The Full Guide to CTO Outsourcing: Best Tips

Published: September 21, 2018

9 min read

Last updated: June 17, 2022

Most great Startups are created by creative visionaries who come up with fresh ideas for solving specific problems of their customers. However, it’s not the idea itself but the Digital Product that solves this problem.

Moreover, there’s oftentimes a confident tech professional who covers the back of such an enthusiast. Think of Steve Wozniak behind Steve Jobs or Werner Vogels behind Jeff Bezos. In this article, we'll try to help those of you who might be missing your own Steve Wozniak by walking you through the details of Chief Technical Officer Outsourcing.

There's always a cool Chief Technology Officer in every great project

There's always a cool Chief Technology Officer in every great project (image by Denis Dsgn)

In case you're a non-programmer, you may need to outsource some experience that is crucial to launch a successful Product: for instance, picking up the right tech stack to build a scalable MVP that meets your budget & roadmap or structuring the Scrum Development team in the best way. This is exactly the experience that CTOs provide you with.

Surely, it doesn’t mean that you should abandon your Product if there’s no CTO on your team. But in most cases, having someone from the tech field to work on the project alongside is really helpful.

By outsourcing a CTO and not partnering with someone in-house, you can find a tech expert in any corner of the world, at any budget, and with any kind of experience relevant to your project.

Actually, a CTO-as-a-service is a perfect interim solution that can cover most of your needs before you manage to hire an in-house CTO for your core team.

🤔 When Outsourced CTO Services Are Relevant to Your Startup?

When surfing the Internet, you may find different opinions regarding Outsourced CTO Services. While some are totally against the idea, others say you may never need an In-House CTO if you outsource the relevant tasks to a decent external specialist.

We at Stormotion believe that in the long-term perspective, your Startup will most likely need an internal CTO who will be fully committed to the project.

However, finding a great specialist to become a part of your Product Development Family is a tricky task that does not tolerate haste. Why? Because if you don’t have a technical Co-Founder with an entrepreneurial mindset who really believes in your business idea, it’s quite a challenge to convince them of your idea/product prior to securing some funding.

An interim CTO can help you a lot

An interim CTO can help you a lot (image by Anna Orlova)

On the other hand, an Outsourced CTO can lead your software development team and start accomplishing steps in the Roadmap of your company right away, during the early stages, and while you’re looking for an In-House Partner. That's the advantage of outsourcing — your development processes move and you don't spend your time looking for the right person instead of actually building the product.

With all of the above in mind, you’ll most likely benefit from CTO Outsourcing (it’s also known as CTO-as-a-service) in the following cases:



💡 Idea Stage

In case you don’t have a technical Co-Founder on the team, the benefit is that the interim CTO will help you define the technology stack for the MVP of your Digital Product. They can also help to build the product development team to create it.

💸 Angel Funding Stage

At this stage, investors usually don’t ask for a Chief Technology Officer in the core team. So, if you’ve already received your Angel funding and are searching for a CTO, you can hire a Remote CTO that will meanwhile help with building the product, setting up good Agile ceremonies in the team, and generally supporting your business Software Development Lifecycle. But we recommend using this time wisely - while the development is on the go, you can already be looking for a CTO for the in-house team.

💰 Seed Funding Stage

You have a product, maybe even some first paying customers, and need to further improve the platform. The interim CTO can help to iterate your product and hand over the processes to your new full-time in-house CTO, once you've found one.

A good start is half the battle, they say. Having a skillful and experienced CTO during the early stages increases your chances to win this battle and set up the SDLC (software development lifecycle) and Agile-ceremonies within the Scrum Team in an effective and appropriate way from the very beginning.

Let's take a look at some other benefits of using a CTO-as-a-Service in a Software Company?

Read Also

[How and Why] Outsource Your Mobile App Development?

👍 Top 5 Reasons Why CTO Outsourcing will Help your Startup Grow

Firstly, an Outsourced CTO will pick up tools for the Tech Stack that match your business Product requirements and funding in such a way that you’ll get a Scalable MVP ready for the market. Moreover, using the right technologies can help you achieve your business goals faster and in a cheaper way.

Secondly, the same MVP can be then presented to Investors. Having some ready-to-use product, even quite simple, will help you get funding for marketing and further expansion of your Technical Team.

