The Role of a CTO as a Service in Scaling Startups

In the digital age, building and scaling startups is tough, especially for founders without technical experience. Without a specialized tech advisory team, making important decisions about bringing an idea to life becomes even more challenging. Foreseeing all the tech particularities is highly essential to organizing software projects. Even if leaders have decided to do these tasks with the help of internal IT professionals, it gets more difficult when the time comes for auditing and scaling the software product. That’s why startup leaders need to leverage the Chief Technology Officer as a Service (CTOaaS) for such activities.

CTO as a Service is an effective way to obtain external assistance for product development, deployment, growth, and enhancement. This relatively new business strategy is a reliable method for startup founders to embrace technology and gain a competitive edge without an in-house technical professional.

CTO Services for Startups: A Go-to Method of Obtaining Tech Leadership

Opting for CaaS enables leaders of early-stage startups to access comprehensive engineering expertise at any stage. For any startup, regardless of the industry type, factors like management team, business model, and tech adoption are the backbone. These are the fundamental building blocks, which require maximum attention. But startup leaders are bogged down with unnecessary tasks.

Such an approach sets wrong objectives, and poor benchmarks, and produces misperception. All these factors are just enough to destroy a startup in the initial stage. Whereas, a CTO advisory team hired through a service model may help leaders strengthen building blocks and minimize the risk of failure.

  • Management Team – Most disputes in a startup may arise due to inadequate management. Improper decision-making, communication, and misunderstanding may lead to startup failure. With CaaS model, founders can reduce management-related problems. A CTO employed with this engagement model may have unique specialization and bring a new vision to processes. Likewise, this expert possesses deep management expertise and robust communication skills and can set up and manage a completely new process starting from ideation to deployment.
  • Technology40% of reviewed venture capitalists mention that technology adoption is one of the key aspects that influence startup failure. With external CTO specialists, startup initiators can mitigate major tech-related concerns and ensure their idea is technically viable. An external CTO may help founders transform their vision into a tangible development plan or a feasible software solution while implementing continuous scaling and optimization efforts.
  • Industry Situations – Typically, experienced IT outsourcing companies offer this exclusive offering. The professionals from such companies have a profound experience with a range of technologies in diverse fields or industries. For instance, after working as an external CTO to leading marketing firms, that specialist may be able to deliver high-level services and provide deep expertise in the Marketing Technology domain.
  • Business Model – Leveraging CaaS means, startup leaders can access not just engineering and IT professionals; they can also build collaboration with experts who have both technical and business experience. Meaning that, these professionals even have business analytics skills, which help them identify imperfections in the business model and recommend ways to enhance it.
  • Timing – Merging the roles of technical expert and business consultant, CaaS offering may help leaders ensure that they’re planning to join the market, digitize services, or improve products at the right instance. A technical officer working on the project will strategically assess market conditions and domain trends to determine the ideal time for rolling out a product.

Critical Tasks to Handle With the External CTO Specialists

Project Discovery

CaaS is valuable for both new-age startups and existing businesses. Many firms have already tapped into this offering to resolve technical challenges, minimize costs, and manage a narrow IT talent market. And every project starts with research & discovery. When establishing a brand-new startup, building an MVP from scratch without technical research is an unproductive process. That’s why, CTO as a Service providers start with a project discovery phase.

This approach is a straightforward way to eliminate failure. CTO experts help founders ensure that product development is worth capitalizing on. With a project discovery phase, startup leaders don’t need to devote huge expenses to development. Through digital collaboration tools, external CTOs can virtually test ideas, create a business plan, and determine project feasibility at the discovery stage. By employing CaaS, startups can get project discovery support for app prototyping, architecture development, and identifying technical risks.

Software Development

An engineering professional who works with startups as a CTO can’t handle the development lifecycle. Whereas, experts working under a dedicated CTO as a Services model will have deep experience and expertise in multiple frameworks and programming languages. Hence, virtual CTO experts mostly guide and make decisions related to software development, while coding tasks are managed by programmers.

The role of CaaS in software development is more about strategic decision-making and development. A CTO employed as a service may implement critical features during MVP creation and develop strategies to optimize development time and launch the most critical functionality as quickly as possible. The CTO recommends a Cloud provider and task-tracking system for launching a productive software solution. They may also contribute to DevOps tasks and organize the entire development lifecycle.

