Viewing archives for chief technology officer

The 6 Must-Haves for Hiring the Best CTO

Freeman Clarke has decades of experience in hiring the best CIOs and CTOs. In several years of refining our screening process, we’ve discovered that good CTOs always have six essential qualities.

  1. Technical Expertise. CTOs must have an extensive understanding of technology, security and engineering, and preferably years of experience in the industry. They need to understand infrastructure, business systems and online technology. And since no field changes more rapidly than IT, they need up-to-date and detailed experience of practices, products and vendors. The best CTOs don’t just follow the field, they’re leaders — active at events and in online discussions.
  2. People Skills. Of course, all of business is about people. And all software is built by people, for people. Teamwork is at the heart of any successful venture. So the CTO needs to be a coach and mentor to his team, and to ensure that communication needs flows easily upwards, downwards and sideways. Plus a CTO needs to engage with all the stakeholders, be a source of energy and good-humor, and needs to fit in.
  3. Entrepreneurship. The CTO needs to be passionate about driving growth and fully committed to the ambitions of the business. This means understanding funding and valuation mechanisms, business plans, and disciplines like marketing and legal. Of course, any complex project has issues, and the CTO needs to be creative, agile and proactive to rapidly recognize when changes are necessary to stay on track.
  4. Business Management Skills. Running an IT team requires good planning, communication skills, and a careful attention to detail. As CTOs are often responsible for compliance issues, they need to be aware of the implications of contractual and regulatory frameworks too. They must know how to monitor their budgets, manage contracts, and negotiate prices. Since so much of IT involves external suppliers, CTOs need to maintain good relationships and long-term commitments while keeping costs under control.
  5. Strategic Thinking Skills. Technical discussions are often painfully detailed. Custom digital technology is complex and intricate. A good CTO both understands the details and the bigger picture — meaning, how the technology will be part of the business strategy. A CTO should also understand that board-level discussions can be vague; key questions are often about the art of the possible. CTOs need to be comfortable with this and strive for strategies that are creative, sensible, useful and flexible.
  6. Compelling Leadership. The CTO forms part of the senior team. Thus he or she needs to lead from the front — contribute to decision-making, be bold and visionary, and hold others to account. As the business grows, the stakes become higher; the CTO must be able to handle the pressure. Where there are external investors, partners or other stakeholders the CTO needs to represent the business to them. External investors, in particular, need to draw confidence from the CTO, as his or her role is so critical to success.

We devote a huge part of our management effort to the recruitment, screening and selection of CTOs and CIOs. And, because we work in the mid-market, we only select CTOs who can fit in with dynamic businesses, rather than needing the comfort of the corporate environment.

Visit our Knowledge Center 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. For an informal conversation, contact us and we’ll be in touch.

Why CTOs Are Crucial to the Success of Mid-Market Companies

Many of our clients use custom software and digital initiatives to drive sales, increase efficiency or improve service. Sometimes they are disrupting entire markets. As a result, the requirement for a commercially astute CTO is on the rise. Freeman Clarke Co-Founder and Director Graeme Freeman discusses this in more detail in this video.

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. For an informal conversation, contact us and we’ll be in touch.

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.

Visit our Knowledge Center 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. For an informal conversation, contact us and we’ll be in touch.

How Mid-Market Companies Can Recruit a First-Class CTO

Ambitious mid-market or externally funded start-ups are increasingly investing in custom software. They want to seize new opportunities, to disrupt their markets, and to amplify their value.

This is driving the requirement for more commercially focused, flexible, experienced Chief Technology Officers (CTOs). Recruiter Martin Davis spoke to Graeme Freeman, Co-Founder and Director of Freeman Clarke, to find out what CTOs are, and why so many mid-market businesses require them.

Graeme Freeman: So, Martin, can we just start by defining what a CTO does in the mid-market?
Martin Davis: Well, the role varies a lot depending on what the company needs. But the key point is that a high-quality CTO is more than just the person who is accountable for the delivery of the tech. Of course that’s vital, but a proper CTO is widely experienced in business and new ventures and properly contributes on an executive level.

GF: So is this an internally facing role?
MD: Well again, that depends upon what the company needs. Sometimes it’s all about setting strategy and leading software development. A lot of time may be spent dealing with external suppliers. The CTO may negotiate with suppliers, partners or large customers if necessary.
But, importantly, a CTO should be someone who lends credibility to the venture. For example, if there are investors or bankers, the CTO has an important role in liaising with them. He or she needs to understand how they think and work.

GF: Why is it getting harder to find CTOs?
Martin Davis: It’s very hard to find great technicians who are also leaders and tuned into business and commercial issues. The market for good people is always very tight, but it’s getting more difficult because demand from companies, large and small, is increasing.
Areas like fintech, proptech, healthtech and edutech are expanding and sucking up lots of great people. And all kinds of businesses are investing in custom software to separate themselves from the market.

GF: So what options do business leaders in the mid-market have?
Martin Davis: There are really only three ways forward.
Option one is go to the market and recruit someone. This is expensive — of course agents or headhunters charge a very large fee, and the truth is it often goes wrong, because it’s very difficult to assess competence and technical talent. You have to ask yourself whether the best people are available on the market in this way.

Alternatively, companies use interim hires. But they are really just hired-guns, and their commitment lasts until they get a call offering them a higher day-rate. Their flexibility is very limited, if there is any lull or hiatus then they will move on.

But our offer is unique. We have built a team of outstanding people, and they work for our clients on a flexible part-time (we call it “fractional”) basis. So they can be heavily involved during busy periods, and when things are quieter, they can reduce their involvement. They all have first-class records, they’ve seen it and done it, and we have tested and screened their experience. For a CTO that can help a company grow, to work in that company’s best interest and not someone else’s, the best option is Freeman Clarke.

You may also find our ideas on CTOs for software and digital helpful.

Visit our Knowledge Center 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. For an informal conversation, contact us and we’ll be in touch.

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Graeme Freeman
Co-Founder and Director

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