CTO as Service

Ultimate CTO Guide: Affordable Hiring Options Inside

no-time0 Minutes Read
Modified Date: 27/06/2024

9 out of 10 startups fail!

When getting an MVP1 ready, senior team members combine managerial powers to achieve market goals — usually without ample technical knowledge and prowess.

Neglecting a tiny detail can lead to huge technical debts despite your plans to launch several products, services, or solutions. Not ensuring strategic planning across the development processes can be your end game.

CTO becomes your superhero in time- and money-critical situations and saves you from going bankrupt.

“Hmm, all the praise, but why should I hire a CTO, and what problems they can solve for me?”

Find for yourself:

  • Got a powerful idea but cannot cope with a tech part?
  • Hesitant about whether the selected tech stack is right?
  • Got an MVP but not sure how to gain the trust of investors?
  • Are you a mature startup but cannot outperform its competitors?
  • Scaled beyond $5 million but the revenue stopped growing suddenly?
  • Is your business already big enough, but got some internal infrastructure issues?
  • Can’t afford a full-time CTO and need a temporary CTO?

If you relate and want more understanding of a… 

  • CTO’s role
  • when to hire one
  • Factors that affect a CTO role and hiring 
  • The right CTO persona for your company 
  • CTO-as-a-Service (CaaS) partnership model: a safer and pocket-friendly alternative to a full-time, in-house CTO

…then keep on reading.

What Does a CTO Mean to Your Business?

A CTO deals with the technical growth of your business and watches the external cyberspace for relevant latest technologies to ensure fruitful technological adoption and deployment within the organization.

“Accelerating technological change” — is one of four global forces now creating “a world of near-constant discontinuity.” This means understanding technology is a must-have skill for every business leader pursuing enterprise-wide change to scale and grow. 

However, not every leader in an organization needs to “understand technology,” just like not every leader needs to understand business finance and accounting. 

Mckinsey explains everything: 

Companies should  “have someone in the C-suite who is responsible for knowing which new, potentially disruptive technologies are surfacing, to grasp both the dangers and the opportunities they pose for the firm, and to see and act across the organization to help formulate and execute a company-wide response. That someone should be the CTO.”

Whether it's building a product from scratch or laying out a powerful technical architecture, a CTO can do it all.

But your IT Chief doesn’t only juggle between new technologies: 

  • They fix your technology strategy and set up a practical roadmap that aligns with your holistic business objectives. 
  • They avoid short-term tactical decision-making that may lead in the wrong direction assuring calculated investments in innovations.

“By knowing the direction of the business, I can make technology choices that ensure we keep as many options as possible open for the business in the long term. Without this knowledge, I’d have to make tactical decisions which are more likely to lead the business in the wrong direction.” — David Tomalin, Group CTO at CityFibre 

An effective technology plan enables CTOs to find improvement areas, refine the processes, and ensure that their technology investments are making returns.

Deloitte surveyed hundreds of C-suite executives (CxOs) from across 55 countries; 

  • two-thirds of respondents were happy about their progress in embracing technology;
  • 80% of directors felt positive about their understanding of tech issues in their organizations;
  • half of them depended on external technical support like hiring a CTO as a service to steer their tech plan;
  • 54% of corporate leaders prefer collaborating with CTOs and inviting them to agenda-setting meetings more frequently;
  • 43% of respondents are interested in hiring one or more tech-savvy board members for literate and profound decision-making.

The world is driven by new developments in technology. Therefore, your organization’s ability to achieve a leading edge in the boiling market depends on technology leadership — which majorly revolves around the CTO.


Many businesses still consider the CTO role a less important role in the C-Suite (mainly in non-tech companies).

CEOs and boards often lead their organizations to a tech deficit failing to understand the CTO’s role when hiring one. They deem it difficult to lay out expectations from a CTO in terms of long-term business goals.

In the same Deloitte survey, both directors and C-suite respondents stated these as the top five challenges to a smarter board leadership:

  • Overreliance on management for decision-making
  • Deficits in tech fluency on the board
  • Unclear governance structure around technology concerns
  • Management information on tech matters is not well-defined
  • The links between technology and strategy are unclear

We have Nokia, Kodak, Motorola, Polaroid, and other tech giants as examples who failed to innovate in time.

The breakneck speed of technological shifts leaves no choice for companies to stay ahead of time and introduce disruptions to their business model. Taking risks is now inevitable.

Tech and innovation know no rules, and for that, you’ll need a visionary CTO who sets you free from the worry of tomorrow.

