What is a “Fractional” CTO?
A Fractional CTO is an experienced C-Level Technologist who advises organizations on a part-time or consulting basis, leveraging the strategic benefits of his or her experience, without the cost burden of a full time executive team member. Typically, a Fractional CTO is deployed to help smaller companies navigate key transitional challenges, including situations where the current team is overburdened, inexperienced, shorthanded or in need of an outside perspective, for situations like:
- Product Launches
- Crisis situations (good or bad) and turnarounds
- Transition from beta to Production or other key transitions
- High growth beyond current team member experience
- Strategic Assessments & Diligence
- Loss of key team members in the face of strong challenges
- Team restructuring, including “on-shoring” or “off-shoring”
- Business plan restructuring for change in technology direction
- Technology “Strategy Audit” – a CTO-Level reality-check on how well your short and long term sales plans and strategies, product plans and strategies and your technology plans and strategies synchronize and self-reinforce each other
- Other Examples:
- Scalability Assessment
- Disaster planning, emergency preparedness
- Team Personnel Review / Assessment
- Current and Future Organizational Structure Review
- IP Review
- Software development method & process review for discipline and maturity
- Technology “translation services” for top-level executives and 3rd parties, such as partners or investors
- Assisting with diligence, preparing for pitches, investors, partners
Often, organizations that need a Fractional CTO have great technology and great dreams, however, the reality of keeping up with day to day business, building the product, the daily care and feeding of the infrastructure, and of the customers, is all-consuming. These “operational blinders” keep these organizations from effectively managing critical long term technology plans and strategies.
As your Fractional CTO, I bring my 30 years of technology and 15 years of CXO experience to help you get through your current transitional hurdle or other challenges. This can be a quick reality-check or a longer term advisory relationship, as your needs require.
My goal is to provide the appropriate level of advice and support to help your organization create or improve a best practices foundation.
To start the process, I need to understand your business model and current plans and strategies, at a high level. I sit with you and your team to understand your challenges and build an operational context. I usually spend informal time with each team member to get a sense of where your team is focused and their “world view” of pain points, priorities, goals and what drives them.
The Technology Review can go in many directions, depending on your circumstances, the specifics of the technologies employed, the maturity of your business or infrastructure, etc. Issues may involve data center operations, security, privacy, performance, backup, regular maintenance, and emergency plans.
In some cases, I may recommend targeted and certified 3rd party detailed code-audit, PCI security audit or other documented review of your codebase, database design, infrastructure, or other security assessments. These 3rd party audits can later be used as part of your diligence package. The technology review will work to map your technology deployments against known industry best practices.
Roadmap: The review can optionally include a review of the various company roadmap / plans: Your Sales Plan, PR Plan, Marketing Plan, Operations Plan, and, yes, your Technology Plan. Whether these are actually spelled out and codified or not, the goal is to work to bring these Gantt charts in line with each other. They should reinforce each other synergistically.
Research: The review can include researching appropriate technologies, vendors and 3rd party solutins that can help your organization scale and balance priorities and budgets.
Support: The review can also evaluate the effectiveness and scalability of your product support and account management to address both the human requirements as well as overall technical performance and uptime requirements.
Scalability: Scalability does not just include hardware or software. It also involves your organizational structure and its resiliency to stress and growth. Scalability assessments will evaluate both the company, your team and your technology holistically, to identify issues and potential concerns.
Team: Depending on your needs, we will look at your current team and evaluate their effectiveness and long term appropriateness and roles. As you grow, investors and partners will expect a team with increasing experience, capability and maturity. Hopefully, all of your current team members will stay around for the ride, however, most organizations will eventually need to fill key management team roles with outside talent. If needed, the evaluation can map out a key team member placement roadmap, and assist in finding and filling these roles.