Effectively harnessing the disruptive power of today’s technologies can mean the difference between success and failure in a wide variety of industries. Whether it’s artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, or the Internet of Things (IoT), next-generation tech is launching a myriad of startups and calling on CEOs of established companies to adapt and innovate.
Key to that innovation is the chief technology officer (CTO)—a leader that has both the strategic vision and practical expertise to build a technology roadmap and guide technical teams. But not every business is suited to a full-time CTO. That’s where the fractional chief technology officer model comes in. This guide explains how the fractional CTO role works, considers the pros and cons, and offers guidance on how to find the best fit for your business-specific needs.
A fractional CTO is a seasoned technology pro who, instead of managing all CTO responsibilities, takes on only your most pressing needs—propelling you to your goals quickly and for a fraction of the typical CTO salary.
The functions and responsibilities appropriate to the role range from developing technology roadmaps to building strategic partnerships with vendors. The focus can also be on leading internal teams, managing infrastructure, or cybersecurity. The possibilities are endless.
A variety of non-traditional CTO models exist today. They sit under the umbrella of chief technology officer-as-a service offerings—filled with the same class of high-caliber technical leaders.
Here’s a list of key differentiators:
Interim CTO—An interim CTO is brought in to close the gap when a full-time CTO leaves an organization or at a key development stage at an early or mid-stage startup. They tend to be less leadership-focused and more technology-focused.
The rise of the fractional CTO began in the burning-hot dot com startup environment of the late 1990s. The role is still a great fit for that world but has gained mainstream traction in recent years.
It’s becoming more and more common for small and mid-sized companies to bring in a CTO on a fractional basis. The firm may not have the budget to fund a full-time CTO or may only need executive-level technical prowess to take on a particular challenge.
Philadelphia-based CTO Nico Westerdale predicts that opportunities for fractional CTOs will grow as the gig economy ethos spreads beyond the service sector.
“On a leadership level, the need for fractional CMOs, CFOs, CTOs and a whole host of leaders is increasing,” says Westerdale. “Professionals are finding that they can provide huge value in working on a fractional basis, splitting their time between companies.”
Whether you’re considering bringing in a fractional CTO for a pure tech company or a tech-driven business, you should consider the pros and cons.
Advantages of hiring a fractional CTO include:
The possible disadvantages include:
There are many good reasons to hire a fractional CTO. Here are just a few of them:
Finding top talent can be a challenge in today’s hot job market. There are three tried and true methods for recruiting a fractional CTO. The path you choose depends on your urgency to hire and internal candidate screening resources.
1. In-person networking—Industry events are slowly making a comeback. This option is great if you can vet candidates over a longer timeframe.
2. Job aggregator sites—Platforms like LinkedIn and Indeed have broad reach. You’ll need to have a team primed to review applicants.
3. Talent sourcing agencies—If you need highly skilled, pre-screened, ready-to hire fractional CTO candidates, a technical talent sourcing agency is the way to go.
Technological transformation never comes easy. It requires vision, know-how, and persistence. For startups and established players alike, today’s CTO is often both a tech guru and a strategic planner.
The fractional CTO has the flexibility and experience to make change when and where it matters most to your organization.
Esteemed connects you with pre-vetted fractional CTOs that can tackle your toughest challenges. We’ll do the recruiting and onboarding for you—saving you precious time and resources.
Request a quote today to access our world-class sourcing experts.