Is It Possible to Hire A Remote CTO For A Startup? 7 Pitfalls to Avoid

Hiring tech-talent has become a new norm in IT and software development fields. Initially, hiring software developers was very popular; but nowadays, hiring C-level executives has become a new trend in the industry. Recently, a sizable number of dedicated websites and portals such as for hiring CTO or Chief Technology Officer for startup businesses have emerged in the marketplace.

Why Are More Startups Turning to Hiring Remote CTOs?

According to the Flexjobs information, more than 159% of growth in the remote work market has been noticed during 2005 and 2017 in the US only. A massive uptrend in hiring remote tech-talent is highly prevalent worldwide. Meanwhile, the State of Remote Work 2019 report reveals that software development and IT services are the top 2 industries making over 56% of the entire remote workforce.

Hiring a C-level executive, especially a remote CTO is becoming a new uptrend in startups and SMEs due to numerous reasons. A few important ones are listed below.

  • Cost-saving – The cost of dedicated CTO at the office is huge as compared to hiring a remote CTO. Normally, startups are in cash-crunch. So, they turn to this option due to a competitive remote CTO salary.
  • Increased ROI – Hiring CTO is faster and he/she can increase the speed of technological transformation in the technical infrastructure and resources quicker to improve ROI much faster.
  • Skills and Experience – You can hire a highly skilled CTO with diverse experience in revamping and streamlining resources and infrastructure more effectively at a very affordable price.
  • Flexibility – Hiring a virtual CTO offers huge flexibility to choose from a large pool of experts from across the world. You can choose the right tech-talent for filling a C-level technical position without any constraints and problems. You can also replace your existing CTO with a new one easily if required.  

Responsibilities of a Remote CTO?

A Chief Technology Officer CTO is the head of the engineering or technological department in an organization. He is responsible for fulfilling the technological requirements for achieving the best possible performance of the company. 

The major responsibilities of an expert chief technology officer include the management and utilization of the company’s technological resources including human resources and technical infrastructure efficiently. The effective use of existing resources and adding new technologies that are needed for developing a competitive-edge with the market competitor also form the fundamentals of a CTO’s responsibilities.

The detailed list of responsibilities of a virtual CTO is given below.  

  • Professional assessment of the existing resources and infrastructure
  • Devising strategy for technology use and identifying suitable technologies for the same
  • Implementing cutting-edge technologies to increase business competitiveness
  • Identifying flaws in business process and patching them up with the modern technologies
  • Devising an effective strategy for efficient use of the power of the latest technologies
  • Effective investment in technology and technical resource to improve Return on Investment ROI
  • Reducing business dependency on manual processes and automating them through technology
  • Making business processes in line with industry best practices and standards
  • Devising policy for phase-in, phase-out, migration, and implementation of modern technologies

Top Skills to Look for While Hiring a Virtual CTO?

Hiring a CTO is a very critical process, which needs professional-level expertise to access the skills, experience, and qualifications of a CTO candidate. A remote CTO in startups is supposed to take responsibility for all technical aspects of the company. So, he/she should possess all major skills to achieve those objectives in startups. A few very important skills to look for while hiring a virtual CTO are mentioned below.

Technical Skills

  • Knowledge of network and IT infrastructures such as OS, cloud, internet, and telecom
  • Artificial intelligence AI, automation, data analytics
  • Knowledge of business process management
  • Extensive knowledge of different software tools for process automation
  • Knowledge of communication and collaboration platforms
  • Infrastructure assessment, analytics, and auditing
  • Knowledge of all trending technologies in the IT domain
  • Developing technical requirements – short term and long term
  • Developing the state of the art business solutions powered by the latest technology tools

Soft Skills

  • Detailed-oriented and solution-oriented approach
  • Innovative and creative thinking
  • Great interpersonal communication skills
  • Effective technical understanding
  • Team leader and thinker
  • Problem-solving and pressure handling
  • Professional commitment
  • Motivator and supportive
  • Strategic thinking

Management Skills

  • Budgeting and planning different projects and business processes
  • Conflict management and change management
  • Project planning, implementation, and monitoring
  • Project management methodologies
  • Team management and collaboration
  • Effective reporting and presentation

Top 7 Mistakes to Avoid While Hiring a Remote CTO

A Chief Technical Officer (CTO) plays a pivotal role in the progressive future of modern businesses. So, hiring the wrong person would result in complete devastation. So, a remote CTO should be hired very carefully to avoid the following top mistakes while hiring a remote CTO.

  1. Considering cost as the top priority – Without any doubt, cost is a big factor in any competitive business, but considering cost as the top priority is a big mistake while hiring a remote CTO. You should make a better trade-off between cost, quality, experience, and skills to avoid this mistake. A CTO acts as the technical spine of the company so he/she should not be measured in salary at all.
  2. Focusing on narrow Picture – While hiring a virtual CTO always consider a broader picture of your business and the entire business ecosystem. Don’t confine your thinking to a certain domain such as enhancing existing infrastructure, cutting cost, or adding process automation. Consider the broader picture to improve the performance and business outcome thoroughly.
  3. Overrating skills over experience – Many times, hiring managers make a mistake by focusing unduly on the technical skills rather than counting the experience at large. A CTO is not supposed to work with technical things but he has to plan the effective use of those technologies. In such circumstances, always focus on a balance between skills and experience. 
  4. Missing experience in the relevant field – Experience should be in the field exactly in a similar environment that your company works in. Sometimes, this point is missed, which leads to undesirable results. Always focus on the relevancy of the experience.
  5. Skipping portfolio analysis and feedback – Analyzing portfolios and taking recommendations from past employers is very important in hiring a CTO for startups. This factor is missed in some cases, which may lead to disastrous outcomes.
  6. Forgetting about business acumen – The position of a virtual CTO is not all about the knowledge of technology but the effective use of technology through business acumen to increase the performance, competitiveness, and business process efficiency. Normally, hiring managers commit a mistake to miss this domain during the hiring process.
  7. Mixing rhetoric with creativity – Creativity is not all about talking beautiful quotes and experience. Solving common problems with the most efficient way and thinking out of the box is the most fundamental item for developing innovative solutions. Don’t miss to check-out the creative approach of the CTO.

Final Takeaway

Hiring a professional CTO remotely is possible for startups to earn numerous business advantages such as cost-efficiency, better ROI, and flexibility. The hiring process should be accomplished professionally by finding the right skills and avoiding the most common mistakes while hiring a virtual CTO as mentioned in this article.

Is It Possible to Hire A Remote CTO For A Startup? 7 Pitfalls to Avoid was last updated February 5th, 2021 by Anastasia Stefanuk

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