Many technology companies find it challenging to attract senior technical leadership. If you’re a small startup with limited resources, you cannot afford a senior executive. In fact, there’s a very good chance you don’t even need one on full-time basis. As an alternative to a full-time CTO, many companies today hire ‘fractional’ CTOs, on interim and/or part-time basis, when they need the expertise but can’t justify a full-time hire. Another reason more mature companies hire a fractional CTO is to fill a critical leadership gap in a transition period, while searching for a permanent executive who’s a great fit for the company. Does this sound like you? Read on to see if you should consider a fractional CTO.
When should you consider a fractional CTO?
If any of the following scenarios sound familiar, you may want to consider working with a fractional CTO:
- You are searching for a technical leader to join the company but you’re having trouble attracting the right person. It’s not a decision you want to rush, meanwhile you are concerned about product development and your engineering team’s performance in the absence of a strong leader.
- You are seeing a disconnect between your engineering organization and the rest of the company. You are concerned about your engineering team’s ability to make strategic architectural decisions that serve the business in the long run. You don’t need an executive involved in daily activities, but you need the strategic oversight.
- You have a team of developers but deadlines are often missed, results are poor and on one is accountable. You need someone who understands your business goals and can align technology efforts to support those goals.
- You need to grow your engineering organization and could use support in growing emerging leaders, attracting talent, hiring and on-boarding candidates.
What can you expect?
A fractional CTO can step in for the interim to eliminate the risk of a leadership gap. They can establish your company’s technical vision, oversee the development team and put processes in place that get your team delivering predictably against your roadmap.
Unless the nature of your business does not warrant a full-time CTO, most of these arrangements are temporary and you should act accordingly. If you intend to eventually hire a full-time CTO, keep searching. Your interim CTO can help you vet candidates and can support your hiring efforts by tapping into their network. You should also work out a transition plan so that when your full-time hire joins your company they are set up for success.
Is this right for you?
This is not the right approach for everyone, but if you find your company suffering because of technical leadership gaps, this model opens up new possibilities for you and can support your business in critical transitions where a lack of leadership is detrimental to your business.