Developing Custom Software? Don’t Hire an Interim CTO

As more companies invest in bespoke software, there is an increasing demand for interim Chief Technology Officer (interim CTO). This blog post helps explain the potential opportunity and potential issues.

Why build bespoke software?

Many companies have crashed on the rocks of bespoke software – it is both risky and potentially expensive.

Any project can go awry, for example an office fit-out can go wrong – but at least you can see what’s going on; you can explain what you want and why; and you can assess progress and issues with your own eyes. But none of this is true for bespoke software. It’s complicated and most of it isn’t visible. And developers are notoriously difficult to communicate with!

But, bespoke software can extremely be valuable – not least because it’s difficult to get it right. Bespoke software can allow you to do things better than your competitors, it can allow you to give you customers a higher quality experience, and to create new, high value services. It can allow you to scale your business without proportionate increases in costs. Bespoke software is intellectual property and it amplifies the value of a business.

What is a CTO, Chief Technology Officer?

A CTO or Chief Technology Officer owns all aspects of IT centred on software development. A CTO should bridge the gap between the business and the development activities and ensure the software delivers the business plan.

The CTO’s basic role is to understand the market need and commercial opportunity, and help develop business plans. And then to ensure the ideas are turned into working software effectively, in-house or externally. But most importantly the software must be well designed, well engineered, secure, properly tested and compliant with contractual and regulatory requirements. Finally the CTO ensure that all software is properly hosted and supported.

In order to deliver, an interim CTO must understand the commercial context properly. For example, for ecommerce they should understand external partners like Amazon, ebay and how search marketing is optimised.

As well as working well with the rest of the Board, an interim CTO should be able to deal credibly with external investors, advisors, partners and suppliers.

How to hire an interim CTO

Interim CTOs generally work on fixed term contracts, on a day rate basis. Interim CTOs normally find their work through agencies and are available at short-notice when available. They will expect their appointment to be full-time for the duration of the contract, and will generally work alone.

Freeman Clarke provide fractional (part-time) CTOs rather than interims as we believe the interim model lacks flexibility for the client and exposes the short-term interests of the interim. Our team make a long-term commitment to understanding a client’s business aims and have a long-term interest in the viability of their work. We can ramp up or ramp down so remain engaged with our clients on a flexible basis for the long-term.

CTOs can only join our team after an extensive and rigorous screening process, so we guarantee that our people really are the best in the business.

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If you’d like to discuss in more detail how a fractional CTO can benefit your business, please get in touch via our contact us page or call 0203 020 1864.