Pitch Meeting

If a founder is planning to promote a bootstrapped tech startup and then acquire funds from offshore investors or capitalists, they may have to involve the CTO in creating a presentation and partaking in the pitch meeting. An external technical leader will possess the technical vision of how to execute an idea in real time and offer answers to tech-related queries during pitch sessions.

Technical Audit

It is well-known that every software product becomes archaic, and loses the end-user’s attention. To keep the product ahead in the market, virtual CTO experts perform a technical audit using advanced tools. This helps in identifying issues and bottlenecks, understanding ways to refine software applications, and launching new exclusive selling proposals.

Some of the technical tasks performed by CaaS during the audit include:

  • Code and software quality assessment
  • Engineering team productivity Measurement
  • Documentation of errors, problems, and challenges within the team
  • Developing recommendation documents and suggesting ways to address errors and improve product performance

Let’s look at the case study of S&P Global, a US-based housing association firm. This firm was seeking the support of skilled consultants who modernized their property user’s experience. They are associated with an offshore CTO firm. Delivering expert advice at every stage, they helped the community to obtain positive outcomes. They also implemented a central Housing Management System (HMS) and helped the firm to achieve 92% of its modernization goals.

Product Scaling/Updating

Before updating an existing product, startup founders should consider two critical questions: How exactly does the update process need to be done? Who can organize this?

By opting for the CTO outsourcing model, founders can get answers to both of these queries. Once a technical audit is done, the specialist in the CTO role obtains an overall vision of the product’s technical strengths and glitches. They can perform a SWOT analysis or even conduct a discovery phase to study ways to refine the product and entire processes. Simultaneously, a CTO analyzes the development team’s size and structure and may recommend a team extension. For complex projects, they can interview, employ, and onboard skilled engineers effortlessly from the global talent market.

Talent Acquisition and Team Extension

External CTO consultants may help startup leaders discover, choose, and employ experienced software programmers and testing engineers. Furthermore, the CTOaaS experts may be able to connect software founders to an app development outsourcing team they are working with and monitor development. CTOs can also replace professionals who don’t match their technical requirements, and scale teams based on process or workflow optimization. This allows founders to save time and money and seamlessly collaborate with pre-vetted talents.

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Leveraging CTO Services

Though the CTO outsourcing model is cost-effective and transparent, there are typical mistakes that startup owners need to be aware of before leveraging it:

1. Delegating Only Programming Tasks to External CTO

Although it’s a standard practice in startups and small firms, the CTO shouldn’t be involved only in the coding process. As mentioned before, technical experts might have experience beyond simple coding and development. To improve the value of startups, founders should involve external CTOs (hired through a service model) during decision-making and leadership activities. By consulting the CTO, leaders can apply productivity improvement strategies and innovate at scale.

2. Sequestering CTO experts from the In-house Team

Multiple team members across the startup must report to the CTO. However, this applies to the CTOaaS model too. A development or tech team may or may not report straight to a CTO expert, but it’s critical not to isolate the expert from internal teams. Even though it’s termed CTO outsourcing services, startups will be working with a team of professionals. To help a startup’s project grow and attract the right investments and stakeholders, the role of the CTO should be included in internal processes.

3. Considering it as a One-time Investment

If startup owners need a one-time discussion with a technical expert to decide on project activities, they should be partnering with software development consultants rather than CTO outsourcing. The offshore CTO services strategy means that a professional team will commit to a startup’s improvement and aim to make their projects faster, and more reliable.

Closing Thoughts

On the whole, leveraging offshore CTO services is a cost-efficient way to get tech advisors on board. This is particularly valuable for firms at early stages or those preparing to scale. An experienced CTO provides virtual assistance in various areas from selecting the most suitable technologies to resolving intricate technical challenges. They also help startup owners to present the software product to investors, and drive revenue.

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Alice Gray is a seasoned web developer having over 8+ years of experience in producing impactful industry-centric custom software for the world’s top establishments, SMEs, and subsidized start-ups across over 20 different domains. She has in-depth knowledge on inclusive software execution & deployment plan, evaluating user needs to provide better innovations to end-users. With consistent and well-documented APIs, Alice can enable customizations and flexible integrations for existing software products. In her free time, she loves to educate tech geeks by producing insightful content on trending tech topics.