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What is a virtual CTO?

A Chief Technology Officer, or CTO, is a critical role in a mid-market business. A CTO is a Board-level position accountable for just about all technology in the company, from hardware to software to teams and suppliers. Reporting to the CEO, the CTO drives innovation, efficiency, and effectiveness across the business.

A ‘Virtual CTO’ or ‘vCTO’ has similar responsibilities, but they are usually more limited in scope. Whilst a full-time CTO makes a long-term commitment to a business, a vCTO will be brought in for a specific task, such managing an ERP project, or shoring up cyber security and compliance.

Virtual CTOs have become more common during the pandemic, as many businesses found themselves with specific immediate needs during lockdown. However, for an ambitious business with medium- to long-term growth plans, a vCTO may not be the best choice.

On the other hand, a fractional CTO will take responsibility for the day-to-day as well as larger projects. A Virtual CTO will, by definition, have a certain distance from the business. But a fractional CTO can deal with the people, process, and technology issues of a mid-market company.

‘Fractional’ simply means ‘part-time’. It is a Board-level position, with the full responsibilities of a CTO. It just provides more flexibility and affordability for a mid-market company.

(Click here for more details on the role of the CTO.)

Who needs a Virtual CTO?

Mid-market companies will turn to vCTOs for a number of reasons. They may need a CTO with very specific experience. Or perhaps the business could use an outsider’s perspective on its technology and growth plans. One very common reason is money: since vCTOs are by definition part-time and/or contract employees, they cost less than a regular CTO.

Fractional CTOs, however, provide benefits in the short-, medium-, and long-term, while remaining an affordable choice.

What do Virtual CTO Services include?

The services a vCTO provides will be specific to the needs of the company. They may take a broader view, providing an overall vision or strategy. Or they may spearhead a specific project, such as a front-end redesign, or purchasing and implementing new software. Whatever the brief, a good CTO needs excellent technical skills and communication skills, as they have to clarify their role to investors, the Board, and staff.

How much does a Virtual CTO cost?

The salary of a full-time CTO will range from £100,000 to £230,000 per year, depending on the experience of the candidate, the role, and geography. A Virtual CTO will be less expensive, but the exact cost will depend upon the length and complexity of the assignment. A fractional CTO, however, can ramp up or down as needed.

Are there many CTO jobs?

There are hundreds of open CTO positions across the UK, but the competition is high. It can be a challenging, secure, and well-paying job, with the possibility of making a real difference to a company, so it’s a sought-after position.

Job seekers should also consider fractional CTO positions, which offer more flexibility and variety. At Freeman Clarke, we specialise in fractional CTOs. Click here to get in touch.

‘The Freeman-Clarke model has worked well for us at an important time of change. Our fractional CTO’s professionalism and “can-do” approach meant delivery of a number of critical projects which have brought our IT systems up to date. Our CTO’s ability to pick up on the complex technology of our industry, combined with his IT capabilities, has resulted in a stronger, more secure IT environment.’

Why Freeman Clarke?

Quality. Our unique model provides a cost-effective way to get the best talent in the business on your team. We hand-pick IT leaders on the basis of their skills and experience and their ability to fit in to the culture of a mid-market business like yours.

Business-minded. We are business people, and we speak your language. Our IT strategies are always tuned to the needs of the business and commercial realities.

Independence. Our CTOs are completely independent. We make no arrangements with suppliers, so you can know that our recommendations are completely objective.

Flexibility. We don’t insist on an upfront payment or commitment to a six-figure sum. We demonstrate value every day, or else just tell us to stop immediately. It’s as simple as that.

Affordability. Our people are the best in the business, but as you take a fraction of their time the price point is affordable. We set our prices appropriate to the mid-market and we don’t cross-sell or upsell.

 

Visit our Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) Knowledge Centre which includes all content related to this topic.

Freeman Clarke is the largest and most experienced team of part-time, or fractional, IT leaders. We work exclusively with organizations looking to use IT to grow their business. To find out more about how we could add value to your business, get in touch.

