What Is A Virtual CTO?

A Virtual Chief Technology Officer (CTO) has the same role, in broad terms, as a typical in-house CTO. That is to steer the technology aspects of your business and/or its projects in alignment with business goals. But one key difference is that a Virtual CTO is not full-time. They only work for the business as needed, ie: a virtual part time CTO.

Why Would You Need A Virtual CTO?

Save Money

One of the biggest reasons is cost. A virtual CTO could cost only a fraction of a full-time one, but without sacrificing expertise or capability. This makes virtual CTO services attractive to startup companies, charities, businesses that have fallen on hard times, or any business looking to save money.

Increased Skills and Knowledge

Another advantage over an in-house CTO is that a Virtual CTO typically comes from an existing ecosystem of colleagues, partners, and mentors (many of whom are experts at the top of their fields) with diverse skills and experience. This bring you collective capabilities that are far greater than any single individual could provide. As a result a Virtual CTO has a powerful edge over an in-house CTO. A normal CTO is just one person and thus can only provide the skills, experience, and technology strategy of a single individual with a single viewpoint. This is particularly powerful for organisations with a development team, who build products or systems using diverse skillsets.

Wider Geographic Coverage

One significant reason why a virtual CTO can be better than than a permanent one, is the coverage across multiple locations. An average CTO is used to being responsible for teams in a particular place. They operate in the office, and are most familiar with that environment. Aspects of the business outside of that environment can be less obvious to them. By contrast, a virtual CTO has no single office to operate out of, and their experience in running teams remotely means they can work across multiple locations effectively.

This also means that your virtual CTO doesn’t need to be a local. You may be thinking that since you are based in Sydney (for example), it makes sense to hire a virtual CTO in Sydney, but that is not generally necessary. As long as timezones are within 3 hours difference, your virtual CTO will be just as effective no matter where they are, or where your offices are.

Multiple Benefits

Here is a summary of some of the advantages you can enjoy:

  1. Significant cost saving – can eliminate an entire wage at times.
  2. Brings diverse skills and experience from multiple sources, instead of just one.
  3. As-needed expertise whenever you need to make business decisions.
  4. Not a staff member, so no need for office space, fancy desk & laptop, company car and more. And no HR impact.
  5. Avoid getting stuck with a bad apple. If your Virtual CTO is not a good fit, simply do a handover and engage another.
  6. A fresh pair of eyes looking in regularly. It’s all too easy for in-house people can get swamped in the details.
  7. Truly non-conflicted. Your technology decisions will be based on what is best for the business, rather than for a single individual.
  8. Avoid tech freeze, and stay up to date with best-practice and emerging tech that will benefit your business.
  9. Keep your focus on your core business and leave the tech side to experts.
  10. Get a mix of hands-on and leadership skills. Available as and when you need them, rather than just one or the other.
  11. Strategic planning becomes more effective, as a Virtual CTO has experience operating at multiple levels in an organisation.
  12. Greater knowledge across multiple aspects of tech means you don’t need to hire as many single-focus people.
  13. Powerful mentoring and skills advancement for your technical team members.
  14. Stay on top of tech trends, innovations, and emerging technologies. A typical full-time CTO doesn’t often have time to do this research.
  15. Advanced coverage of issues like SEO, PPC & Google Ads, digital marketing strategy, cloud infrastructure, and more.
  16. Avoid expensive overlap: your Virtual CTO can wear many hats, like CIO, CISO, Head of Engineering, Solutions Architect, and more.
  17. Keep a competitive edge against others in your field who might be hiring traditional CTOs and thus not getting the above advantages.

Example Of A Virtual CTO

For this example, I will describe myself. I’ve been in IT for over 35 years, with most of that time spent running technology projects that can involve software, infrastructure, security, and more. While being an in-house CTO for many businesses, I have developed an affinity for startups. I’ve learned how to dive in during times that technology leadership and management is needed, such as product architecture and construction, and then how to stand back when needed less, such as after product delivery, when the business focus turns to sales. I remain available during those times when I’m standing back, but often I’m only needed for strategy guidance, or for scaling up and efficiency. I am comfortable at every stage of the technology journey, because I’ve lived it.

What Does A Virtual CTO Cost?

It can be pleasantly surprising. We’ve already established that a Virtual CTO can be way cheaper than getting the equivalent expertise by hiring permanent staff for the role, but did you know that in many cases it is still affordable for small businesses on very tight budgets? In my case, you won’t have to commit to some costly retainer arrangement. We offer that if you want (with attractive volume-based pricing), but for very tight budgets you can simply purchase a block of hours, and use them as you need them. A block can be as small as 10 hours, so when we say it is affordable, we really mean it.

Where To Get A Virtual CTO?

Right here! I’m available for projects small and large, or just to answer questions and advise your teams or leadership. Tap, Click here to get in touch to let me know what you need.