There are a lot of corporate leadership positions abbreviated as C*O, which stand for C – “Chief”, * – the name of the department, O – “Officer”. For instance, CEO is a chief executive officer, CFO – chief financial officer, CMO – chief marketing officer, COO – chief operational officer. In this article, we want to focus on another important C-level executive, which is Chief Technology Officer – CTO. Who is a CTO, why to hire a CTO, what is CTO as a service for startups and mature companies, and how to be a CTO – all these questions answered here.
Who Is a CTO?
As the name itself suggests, CTO is a person responsible for the technical side of the software development process. This officer is in charge of managing technology partners, software developers, and IT support, setting up software development process and control, making key decisions on the technical stack and architecture. It is a person of utmost importance in project execution, strategic innovation, and mentoring practice.
The responsibilities of a CTO include dealing with projects from a technological perspective and making sure that the company has all the tools needed to complete these projects. A CTO gives recommendations on how the existing corporate infrastructure can be improved. Finding the optimal people and streamlining software development are also two of CTO’s major responsibilities.
Among the matters that a CTO has to manage, there are:
- Data architecture, database design, data analysis;
- Cloud-born infrastructure, cloud scalability and performance;
- PoC projects;
- Short-term and long-term technological strategy;
- Agility of the software development process;
- Quality of the final product;
- Recruitment of professional developers and promotion of business growth;
- Sponsorships and partnerships.
Why to Hire a CTO?
The role of a CTO in a software development company is quite important. It is a person who can significantly boost technology management, identify technological risks, ensure cybersecurity, and promote compliance with government regulations and best industry practices.
Moreover, a businessperson who founded the enterprise or even a CEO may not be fully aware of the latest technical innovations. CTO, in turn, is a person who has to be open-eyed to the latest changes in the industry, which would give the company a huge boost.
The role of a CTO is also important when it comes to designing a business strategy for the company. A CTO consults the executives on the development and deployment of tools that are necessary for the technological prosperity of the company.
Finally, CTO is an important corporate culture player because, knowing that there is an exceptionally knowledgeable person on board, team members will feel more engaged and inspired.
What Is CTO as a Service?
Companies that do not have their own CTO or do not know how to hire a CTO, can use CTO advisory services and outsource the responsibilities of this person to an external professional – use a short-term CTO service to meet the dynamic growth of the company.
The concept of CTO as a service is still unheard of, but it will become topical quite soon since such a professional may make a huge impact on the growth of a business. CTO as a service for startups will be enjoyed the most since these companies have neither experience in running a technological change nor an opportunity to hire a long-term chief technology officer.
CTO for hire is usually a person with a profound experience in managing technical and team-related affairs as they have been working as a CTO at least for a few startups or mature firms.
One may use CTO consulting services, where a highly skilled professional will help to carry out the most important business changes without burdening the company with obligations of a long-term contract. Also, this specialist might help the company to find a long-term CTO that would suit their needs and business values the most.
How to Be a CTO?
It is clear that, without an education degree and a sound professional experience, one can barely make a successful career of a CTO. Surely, you can try yourself as a CTO without having studied for it at a university, but you will not do without having experience with real-life projects, reading books, and passing educational courses. The importance of knowledge and experience is so obvious in this case that it is not even worth to make you waste your time reading about it once again.
Instead, we want to provide you with a few practical pieces of advice from our CTO – Oleksiy Pletnov.
First thing each CTO should keep in mind is business needs. CTOs usually have a technical background (me as well), so they might sometimes concentrate on technical decisions trying to make them perfect in technical aspects (e.g. scalability, test-coverage etc.). While all of this is important, a business has limited resources, and sometimes it doesn’t make sense to invest in that. Sometimes, it might make more sense to integrate an existing solution rather than building it oneself. And these might be tough times when the CTO needs to overcome his technical perfectionism.
The other important thing is managing software developers. Not necessarily should the CTO do that on a daily basis – that’s usually a responsibility of a Project Manager. But still, he should participate in setting up the development process. A few pitfalls here are:
- Estimates are often inaccurate, and CTO needs to improve their accuracy
- People might have different background and approach to development; (which is fine), but CTO should define a single process for everyone to follow;
- Often, software architecture has some assumptions, and they should be checked as early as possible to avoid future changes in architecture;
- Wrong team composition might lead to an inefficient workload with bottlenecks in the development process slowing down the whole team.
To Sum Up
It is an absolute necessity for modern technological startups to hire a CTO – a person who keeps his finger on the pulse of the global technological progress. Otherwise, the company is going to fall behind its competitors in terms of technical solutions. If one does not know how to hire a CTO or cannot afford to have their own specialist, CTO advisory services are the optimal choice. A consulting CTO will advise non-technical executives of a business on the latest industry changes.