Viewing archives for CTO

What Does It Take to Stay at the Top of Our Game?

People are the most important part of any business.

We run conferences where we hear from expert speakers and run workshops to share knowledge, skills and experience. So, when you take on one of our Principals you get the benefit of all this training and the whole team!

Here is a snap shot from our most recent conference…

If you would like to know more about one of our Principals becoming part of your senior team, please Contact Us for an informal discussion.

Infographic – The 6 Must Haves of Hiring ‘Simply the Best’ CTO!

Only the sharpest applicants make the Freeman Clarke cut. They posses an enviable range of talents that make them ‘simply the best’! We call these talents, the 6 blades!

Download the infographic to see what we think makes up a game changing Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for your business.

We have created a variety of content on this subject as the demand for CTOs grows rapidly:

Recruiting a CTO is getting harder for mid-market businesses

Why CTOs are on the rise in mid-market businesses (video)

Transform your business and increase revenue using custom software (video)

All of which can be found on our CTO Knowledge Centre Page

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

Why CTOs are On the Rise in Mid-Market Businesses

Many of our clients are using custom software and digital initiatives to drive sales, increase efficiency or improve service. Sometimes they are disrupting entire markets. As a result the requirement for a commercially astute CTO is on the rise. Our Co-Founder and Director Graeme Freeman discusses this in more detail in our video below.

Over the coming weeks we are creating a series of content pieces about CTOs, their role, how to find and recruit  them and the invaluable benefits they provide to a business. All of which can be found on our CTO Knowledge Centre page here.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

How Can a Mid-Market Business Recruit a CTO?

Ambitious mid-market or externally funded start-up businesses are increasingly investing in custom software. Very simply they want to seize new opportunities, to disrupt their markets, and to amplify their value.

This is driving the requirement for more commercially focussed, flexible, experienced CTOs (Chief Technology Officers) who can make a real difference. I recently had a discussion with Graeme Freeman (Co-Founder and Director of Freeman Clarke) about who CTOs are and why so many mid-market businesses are requiring them – below is the summary of our conversation:

Graeme Freeman: So, Martin, can we just start by defining what a CTO does in the mid-market?

Martin Davis: Well, the role varies a lot depending on what the company needs. But the key point is that a high-quality CTO is more than just the person who is accountable for the delivery of the tech. Of course that’s vital, but a proper CTO is widely experienced in business and new ventures and properly contributes to the Board.

Graeme Freeman: So is this an internally facing role?

Martin Davis: Well again that depends what the company needs. Sometimes it’s all about setting strategy and leading software development. A lot of time may be spent dealing with external suppliers.

But, importantly, a CTO should be someone who lends credibility to the venture. For example if there are investors or bankers the CTO has an important role in liaising with them. He or she needs to understand how they think and work.

The CTO may negotiate with suppliers, partners or large customers if necessary.

Graeme Freeman: Why is it getting harder to find CTOs?

Martin Davis: Great technicians who are also leaders and are tuned into business and commercial issues are very hard to find. The market for good people is always very tight, but it’s getting more difficult because demand from companies, large and small, is increasing.

Areas like fintech, proptech, healthtech and edutech are expanding and sucking up lots of great people. And all kinds of businesses are investing in custom software to separate themselves from the market.

The UK is a world-leader in developing new tech-based ideas in many industries and great tech leaders are in demand.

Graeme Freeman: So what options do business leaders in the mid-market have?

Martin Davis: There are really only 3 ways forward.

Option one is go to the market and recruit someone. This is expensive – of course agents or head-hunters charge a very large fee, and the truth is it often goes wrong because it’s very difficult to assess competence and technical talent. And partly because you have to ask yourself whether the best people are available on the market in this way.

Alternatively, companies use interims but they are really just hired-guns and their commitment lasts until they get a call offering them a higher day-rate. Their flexibility is very limited, if there is any lull or hiatus then they will expect to move on.

But our offer is unique. We have built a team of outstanding people, and they work for our clients on a flexible part-time (we call it “fractional”) basis. So they can be heavily involved during busy periods and when things are quieter they can reduce their involvement. They all have first class records, they’ve seen it and done it and we have tested and screened their experience.

They have the backing of our full team, we are completely independent of any suppliers and this is all we do.

Over the coming weeks we are creating a series of content pieces about CTOs, their role, how to find and recruit  them and the invaluable benefits they provide to a business. All of which can be found on our CTO Knowledge Centre page here.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

Hiring an Interim Chief Information Officer

Companies often contact us because they want to hire an Interim Chief Information Officer (interim CIO) and they are looking for an interim CIO agency. The term CIO is often used by larger businesses, or by business owners who have a background in larger companies.

