What is a vCTO and what role can they play in your business’ success?

12 Aug, 2022

There are many reasons your organisation may not be looking to hire an in-house CTO – especially at different points of your company’s growth. But does that mean you should forgo the expert direction a CTO can provide in regards to integrating your organisation’s IT strategy with your overall business objectives? 

Businesses without specific technology direction can all too easily choose products, deployment schedules, vendors and services that are not best suited to their needs – ultimately creating more problems than they solve. 

So what should organisations that don’t have the workload or budget to sustain the full-time hire of a CTO do? A Virtual CTO – also known as CTO consulting or CTO as a service – can be a valuable alternative. In terms of business growth, technical security and customer and staff experience, there’s a lot a Virtual CTO can offer.

What is a Virtual CTO?

A Virtual CTO (vCTO) is a consulting service that fulfils the same role as a CTO – but for businesses of any size, at a competitive price point, and only when required. A vCTO would oversee your organisation’s technology needs and take responsibility for evaluating, implementing and managing technological initiatives. Their mission is to avoid inefficiencies and leverage technology to your organisation’s maximum benefit, while aligning with the greater business objectives. 

A vCTO gives organisations access to specialised expertise – including the practical knowledge of other organisations, industries, trends and practices – without having to commit to a full-time hire or its associated workload. 

When working with a 9Yards vCTO specifically, you will have one dedicated professional as your consultant – but you will also have the backing of our full information architecture and strategy services, our IP and our talented team.

How is vCTO different from other consulting services?

The key difference between vCTO services and other consulting arrangements is the scope. At 9Yards, like a CTO, we’re always looking beyond the immediate perspective of a project – it’s important that we can balance your technological needs with your greater business and financial goals, and also contextualise the ripple effects a technological project will have on your greater organisational ecosystem.

For us, our other consulting arrangements tend to have a set focus and scope – helping a client select a solution to deliver a business capability, or designing a target state architecture and corresponding roadmap. 

Our vCTO engagements, on the other hand, are an ongoing commitment, arranged around regular check-ins which facilitate: 

  • pulse checks of current activities
  • progress against roadmaps and plans
  • a forum to escalate risk, issues, opportunities and successes.

When to engage a vCTO

Broadly speaking, if your organisation’s core activity is not technology, it is not likely that you need a full-time CTO. But in today’s environment, there’s not a business out there that doesn’t have technological needs. Where your needs are getting more complex – or you aren’t across all the opportunities available to you – it’s a prudent idea to engage a vCTO.  

We are often brought in to provide vCTO services when:

  • Your organisation is having difficulty keeping up with the changing demands of technology
  • Technology issues in your office are becoming a drain on productivity, morale and/or budgets
  • You see value in continuous IT services rather than emergency quick fixes
  • Your business is struggling to keep up with tech trends, standards and compliance 
  • regulations
  • You are losing money and/or opportunities due to a lack of technological efficiencies. 

At 9Yards, we often begin providing ongoing vCTO support after an initial scope of strategic work. We find we can provide a lot of value to an organisation that is following a roadmap to realise an initiative over the span of a number of years.

For a more specific perspective, see an overview of our vCTO work with Catholic Development Fund

Scalable support while working with a Virtual CTO

The flexibility a vCTO can provide is one of the most appreciated features of this type of arrangement. In the case of a major digital transformation, for example, a vCTO can provide great value during the initial strategic phase – developing a plan and producing a detailed roadmap to realise it. 

Then, during implementation scheduled contact hours typically scale back – often to a weekly or fortnightly cadence – while your workforce carries out the long-term strategic roadmap. Where there are more complex phases or specific sprints, you can dial up the support again. 

The ability to scale support up and down in tempo with your needs, while maintaining a big-picture vision for your success is what makes vCTO a highly valuable solution.

See how a vCTO could support your organisation in 22/23

If you’re wondering how a vCTO could help your organisation thrive with technological solutions, please get in touch. Our team is on hand to discuss your unique requirements and opportunities.