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Why You Need a Fractional CTO

So you’re a small to medium sized business that needs to increase profitability and scale your business, and understands that technology might be part of the solution…but you don’t have an in-house technology department?

A fractional CTO might be the solution you need to increase profitability, scalability, and align your business vision.

One very important caveat: You shouldnt use your IT guy as your CTO. Let me explain why.

Do you have an IT guy? Most small to medium sized companies without an IT department do. An IT guy is important to have, but they’re not an architect. Your IT guy isn’t going to look at your strategic business vision and tell you: here are the gaps you need to fill in and here are the steps to select software to do those things or build your own software in-house.

Think of it this way: your mechanic is great at fixing your car, but you wouldn’t hire them to build you a new car, would you? That’s just not what they’re there for.

You may not need a full-time CTO to be on-site strategizing 365 days a year with the CEO on technology, but you do need someone the CEO and/or other C-level executives can talk to time to time about their problems and needs. The CTO can look at your business processes and streamline and automate them to leave less room for manual error and lag time.

When you have a CTO with an architecture background on board like me, you can grow, not just maintain the status quo. Here’s why you need a fractional CTO:

1. A fractional CTO can support your business vision. It’s important to build a roadmap of where you want your business to go. When you have that vision (whether it’s selling this much product or making this many dollars this year), you can start to understand the ways in which your organization isn’t set up to support it and make changes.

Your fractional CTO can help your visionary leader tackle the nuts and bolts of how to get to your business vision. It’s not just about installing a new, shiny software system, it’s about creating the proper business architecture and alignment before you undertake a transformational technology change.

A big part of this includes going through and documenting every business process to understand how things get done and how to make them repeatable. Chances are, if you haven’t documented them, then they’re not repeatable. I always say that computers are like the dumbest babies in the world — you have to tell them step by step what to do, and if you don’t have the steps down you can’t automate your business processes. Software doesn’t understand non-repeatable processes.

2. A fractional CTO can get you the clean, actionable data you need to make Data-Informed business decisions. If you don’t have a roadmap and the right systems in your organization, you can’t get the clean, actionable data you need to make key decisions. A CTO can come in when key decisions have to be made and has a team behind them to do analysis and implementation. We link data from one system to another and have it flow to reporting areas so C-level executives and managers have the data they need to make decisions for your organization’s future.

3. Save money. A full-time CTO would cost you between $250,000 and $500,000 a year. But the truth is, only a large company can afford to pay that. For much less money, you can hire a fractional CTO and get technology services to implement and support your vision on a part-time basis.

4. Gain flexibility. When you don’t have a full-time CTO you have to pay all the time, you can tailor your fractional CTO services to your business’s needs. As your needs change, you can adjust the level of service you receive. A full-time, on-site employee is a fixed-cost, meaning you have to figure out how to fill their time – potentially with very low-value work.

5. Access more experience and skill. A fractional CTO generally comes to you with much more experience and skill than you can afford in a full-time employee. At StarSpring Consulting, we have 20 years of experience (and if you include our senior level employees, we bring a combined 100 years of experience.) We see the same problems in different businesses over and over again with a slightly different flavor, and we bring that expertise developed through years of experience to your business.

6. Easier to get people onboard. Often, what you really need is someone to get everyone else on board. As outside consultants, we have a much easier time getting cooperation from people who might block the same effort from another internal employee who could be viewed as a competitor.

7. Solutions come faster. Chances are, we’ve seen the same problem you’re facing many times over. We come ready to solve those problems and get your results quickly. It’s not our first rodeo.


8. There’s less risk. Terminating a key full-time employee can be expensive, challenging, and emotionally draining. Exiting a relationship with your fractional CTO who isn’t your employee is much easier – it’s clean, simple, and there are fewer feelings involved.  

What’s possible when you have a fractional CTO?

For the last four years, StarSpring Consulting has been working with a large state transportation agency. Our task? To get a brand new service planning and daily operations management system put into the tech ecosystem of a subway system.

The tech part of the job was simple. The hard part was actually getting alignment and getting people on board in an old organization that’s been doing things the way they do them forever. They didn’t need an IT guy, they needed a fractional CTO to step in and create a technical vision for an IT department that was understaffed and had too many conflicting priorities.

We were able to get the job done: putting Amazon Web Services in place as the basis for the software’s server architecture, documenting processes, and getting many departments to agree to do the same tasks the same way across the board so the software could do its job. It was a giant transformational change, and they needed a fractional CTO to step in, make executive decisions, and drive the change.

If the CFO of the business is the CEO’s right hand, the CTO is the left hand. Whatever the CEO envisions and the CFO sets up the funds to do, the CTO makes sure it actually happens from the process and technological view.

If you’re ready to increase profitability, scale your business, and get the left hand person you need to align your business vision, let’s talk.