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What is a Fractional CTO and when do you need one?

Fractional CTO cover

The Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is one of the most important positions in today's start-ups and companies. Especially in software-as-a-service companies, this position plays an essential role. 

A CTO typically manages development teams, identifies the necessary tools and outlines the company's technology strategy. 

In this article, we summarise the characteristics of a CTO and when a Fractional CTO can become extremely relevant for companies. 


What a CTO does

The CTO is responsible for key decisions concerning the technical (further) development of products and services. He is in charge of both personnel management and the strategic direction of the company in which he works. In order to implement these functions successfully, the management, of which the CTO is a part, must know the market very well, be aware of the resources in the company and be able to recognise and make the best use of the potential present.

The important tasks of the CTO are:

  • Development: guiding the technological development of one's company is one of the main tasks of a CTO. At best, he ensures that his company is a pioneer in technological innovations.
  • Intermediary: the CTO is the most important interface with a company's management and technology department. He or she collaborates - if present in the company - with the CIO (who is responsible for the day-to-day activities within the IT department), the CEO (the chief operating officer), the COO and the CFO to harmonise technology projects with corporate strategies.
  • Personnel management: the CTO is the main technical manager of the company and is responsible for all employees in this area. He recruits people, sets the line, motivates and contributes significantly to the positive development of the respective company.
  • Strategic company direction: together with the board of directors, the CTO determines the company's direction and sets strategic goals, thus becoming a figure involved in the implementation of the company's vision.
  • Market observation and analysis: the CTO must always keep an eye on the (technology) market in order to recognise the latest developments as quickly as possible and, at best, align the company accordingly.
  • Evaluation of new technologies: the CTO observes developments in the market and recognises the potential behind them.


Why a company needs a CTO

In technology-driven start-ups, the so-called technological competence of the founding team is questioned in the first talks with investors. The presence of a CTO in the founding team is essential in a technology start-up. In these cases, one usually already has a structured technology team, e.g. a development manager who somehow holds the team of developers together. Here, the need to give structure and direction to the department becomes clear, always taking into account technological and business objectives. 

Technology requirements have changed enormously in recent times, and with them the needs of technology personnel. Unfortunately, traditional IT managers usually lack the agility to constantly embrace innovative technologies. Naturally, they are driven and at the same time hindered by business objectives. When IT systems can no longer scale adequately with the growth of the company, one periodically reaches the point where the situation becomes really critical and the figure of a CTO is urgently sought.

A mistake many companies make, however, is not to ask themselves how long a CTO is actually needed for. It is not necessarily the case, especially when it comes to start-ups, that a CTO is needed full time for the entire duration of the project. Often the CTO is needed until the first launch of the product/service being worked on, thus lending itself well to a short-term need. This is where the service offered by the Fractional CTO comes in.


Fractional CTO:

The person who assumes the role of Chief Technology Officer, or CTO, must possess the right technical skills and vision to guide and steer the technological development of a company.

Fractional CTO is an external consulting and technology support service that enables companies and start-ups to:

  • finding the right technical and organisational direction in the implementation of a project;
  • managing remote and offshore development teams;
  • harness the skills of a CTO without having to hire him internally and pay him for the hours he is operational;
  • evolving a project in the production phase or finding a solution to a project that is no longer maintainable.


Do you fall into one of these cases? Discover our Fractional CTO service and contact us to talk about your needs.