Developing Custom Software? Don’t Hire an Interim CTO

As more companies invest in bespoke software, there is an increasing demand for an interim Chief Technology Officer (CTO). But there’s a better way to find a flexible, experienced CTO.

First of all, why build bespoke software?

Many companies have crashed on the rocks of bespoke software. It’s risky. It can get very expensive, and a lot of projects get stuck.

Of course, any project can go awry. But in most situations competent leaders can figure out the problem; they can explain what they want; they can assess progress and issues with their own eyes.

None of this is true for bespoke software. It’s complicated, most of it isn’t visible, and developers are notoriously difficult to communicate with!

Nevertheless, bespoke software can extremely be valuable. It allows you to do things better than your competitors. It can provide your customers a better experience and provide new revenue streams with new services. It can allow you to scale your business without a proportionate increase in costs. Finally, as intellectual property, custom software amplifies the value of a business.

What is a Chief Technology Officer (CTO)?

A CTO owns all aspects of IT centered on software development. A good CTO also bridges the gap between the business and the development activities, ensuring that the software delivers the business plan. He or she understands market needs and commercial opportunities, and thus can help develop those business plans.

The CTO then ensures that the ideas are turned into effective software. He or she has guaranteed that the software is well-designed, well-engineered, secure, properly tested, and compliant with contractual and regulatory requirements. Finally the CTO makes sure that all software is properly hosted and supported.

How do know you have a good interim CTO?

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

As well as working well with the rest of the executive team, an interim CTO must be able to deal creditably with external investors, advisors, partners and suppliers.

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

We believe that the interim model lacks flexibility for the client, and it exposes the short-term interests of the interim hire. Instead Freeman Clarke provides flexible, or part-time CTOs. We make a long-term commitment to understanding a client’s business and take a long-term interest in the viability of their work. We can ramp up or down, while remaining flexibly engaged with our clients 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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