What does an Interim CTO do?

A Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is responsible for technology, teams, and suppliers. They drive innovation and efficiency across the business.

Sometimes a company may be between CTOs and will hire a CTO as a stopgap. Thus an interim CTO, by definition, will be replaced by a permanent hire. This can create confusion and a lack of continuity for a company.

A better choice may be a fractional CTO. ‘Fractional’ simply means ‘flexible’ and can mean ‘part-time.’ But a fractional CTO can stay with your business for years, providing strategy and continuity. And because they work on a fractional basis, it’s more affordable and cost-effective than a permanent hire.

Who needs to hire an interim CTO?

There are a number of situations that may drive a CEO to seek an interim CTO. Sometimes a company looks for an interim CTO to develop bespoke software. Or a start-up may need technology leadership to provide credibility to investors. A mid-market company may want an interim CTO to help it through a period of rapid growth. Finally, a company may seek an interim CTO to keep the IT and technology working well until they can find someone permanent.

In our experience, a fractional CTO has been a better choice in every one of these scenarios. An interim CTO, by definition, is for the short-term; a fractional CTO can help with the same short-term issues, but their long-term commitment means a more comprehensive and strategic approach. And you aren’t stuck with a contract: a fractional CTO can ramp up or down depending upon client needs.

What do CTO Interim Services include?

  1. Creating a robust, secure, trouble-free infrastructure (including desktops, email, phones, network, file storage)
  2. Managing business systems, including the processes, people, and technology needed to make them work well (such as training, data standards, and documentation)
  3. Delivery of digital initiatives that likely encompass customers, partners and suppliers
  4. Ensuring compliance and risk management (for example, GDPR, PCI, ISO27001).

How much do CTO Interim Services cost?

Surveys by recruitment companies indicate a pay range from £100k to £230k per year, depending on the exact scope of the job and geography. An interim CTO will often work on a day-rate, and that can add up quite quickly.

A fractional CTO, in contrast, is a fixed, predictable cost that works out to be (of course) a fraction of a total salary. At Freeman Clarke, we specialise in fractional CTOs, from a few days per month to full-time, or even entire teams. Click here to get in touch.

How to Hire an Interim CTO

There is no shortage of agencies who specialise in interim CTOs. When considering an interim CTO, consider the following points:

If any of these questions are not answered to your satisfaction, it is likely your business is better off with a fractional CTO.

‘Freeman Clarke aligned our IT with our business strategy. Our systems now provide much greater support for our staff, reducing wasted time, costs, and problems. The culture and practices within our IT team have changed radically, and they are now a critical contributor to our success.’

Why Freeman Clarke?

Quality. Our unique model provides a cost-effective way to get the best talent in the business on your team. We hand-pick IT leaders on the basis of their skills and experience and their ability to fit into the culture of a mid-market business like yours.

Business-minded. We are business people, and we speak your language. Our IT strategies are always tuned to the needs of the business and commercial realities.

Independence. Our CTOs are completely independent. We make no arrangements with suppliers, so you can know that our recommendations are completely objective.

Flexibility. We don’t insist on an upfront payment or commitment to a six-figure sum. We demonstrate value every day, or else just tell us to stop immediately. It’s as simple as that.

Affordability. Our people are the best in the business, but as you take a fraction of their time the price point is affordable. We set our prices appropriate to the mid-market and we don’t cross-sell or upsell.

 

Visit our Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) Knowledge Centre which includes all content related to this topic.

Freeman Clarke is the largest and most experienced team of part-time, or fractional, IT leaders. We work exclusively with organizations looking to use IT to grow their business. To find out more about how we could add value to your business, get in touch.

What is a CTO salary?

A Technology Officer (CTO) is responsible for technology, teams and suppliers. They drive innovation and efficiency across the business.

What is the salary for CTOs in the UK?