We generally use the term IT Director as this is has a broader meaning and covers a wider range of skills and backgrounds.

What is an Interim CIO?

An interim CIO will generally be a Board-level position and will normally have the following objectives:

  1. a robust, secure, trouble-free infrastructure (eg example desktops, email, phones, network, file storage)
  2. efficient line of business systems including processes, people and technology and everything needed to make this work well (eg training, data standards, documentation)
  3. deliver digital initiatives which probably encompass customers, partners and suppliers
  4. ensure compliance and risk management (eg GDPR, PCI, ISO27001).

Click here to download our CIO CTO and IT Director Job Description

The breadth of each of these points and the balance between them will depend very much on the nature of your business.

The Right Interim CIO for Your Company’s Strategy

It is critical to establish the balance between the 4 points above and to attract an individual who has a track record in your critical areas.

Your company strategy may be to achieve lower price, better service or both. You may be looking to focus on internal efficiency, or excellent online experience. Or you may just need to overcome specific issues or risks. Before embarking on a search, you should untangle these points so you know the kind of interim CIO you’re looking for.

In addition, there are 2 other fundamental questions:

  1. Are you looking for someone to envisage and lead major change, or to manage gradual improvements and fix specific issues?
  2. Are you looking for someone to manage internal teams or external suppliers or both?

There are personality and behavioural differences between people who thrive in situations of major change and those who manage steadier improvements. Similarly, there is a great difference between people who build and enthuse internal teams, and those who manage external suppliers through contracts.

How to Hire an Interim CIO

There are a large number of agencies available for interim CIOs that can be found easily on the web. Senior professionals are very credible so we would advise careful preparation for interview and that you diligently take up references before making any offers.

We advise that you consider the following points in relation to interim CIOs:

We spend a huge amount of our time recruiting the very best CIOs in the business to form our elite team of “fractional CIOs”. Our team are committed to working for our clients for the long-term, on a flexible basis, so during intense periods they can spend the bulk of their time with a client, and during quieter periods then can have a lighter touch to keep the client’s IT on track.

When one of our fractional CIOs joins your senior team then they immerse themselves in your business and aim to be with you for the long-term. We’re completely independent and only recommend the best for you.

There is no lock in to our contracts at all and our clients simply work on a “pay as you go” basis, so our people have to make a difference every day.

We use the term IT Director rather than CIO as it is recognised more broadly in the UK. We use the term fractional rather than interim to emphasise between how we work over the disadvantages of an interim.

If you’d like to discuss in more detail how a fractional CIO can benefit your business, please get in touch via our contact us page or call 0203 020 1864.

Fintech Chief Technology Officers (CTOs)

In any Fintech company the CTO (Chief Technology Office) has a crucial role and finding the right person is a key step in forming a successful venture.

But what exactly is Fintech? We define Fintech very broadly as software that automates and disintermediates services in consumer financial services, payments and investments. These include companies that offer self-service platforms in competition to traditional advisory and offline services. The common factor is simply the pursuit of ways to remove time and effort, to disintermediate, simplify and disrupt entire markets, and to create new value.

This sector is hyper active and the UK, particularly London, leads the world. New aggregators and crowd funding initiatives are launching every week. The adoption of cryptocurrency and blockchain is revolutionising payments, disrupting banking and taxation systems and encouraging the federation of data.

Why this sudden growth and why now?

A number of factors have come together:

Firstly in the UK, funding is generally more available (than other parts of Europe) and the regulatory and tax regimes are favourable. Successful ventures are attracting high valuations and this is feeding back to boost funding and driving interest from entrepreneurs.

Secondly, the banking crisis led many larger firms to a protracted period of reorganisation, cost cutting, and into greater focus on regulation and compliance. Adventurous executives who felt estranged by the new agenda, saw new market opportunities and created their own startups. Ten years on, corporations are launching their own Fintec businesses, often following entrepreneurial approaches.

Thirdly, consumer adoption and trust of technology, especially smartphones, has crossed the Rubicon. Particularly for metropolitan and younger demographics, use of technology for everything is just a given.

And finally, the UK’s and London’s position as a banking, insurance, media, marketing and technology centre provides a critical mass of talent. This together with the availability of start-up and scale-up platforms, ranging from office-space to cloud-based technical environments, has massively reduced the complexity of getting started and capital requirements of launching a new venture.