You see, how important the CTO role has become lately? Their presence and word have become an inherent need for rising businesses.  It’s your turn to find one.

Also Read: Virtual CTO: A Startup’s Best Friend in Tough Times

Let’s Find Your God-send IT Chief

Finding a suitable CTO is difficult, like finding a needle in a haystack. Equally expensive and tedious. Or worse; in the tight tech talent market, a poorly executed onboarding process can quickly result in losing a good resource.

What's the solution? You must determine your precursors, factors, and type that will largely influence your CTO’s requirements and hiring.

When’s The Right Time to Hire a CTO?

There are no rules about when to hire a CTO, only precursors that tell you need a tech genius in your team: 

1. Your startup has grown beyond $ 5 million 

It’s a good omen if your company’s revenue has crossed past the $5 million mark. At this stage, continuing success and growth becomes challenging. The company’s strategic and technical needs grow complex, requiring reliable leadership, guidance, and expertise to ensure unstoppable business scalability and footprint.

2. Taking hi-tech projects but not sure if can handle them? 

Taking more technically complex projects such as custom web app development with intricate technology architecture and system integrations? In such scenarios, the CTO can help if you’re not technically sound.

The right CTO guy can mentor your development team, manage the end-to-end product development, and select the most suitable tools for your hi-tech projects.

Capturing clients but not delivering what you’ve promised can backfire real quick. So, know your risks or hire someone who can handle your risks, wisely. 

3. Your top technical talent is leaving…  

Top technical talent may lose motivation when not exposed to the latest tech stacks, handed low-profile software development projects never challenging their inner tech geek, or not led by a change agent who talks and walks innovation. Some would lose interest during the interview because you’ve got no technology vision.

Attracting, hiring, and retaining the best software developers is becoming quite challenging for software development companies.

If you're unable to hire talented developers who understand your vision or are excited to join your firm, a CTO can change your game forever. CTOs usually come from a rich technical background and also have an extensive network of skilled developers; this can help you build a technology-driven and business-centric team of geniuses who trust your vision.  

4. Technology adoption and business growth? Important, but can you do both? 

Expanding your business and integrating the latest technology? This means technology is becoming an integral part of your business growth strategy. At this point, you’ll need a leader with the right technological guidance and expertise — to bridge technical gaps and translate the company’s aspirations into actionable items to induce growth.

In such a scenario, the CTO becomes indispensable for proper technology execution aimed at achieving remarkable business success. 

5. Building effective tech vendor relationships

If you are investing in a development agency or have recently partnered with a technology vendor, a CTO can serve as your “tech advocate” protecting the company’s interests and budget.

Your IT Chief ensures transparent documentation, contract sign-off, and communication as well as secures intellectual property rights — ultimately fostering successful tech partnerships. 

6. Excited to innovate but don’t know where to begin? 

Innovation is at the heart of every business hitting the jackpot. If you are planning to become a strong contender in the technology market, a CTO can be your change catalyst or innovator.  They follow the latest technology, analyze new trends, and offer a roadmap to adopt and employ innovations.

Right Time to hire a CTO

But how to find your tech star? 

CTO’s Role Based on Your Company’s Size

CTO for a startup or small-scale companies

In small-scale and early-stage companies, the CTO is more hands-on with technical knowledge and processes as they hail from a rich software engineering background. Startup CTOs usually help the product owner with end-to-end software development lifecycle decreasing time-to-market. 

The IT Chiefs fill many roles offering an array of modern skills:  development, DevOps, risk, governance, security, team building, tech innovation, technical documentation, budgeting, and more.

CTO for a large-scale company 

The CTO role in a large-scale company is more like heading the Ministry of IT, geeking out on new technology, and being the customer-facing technology ambassador. In large businesses, CTOs normally have little experience working in a leading technical position.

A startup CTO is a full-stack developer cum leader, but a large-scale company CTO is usually the prestigious part of the C-suite.

Infographic explaining CTO's Role Based on Your Company Size

Other factors majorly affect your CTO’s onboarding including industry type, maturity level, and products and services you offer.

infographic explaining other factors that affect CTO role and hiring

Okay, But how do I choose the right CTO for my business needs?