Surveys by recruitment companies indicate a CTO salary can be up to £230,000 per year. The salary will vary by the experience of the candidate, but where they work also matters. CTO salaries in the London area tend to be the highest, but CTOs can certainly earn high salaries in other cities across the UK.
With all these factors—experience, geography, the quality of the candidate and the needs of the business—it can be complicated to assess a CTO’s salary.

How to determine a CTO salary?

We simplify determining CTO salaries by using three key factors:

1. Does the CTO look to the horizon—to market leaders and emerging technology—in order to bring innovation and new ideas to the business? Are they genuine leaders in digital, custom software, and identifying market opportunities? Do they continually learn and ensure they are at the top of their game?

2. Do they take a leading role in improving efficiency, effectiveness, and driving business value? Do they create new starting points and innovations to open the door to new business strategies? Or is their job to simply meet the agenda set by more senior leaders?

3. Finally, do they take broad ownership for delivering change? For example, does the CTO facilitate discussions with other leaders within the organisation and potentially outside? Do they work as equals with other Board-level leaders to meet overall objectives? Are they credible and knowledgeable when dealing with investors and other external stakeholders?

Overall, the CTO is an extremely important position that can have a huge impact on a business. The CTO’s salary needs to reflect that. (For more information about the role itself, see our article, What is the meaning of CTO?)

If you have questions about the role of the CTO and their salary, we can help. We interview, screen, select and develop more Board-level IT leaders than any other organisation. We’re always happy to discuss the recruitment process or any other IT challenges or opportunities.

Why Freeman Clarke?

Freeman Clarke CTOs work on a ‘fractional,’ or part-time model. This provides a business with first-class technology leadership without the full-time cost.

Our fractional CTOs are uniquely suited to mid-market businesses. They have outstanding technical expertise. They are strategic thinkers. They understand how to use technology to drive growth. But they are also suited to the culture and reality of mid-market business.

Whatever the remit, our CTOs operate from the fundamental idea of linking a business’s systems and digital strategy to business objectives. This should be the goal of every innovative company because when the two disciplines are connected, we see real, sustainable growth.

Visit our Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) Knowledge Centre which includes all content related to this topic.

To find out more about how we could add value to your business, Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

 

Responsibilities of a CTO

Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is a crucial position. They drive innovation, efficiency, and effectiveness across the business. They use technology – such as online or digital initiatives – to increase company value.

The CTO is responsible for technology, teams, and suppliers. They may oversee the development of custom software and apps. And a CTO is a communicator, representing technology initiatives to investors and other stakeholders when necessary.

How CTO Responsibilities Change with Company Growth

Some claim there are two types of CTOs: those who provide technical leadership and those who provide operational management. In reality, it is often more often a continuum, with the roles shifting depending upon the company and its business goals. 

But growth will definitely affect the responsibilities of a CTO. A few factors to consider when experiencing or planning for growth:

Main responsibilities of a CTO in startup

In any business, the CTO ensures that the company’s technology supports its business goals. But of course, this will play out in different ways in an established company and in a startup. 

In a startup situation, the business may not even yet exist when the CTO gets involved. (He or she may be an investor.) The CTO will be crucial during the planning stages, evaluating the technical viability of the product and designing solutions to bring it to life.

Early in the life of a startup, the CTO will develop a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to attract investors or users. At the same time, the CTO will plan the technology architecture with a firm hand on security, integration and scalability.

As the product matures, the CTO ensures quality control and takes responsibility for building and supervising teams and IT operations.

“Freeman Clarke have always provided honest and clear advice, guidance and support to the senior team. Having someone completely independent and trusted who understands both the business and the technology has proved to be a significant business enabler.” – CEO, British Pathé.

Why Freeman Clarke?

Freeman Clarke is the largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it ‘fractional’) CIOs and CTOs. We work exclusively with ambitious mid-market organizations, and we frequently help our clients to use technology to beat their competition.

Visit our Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) Knowledge Centre which includes all content related to this topic.

To find out more about how we could add value to your business, Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

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Graeme Freeman
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