Where does a CTO fit?

Our commercially astute and experienced CTOs deliver these kinds of software systems for a living. They have excellent knowledge of software architecture and design; of building and leading a team; of driving the product development. This includes the full range of issues including user experience (UX) design, development, testing, dev ops, support, hosting, and back-office design – for both insourced and outsourced development.

But, critically, they can also understand the commercial context and can represent the company with investors, clients and business partners. Their credibility and experience in these situations is as critical as their ability to oversee the team and suppliers and to deliver the software!

Our CTOs are experts in commercialisation and “Go To Market” so they remain focussed on getting products live and creating value.

Experienced and commercially astute CTOs are notoriously difficult to find. Very few individuals have the magic combination of technical and real business experience.

Some companies search for interim CTOs to engage for a defined period. But interim culture is based on a “hired gun” mentality. Their engagement with the business is fleeting and the commitment is simply based on a day rate. Interims can have a “lone wolf” attitude, may not be interested in where the business is going and may have little buy-in to the viability of the software or to its support or commercial arrangements.

Our CTOs immerse themselves in your business and are genuinely part of your senior team. Uniquely our CTOs expect to work flexibly with our clients over the short, medium or long-term but to be a fully committed rather than just another consultant.

To find out more please get in touch by clicking on the contact us button for an informal conversation. Or to read about fast growth CTOs click here.

7 Key Points When Hiring a CIO, CTO or IT Director

The IT leader is a critical role. But what is this role and how do you hire the best at an affordable salary?

There is no generally accepted definition of the differences between the roles of the IT Director, CIO (Chief Information Officer) and CTO (Chief Technology Officer). So for simplicity we use the term IT Director to encompass all 3 roles. In all cases the role covers information systems and the underlying technology. It may encompass strategy, business process and management information, digital and online, and office and facilities management as well.

The term CIO might be more appropriate for a role emphasising business process alignment, management information and business strategy rather than detailed technical leadership. In addition, they are going to be more focused on the operations and delivery of technology including infrastructure and management of third party service providers.

A CTO is generally someone focussed on software development, perhaps for digital projects. Ecommerce and customer interactive systems from social media through to customer portals are going to be where a CTO will be at home. They may be more aligned with marketing and revenue generation, and able to represent the company in relationships with funders and external parties.

An IT Director is perhaps the broadest term. It generally means an individual able to strategically lead all aspects of IT and its usage in business. They should have experience of business systems, software development, projects of all kinds, and IT infrastructure and facilities.

Feel free to use the attached Job Description to give you a template for defining this role.

Key questions to consider when defining the role for your organisation:

1. Who will the individual report to? To work across the whole company, to change processes and how people work, the person needs to be part of the senior team and may need to report to the CEO.

2. Will the individual be responsible for your company’s Digital Vision? If you have plans for ecommerce or social media marketing then will the person be responsible for this?

3. Do you need a supplier manager or team builder? If your IT is largely or wholly outsourced then this requires a leader with strong contract management skills who is very used to commercial negotiation and procurement. If your IT is largely insourced then your IT leader needs the personal style and leadership qualities to inspire and build a team.

4. Is the plan for major projects? The mindset and attitude of a leader who drives change is typically quite different to the person who oversees a steady-state.

5. Is there is already strong technical management in place, or IT infrastructure provision is outsourced to suppliers who have proven themselves technically capable. Or do you need a technical leader to provide technical vision and oversight.

6. Does your business include complicated processes and no existing senior leaders with time to address issues?

7. Is there a clear need for good data management or good management information, or are these issues already covered off by existing roles?

We only hire the best in the business – fewer than 1% of the people who apply to join us are able to successfully complete every stage of our recruitment process.  If you want to talk to us about what one of our team could do for your business then you can get in touch.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

Subscribe to our Business Insights

Plain English board-level briefings focused on technology strategies to deliver competitive advantage and business success.

* Please enter an email address
newnewsletterrecipient

You can unsubscribe at any time.

Thank you.

You’ll now receive regular expert business insights.

Call us on 0203 020 1864 with any questions.

Graeme Freeman
Co-Founder and Director

Subscribe to our Business Insights

Plain English board-level briefings focused on technology strategies to deliver competitive advantage and business success.

* Please enter an email address
newnewsletterrecipient

You can unsubscribe at any time.

Thank you.

You’ll now receive regular expert business insights.

Call us on 0203 020 1864 with any questions.