An Outsourced CTO can increase the chances of your project to be noticed by the investors

An Outsourced CTO can increase the chances of your project to be noticed by the investors (image by Henry Doe)

Thirdly, since you have all the technology tasks assigned to the interim person, you can fully concentrate on finding a full-time In-House CTO, who mostly matches your Startup. No need to hurry up and hire an unremarkable candidate for the CTO position just because you need to fill the spot as fast as possible.

Additionally, an interim CTO can set up the right workflow and ceremonies in your Agile Team without your involvement so you can focus on Fundraising, PR, Customer Acquisition, and other business activities that are crucial for Early-Stage Startups.

Last but not least, they can help you build a passionate, aimed at the result Product Team by conducting interviews with potential candidates, making code reviews, onboarding new employees, performing Scrum Mastering, etc.

Read Also

How Can Outstaffing Mobile app Development Relieve Your Headache?

Want to build a successful In-House Team? An interim CTO can help with this, too!

Want to build a successful In-House Team? An interim CTO can help with this, too! (image by Brucira)

But how to find & hire an outsourced CTO that will be able to deliver the mentioned benefits to your Startup? For this matter, we've listed several recommendations in the next paragraph.

📋 How to Outsource a CTO: a Step-by-Step Instruction

It seems that the CTO-as-a-service concept becomes more and more widespread among young Digital Startups. However, the flow to Outsource a CTO still doesn’t seem to be as clear as for hiring a new developer. Let us share a few friendly recommendations that will make the whole process more predictable, manageable, and straightforward.

Step 1: Where to look for an interim Chief Technology Officer? 🔎

There are several options to choose from when you’re in need of a Remote Tech Guru. Here they are:

# 1: Get the most out of your industry connections

If you aren’t new to the Startup Community and have some CTOs or Developers from other companies as friends, you may ask them for help.

Already have got some connections? Use them to find your remote officer CTO!

Already have got some connections? Use them to find your remote officer CTO! (image by Natalie Kirejczyk)

Despite it shouldn’t cost you much, don’t forget that they are already busy with their own Projects. Therefore, don’t expect them to be fully focused on your Startup and ready to spend more than a few hours a day to assist you. In fact, you’ll get a friendly advisor rather than a dedicated CTO, which is already amazing but puts some limitations on you.

# 2: LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a huge social network for professionals, which means that it provides you with broad possibilities to Outsource a CTO. How?

Well, you can simply conduct a search using the “Interim CTO” or “Freelance CTO” queries. You’ll probably find a few candidates who already had some interim CTO experience that’s relevant to your Project as well.

However, being a freelancer means working on several projects at the same time in most cases. This may lead to the situation when your Outsourced CTO isn’t engaged with your startup as much as you’d like them to.

There's always room for negotiation, freelancers can work on one big project at a time as well, but such matters are something you have to personally discuss with potential candidates.

# 3: CTO-as-a-Service companies

In case you don't want to spend your time looking for the right candidate, there are companies that specialize in CTO Outsourcing.

We don't think that CTO Outsourcing companies are a good solution

We don't think that CTO Outsourcing companies are a good solution (image by Lera)

This option has quite a lot of benefits since they have enough experience in providing CTO-as-a-service solutions and already have proven workflows to ensure smooth cooperation with the client. However, there are also some concerns that we have about working with third-party CTO-as-a-Service companies.

Our concerns regarding CTO Outsourcing companies:

  • Since it’s quite a usual kind of work for them, your Startup isn’t going to be special so you may feel a lack of enthusiasm and no passion — just a desire to make money and switch to another project.
  • They don’t have a Tech-Team, which can really build the product. This leads us to the next point.
  • If a company provides only CTO Outsourcing services but has no real experience in delivering successful scalable Products on their own, how likely are you to hire advisers instead of doers?

# 4: A Product Development Agency with a proven Record

Finally, one of the most reasonable options in our opinion is to find a partner represented by a Mobile/Web Development Agency. The pros and cons of this solution are the following:

Why we believe that you should choose a Dev Agency:

  1. You’ll find a Rockstar Scrum Team which has solid experience in delivering Scalable [Digital Products](http:// and knows how the development Lifecycle should look like from the inside.
  2. As a rule of thumb, Agencies unite many experts in different fields (for example, Native or Cross-Platform Development, Payment methods integration, Push Notifications Services implementation, etc.). Since they know a lot of alternative technologies and approaches to choose from, they will pick up the Tech Stack that really suits your Project the best.
  3. Moreover, every good Dev Agency has its own internal Agile ceremonies and productivity tricks, so, they can easily share their best practices with your future In-House Squad.

