Whether your company is a fresh startup, or a well-established organization with years of tradition, at some point you'll face a need for a technical leader with a vision, how to successfully introduce technology into the business. If you have a trusty, experienced person to take this responsibility, you are very lucky. But when you're just starting to search for one, it may take months just like with any other upper-level management member. And even if you have senior software engineers onboard, none of them may fit the role as it requires not only technical knowledge but also an understanding of business and sales operations.
What are the key responsibilities of a CTO?
The role of a Chief Technology Officer (or Chief Technical Officer) is typically defined as an executive-level position, overseeing the technology-related operations within the organization, and leading the key technical decisions, aligned with the company's business goals. In technological start-ups or software companies, this would be typically a person with an engineering background, often with huge experience in development, system administration, or another similar role in the IT department. He/she will decide on (or at least approve) the tech stack used by development teams, infrastructure, software, and hardware used by employees and oversee the security measures within the company. A good CTO will make the decisions based on both his technical knowledge and the best interest of the business.
A CTO in non-tech companies
While for a tech-oriented startup it would be hard to succeed without an experienced technology-oriented leader, if your company is focused on something else, you might not need one at full time. Still, even very traditional businesses more or less rely on technology one way or another. If your organization is a small-to-medium, non-tech company and you decide to introduce software to your business operations, you'll need a trusty person to oversight the decisions and advise the board on how to successfully proceed with the transition into the digital world. In such a case, a CTO as a service model might suit your needs. Many companies decide just to rely on external vendors to provide the required solutions, however having a person who takes the business into account when advising the solutions might be valuable to you and your business partners.
When a CTO needs help
In many cases, even an experienced C-level executive needs an experienced advisor. For a CTO, a trustworthy senior developer might act as the right hand and help with the most complex decisions. However, you might not always have one. Or you might need a second opinion from someone not biased by being a full-time member of the team. In such a case, you might want to have a shadow CTO, acting as an unbiased advisor. For this role, the CaaS model is a good fit, as it generates a cost only for the actual work.
Help for a non-technical founder
If you're a startup founder with great business know-how, you'll want to focus on fundraising, creating pitch decks, and building the product, before the competition catches up. If you have a technical partner from the beginning, you're lucky. If not - you're on a tough journey of searching for a CTO to join you. A CTO as a service can be a helpful asset for you, so you could start building, raising money, and recruiting staff without waiting for months for a good match. This person can help you lay grounds for the project and even advice when talking with candidates for a full-time CTO.
So how to find a CTO as a service?
You can start with asking CTOs from tech consultancies you already know. Some of them might be interested in offering you their time in this model. A good rule of thumb to decide if someone's a good fit for you is to see if the businesses behind such person are successful and if you communicate well with them. If you don't know anyone, probably someone in your LinkedIn network does.
And also, if you liked this post and the stuff we do at Owls Department, I'm at your service. My Name is Jakub Przyborowski and I'm a CTO with over 12 years of commercial experience in tech. I'll be happy to help!