As defined by Gartner, there are 4 interesting CTO leadership styles or personas based on industry, business needs, and growth requirements:

1. IT Innovator/ Challenger/ Tech Visionary/ Change Agent

  • Key catalyzer of technology adoption and sustenance 
  • Central point for technology innovation and adoption
  • Steers technology leadership among company-wide technology specialists
  • Heads IT engineering teams to build and execute innovations 
  • Promotes the adoption of agile and DevOps-oriented approach
  • Introduces hybrid multi-cloud, edge computing, containerization, automation, and other sources of business innovation

2. Digital Business Leader/ Influencer/ Deep Thinker

  • Suitable for consumer-goods companies
  • Pushes tech in a  company’s strategy and budget
  • Decision-making in innovation-driven investments
  • Translates customer and market requirements into products and services
  • Deep understanding of technology trends, strategy, and execution 
  • Innovates enterprise architecture through R&D and budgeting 

3. IT Chief Operating Officer 

  • Suitable for single or similar product companies
  • Heads the day-to-day agreed-upon delivery of IT services 
  • Involved in IT purchasing and procurement decisions  
  • Runs and maintains IT service management, vendor management, and compliance
  • Monitors and responds to incidents in internal and external systems
  • Assures modernization, optimization, and consolidation of systems such as CRM or ERP

4. Business Enabler 

  • Prevents business units from becoming obsolete
  • Facilitates responsive IT delivery mechanism 
  • Governs and guides key tech adoption decisions 
  • Works with engineering teams to develop, enhance, and redesign products
  • Runs risk analysis when deploying new operational tech ideas

infographic containing info about four types of CTOs

Can’t afford a full-time CTO? Try CTO-as-a-Service model!

Affording a full-time, in-house CTO is challenging for startups. Also, every business’s technical demands vary. Thus, finding a CTO for any business is not easy. It demands time and effort.

Do we have options? We sure do!

CTO as a service or CTOaaS has emerged as a popular cost-effective alternative to finding and hiring a full-time IT Chief. CTOaaS is highly adaptive to your needs —you only pay for the services and resources you obtain.

Why is CTOaaS becoming more popular than CTO in Business?

The CTO’s role has evolved from purely a technical position to becoming a change agent that influences overall business strategy and growth. Besides technical acumen, they are also expected to have a healthy business acumen to use technology in achieving business objectives. Being the champion of innovation requires strong leadership within the organization to inspire technological transformations; all while being culturally fit.

Simply speaking, a CTO;

  • Develops and oversees product development; 
  • actively builds and trains top talent;
  • performs R&D and builds technology roadmap;
  • ensures successful integration of new technology;
  • mixes well with your company's vision and influences change.

They are rarely idle, always working on fail-proof technology execution plans and encouraging the company to improve the entire tech infrastructure. 

However, the financial and operational formalities for hiring a full-time CTO can sometimes overwhelm enterprises with limited resources.

That said, CTOaaS is your minimum viable solution that requires no full-time commitment and salary. 

CTOaaS is similar to CTO services but is different in many ways 

Let’s suppose you have a product vision. But there are technical gaps you can’t fill. You’ve got two ways out

Scenario no. 1: You hire a full-time CTO

Ask your HR to hire a full-time CTO to implement your idea. Luckily you find the perfect CTO. Contracts are signed, work starts, and he hands you his plan. You begin to patiently wait for the plan to work and bring revenue (meanwhile your CTO gets a hefty sum every month.

Scenario no. 2: You hire CTOaaS

Get in touch with a CTOaaS provider and get a consultation (usually free) for well-rounded advice on how to solve your business challenge. Impressed? Great. now request an execution plan and services to help you complete your project successfully. You can keep them for support and maintenance as necessary. 

The difference between the two is self-explanatory: CTOaaS helps you solve particular problems and only charges you for the services you require. while an in-house CTO works full time and takes a monthly salary like regular employees. 

That’s why  CTOaaS is a holy grail for small-to-medium-sized companies (SMEs). 

Benefits of CTO as a service

CTOaaS provides businesses with benefits beyond technical guidance and software development. You get to

  • Prevent any scope creep and operational risks by overseeing budgets, requirements, resources, and security measures.
  • Avail invaluable results through year-long experience and modern insight.  
  • Create your development plan and pitch your project to investors confidently.
  • Transform your business by running tech-driven initiatives. 
  • Get your team mentored and trained on a professional and personal level. 
  • Take advantage of best coding practices and product development strategies. 
  • Make mindful technology investments

Types of CTOaaS 

As we’ve mentioned earlier, CTOaaS gives you multiple convenient options to work with. These include:

Understanding the different services available is essential to select the best fit for your company's goals and budget.