However, we’d like to remind you that all the options above are temporary solutions to cover your needs while you’re looking for an In-House CTO for your team.

Step 2: How to understand that a candidate is a perfect match? 🤝

During your search, you are likely to come up with at least a few candidates to choose from. Eventually, you’ll have to define who suits your project better than others. What is the best way to do this? Hold an interview.

From our experience, we’d recommend you to split your Job Interview into 2 parts: technical and product ones.

The main aim of the Technical Part is to understand whether the previous development experience of the candidate will be useful to your software startup. Possible questions at this stage are:

  1. What Projects have you worked on?
  2. Have you ever delivered similar Projects?
  3. In what fields do you have the most experience? This may be Native/React Native development, Augmented Reality, wearables integration, etc.
  4. How your experience can be useful to our Startup?
  5. How are you going to set up a smooth workflow within the Dev Team? Notice: we at Stormotion use a particular set of Agile ceremonies that help us stay productive, so your candidate should keep some sort of strategy to use too.

If you'd like to learn more about how our Agile Development is structured, you can take a look at the article about our Project Management Flow:

Read also:

What Stormotion's Project Management Flow Looks Like

Divide the interview a candidate into 2 parts

Divide the interview a candidate into 2 parts (image by Tregg Frank)

The second part of the interview — the Product Part — is even more important than the tech one in a certain way. How can even the best Development Guru be useful to you if they don't understand your product and can’t effectively apply their knowledge in practice?

Therefore, you also should ask a candidate for an Outsourced CTO position the following questions (to make sure that they understand your mission):

  1. Who is the Target Audience of our Product?
  2. What are the pain points of our Target Audience and how is our Product going to resolve it?
  3. What type of Product would users prefer: a mobile app, a website, or they’re going to switch between both options from time to time?
  4. How do you see an MVP of our Startup? What should it include?
  5. What should be our priority tasks in regards to the Product Development as of now?

Even though these questions are responsibilities of CPOs or CEOs as well, by asking those, you’ll clearly see if the candidate is inspired by your mission and suits the position of an Outsourced CTO in your Software Company the best.

Insights from Stormotion: don’t forget to attach an NDA to your offer. This document will keep your "project information" safe during and after your cooperation with an interim CTO.

Step 3: Set up a smooth communication flow 💬

Unlike an In-House CTO, your Outsourced CTO will probably work with you remotely. However, all the downsides of remote cooperation can be easily neglected by setting up a correct communication system.

Pick up the right communication toolkit

Pick up the right communication toolkit (image by Ana Hill)

As the Development Team that normally works on projects remotely, we often have to get the maximum contact with our clients from other parts of Europe and the World using software tools

These are the ones that we find the most useful and user-friendly:

  • Slack — to manage communication within the team;
  • Skype or Hangouts — to report to our clients (P. S. We at Stormotion prefer Hangouts)
  • Trello, Jira — to establish a transparent and clear task management process.

Read Also

The 8 Most Critical Mistakes in Outsourcing Application Development

💡 Takeaways

Quite a lot of early-stage Startups feel the lack of a strong technical leader in their teams. After all, a CTO position is more about coming up with development ideas, supervising, and structuring software teams rather than writing code.

CTO Outsourcing provides you with a temporary solution to cover your needs until you find a perfect In-House Tech Guru. A proper specialist can help you build the backbone of your company from the tech perspective and head the development in the right direction.

If you’ve checked some of our articles & projects and want Stormotion to play the CTO-role in your startup - just hit the button below. We’ll be happy to be your Partner and build your Digital Product together with you!

Get Your Perfect Interim CTO!

Read also

How can we help you?

Our clients say

Stormotion client Max Scheidlock, Product Manager from [object Object]

They understand what it takes to be a great service provider, prioritizing our success over money. I think their approach to addressing ambiguity is their biggest strength. It definitely sets them apart from other remote developers.

Max Scheidlock, Product Manager