and products meet with the right regulations
  • Identify your company culture

2. Partner with a quality vendor that has a solid CTO experience

If you just need to focus your efforts on getting your product to the next stage then what you need is someone to manage the software developers, the software development life cycle, and establish good reporting channels with the management team to set short and long term technology strategies. Find a software vendor who has the right experience to play the CTO role. Here are the things a quality partner will do for you:

  • Ensure that both your business and technological strategy share the same goal
  • Establish a feasible roadmap for your product or business from an early stage
  • Recommend the right technical architecture for scalable growth
  • Find the right technology fit to meet your product and company needs
  • Design and implement the right cyber security plan
  • Construct an effective plan on your monthly and yearly IT budget
  • Fulfill the short and long term goals set for the business by ensuring everyone on the team is in the right direction
  • Bridge the gap between the management and the development team
  • Execute technology initiatives 

3. Outsource your CTO

If neither option above is right for you, you might consider outsourcing your CTO. There are several CTO-as-a-service models available to help you hire an interim CTO. This might help give you the confidence of having a dedicated CTO who works in your industry. Here are a few reasons why you should consider outsourcing your CTO:

  • If you’re building up the C level suite of management
  • If you’re looking for a leader to drive the digital and technical direction of the company
  • If you’re looking for someone to aid in decision making for stakeholders and provide advice on technical issues
  • If you need a leader with domain experience and extensive knowledge of your industry
  • If you need someone to provide project delivery management

Possible reasons why you might not want to outsource a CTO:

  • Technical experience and development cycle experience alone will probably not get any better results than you will from a competent development partner. Deep business knowledge is key to outsourcing the right CTO.
  • An outsourced CTO may lack commitment and loyalty to the company.
  • If they are part-time, they may not have the opportunity to really dive deep into every aspect of the technology.

Whether you hire a full-time CTO, partner with a vendor, or outsource your CTO, someone competent should be driving your digital products forward and aligning with your business goals. The questions are around your immediate budget and whether it’s better to partner at this stage in your business. If you want to learn how Chromedia can offer  transformative partner solutions and lead your business in the right direction, contact us today.

Jason Coppage, Co-Founder