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CTO as a service – what is it and why you probably need it

If you got this far, you have probably read our blog post about the importance of a CTO. If you didn’t – we suggest you jump into that one first!

You’ve probably heard of SaaS, or Software as a Service, one of the most effective business models for software companies. But have you ever thought of “lending” a C-level operative for your startup or small business?

It might be a bold (and strange) idea at first, but come to think of it, there’s a number of reasons you might outsource your COO or CTO. But first, is this a new buzzword or a legitimate business practice that you can use to kickstart growth? Of course, before you dive into this, make sure you check out our CTO article to see whether you actually need a CTO! (Short answer, you do.)

What is CTO as a service?

CTO as a Service, or CaaS, is a business practice of hiring the help of an outside individual (or organization) that specializes in providing CTO services, mostly those of an interim CTO, meaning they aren’t meant to last forever. CTO’s for hire can range from experienced CTO’s who exited their companies and are working alone, to full-fledged companies (such as Sintezis) that have specialized teams that support CTO’s.

You will have to choose between getting a full-time or a part-time CTO for your company, though. Depending on where you are in the development cycle, what problems you have and how much of a budget you have, you’ll have to decide how many hours of a week you actually need a CTO. Best idea here is to contact a consultancy or a company providing CTO services and chat with them – you can do so here!

You can get either a full-time CTO that works for you on a contract basis, meaning the person will be available to help with tasks or projects that you simply can not do alone. This mostly means tackling the implementations of a new product, or hiring more people at once after an investment round. It’s important to have the help of a CTO during these times, since we’re talking about the foundations of your company here. The second idea is to get a part-time CTO, who is someone who is available on a part-time basis and can help you with advice, perhaps oversee some parts of the development process and overall provide a layer of security between you, the founder, and the teams.

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Why should you consider it

First things first, it’s the general workflow improvement. If you’re a small startup just getting started, you probably don’t really know all that much about managing a large team or a company. That does not mean the workflow pauses, projects manage themselves and such. Hiring an external CTO, preferably one backed by a company, lets you transfer some of the stress to an experienced outside organisation that has faced the difficulties you’re struggling with now.

Collaborating with outside helpers from the get-go can help your company grow extremely fast, if you’re making the right decisions as to who (and why) to collaborate with. As an interim CTO brings experience and vision, you’ll probably have more time to think strategically. Also, since the person you’re hiring is probably an experienced professional in the field, you can benefit from advice regarding direction you should take.

Lastly, there’s the price. Hiring a company to manage your CTO efforts from the get go might seem like an unnecessary expense, but investing in experience from the start might help you angle yourself better. That’s why the price of an interim CTO will definitely be offset by the gains you make, simply because you’re getting an experienced professional who probably wouldn’t be able to work with you full time.

The drawbacks

Of course, the major drawback here is that you’re hiring an outside person to a very small team. Be wary of team chemistry issues and make sure you’re as transparent as you can be when it comes to announcing the new position. Second thing is that you don’t want to have an interim CTO for a long time. The reasons you are hiring an outside person are related to setting up and growing, so once you managed to do that, you’re better off finding a CTO that will be with you permanently. There’s also the added bonus of the fact that the interim CTO can help you hire a permanent CTO!

2021 / 12 / 22

4 minutes