There are five types of CTOaaS:

  • Full-time internal CTO services
  • Full-time external or remote CTO services
  • Part-time or fractional CTO services
  • One-time project CTO services 
  • Interim CTO services

Full-time Internal CTO

Are you still shaping your idea and trying to figure out project requirements? Full-time internal CTO services can help you focus on technological transformation and provide action plans, budget estimates, and pitch decks to grow your idea into a business.

Possible challenge: When hiring full-time CTO services, keep expenses in regard.

Full-Time Remote/ External CTO 

A full-time remote/external CTO is similar to the full-time in-house role but off-screen. They offer 40 hours per week on a remote basis.

You can get full-time CTO service from a remote CTO service provider by paying a suitable wage. Great deal,  isn’t it?

Part-time /Fractional CTO

If you don’t have enough resources to hire a permanent CTO, you can hire a part-time resource agreeing upon hours, resources, services, and salary. Leverage experience and insight to easily fulfill your startup needs under a small budget.

Startups mostly prefer fractional CTO services for maximum affordability and flexibility.

One-time Project CTO

Perfect for fixed-scope projects involving technical audits and troubleshooting helping to solve critical problems, transformations, MVP development, team building, and process management to achieve anticipated business objectives.

Interim CTO

If you’ve lost your full-time CTO, you can hire interim technology leadership to keep your developers, software development, and overall technical progress on track until you hire a new full-time CTO.

As you can see, CTO-as-a-Service is the most suitable model for startups short on financial resources. You only pay for the time and material involved and you get the CTO’s insight and expertise under budget.

So, now you’ve almost made up your mind, how do you plan to find your tech aficionado? 

Where to Find CTO as a Service?

Quite interesting that the CTOaaS can be a person or a team. Finding and hiring suitable CTO services is similar to searching for other technical roles. But in the case of CTOaaS, you must pay attention to word of mouth, social proof, and feedback.

What you choose will largely define your technological standing in the overbrim cyberspace.

Below are the most common sources for finding helpful CTO-as-a-Service:

Explore outsourcing companies

You can explore outsourcing company profiles on listing platforms including Manifest, Goodfirms, Clutch, and Glassdoor. You can see real client reviews, feedback, and projects to analyze different options and select what rightly matches your CTO requirements.  

Word of mouth or recommendations 

For a startup CTO, it is very important to look for recommendations. Try connecting with people who had great experience with a particular CTO as a Service. By asking, you will only get some reliable and trustworthy suggestions.  

Spend on networking 

If you regularly attend technology conferences, IT expos, accelerators, and workshops, there’s a strong chance you can meet your most sought-after resource — your skilled and responsible CTO services provider.  

Wondering what you’ve been missing in your technology adoption and transformation journey? Qbatch can help! 

Qbatch is a trusted CTO as a Service provider that believes “old is not gold” in the fast-moving world of innovation. We are ambitious to make you a pioneer before the world calls you a laggard.

With 8+ years of successful existence in the technology world, we are helping today’s leaders, decision-makers, and stakeholders to make strong technological footprints in their particular industries without risking their investments and efforts.

Offering just more than technical guidance:

  • Align your vision and business goals with future-proof technological roadmaps
  • Keep the bar high when it comes to tech leadership and management
  • Build strategic relations with your tech vendors to ensure maximum cost optimization
  • Perform rigorous technical audits, due diligence, & change management mitigating risks
  • Create low-risk and hi-tech enterprise systems with our software engineering expertise
  • Eliminate software bloat and build technical resilience by performing fixes or total product overhauls 

Why trust us? Because we are your partners, not vendors. 

We empower you to confidently deal with time- and money-critical situations toward greater business growth. If you’re figuring out why you feel like a ghost in the hi-tech space and innovations seem like a mystery to you, we can help!

Why trust Qbatch?

  1. Spectacular price-quality ratio
  2. Total Process Transparency 
  3. Cross-sector expertise
  4. 100% Founders Mentality
  5. Pay-as-you-go Model
  6. Dependable Engineering Craftsmanship
  7. Neutral Software Analysis
  8. Technology Leadership
  9. Highly Solution-oriented
  10. Don’t Hire Just Rent 
  11. Executive-level Resource Under Budget

We provide unbiased consultation giving you the friendliest advice to skyrocket your game in the world of innovation.

Farwa decodes tech stories with her words. With over 7 years of expertise in writing, she now oversees thought leadership content across the Qbatch website. Recognized for her experience in content marketing strategy, distribution, and writing, Farwa has optimized content banks with above 5,000 articles — engaging organic traffic to achieve business goals.

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