When it comes to filling their executive leadership roles, nonprofit organizations and small businesses face a difficult dilemma. They need high-quality executives to oversee key functions and ensure that operations hum along, day in and day out. But all too often, the reality is that these types of organizations don’t have unlimited budgets.
This means, for many, that the financial burden that comes with hiring a full-time executive team unfortunately outweighs the potential benefits. This makes it difficult to round out their executive team with specialized roles like a chief technology officer (CTO). Luckily, there’s another option for these organizations. In this blog, we’re taking a look at fractional executive services—specifically, fractional CTO services. To help you better understand whether or not a fractional CTO is the right fit for your organization, we’ll answer a few pointed questions:
First, the CTO abbreviation stands for chief technology officer. As you might expect, this role largely centers around overseeing the processes related to selecting, developing, and integrating technology-driven solutions for key organizational priorities.
For example, chief technical officer roles and responsibilities include things like:
Their work also deals with developing technology leadership and governance, as well as research and development initiatives. Moreover, how a CTO approaches these responsibilities impacts the customer or client experience as well as organizational considerations like revenue impact, cost-benefit analysis, and return on investment (ROI) analysis for the technologies they use.
A fractional CTO is an individual who serves in a technology management/leadership role on something other than a full-time, salaried basis. The “fractional” name is deliberate, as this type of executive typically works a fraction of the time, perhaps on a fraction of projects. This means cost savings for organizations with particularly tight budgets. Before hiring a fractional CTO, though, nonprofits should be sure to weigh the cost-saving pros against your needs. In other words, an interim CTO or part-time CTO may not be the best solution if you’re expecting to rely on your CTO for a “full plate” of responsibilities.
In a majority of cases, the CTO will either report directly to the chief executive officer (CEO) or chief information officer (CIO). It largely depends on the size of the organization and their leadership/executive needs. According to Gartner research, organizations are split on this question:
It’s worth noting that In smaller organizations, there may be a lot of overlap between the CIO and CTO roles, but in larger organizations each of these roles has its own focus. To put it simply, CIOs focus on internal processes and tools, while the CTO focuses more on how technology can enhance the customer or client experience.
How many people report to the CTO will vary depending on how the organization is structured and what the most pressing needs are. In smaller organizations—like many nonprofits—the depth chart might not be too deep, meaning the CTO may only have a couple direct reports. These would likely be the heads of other relevant departments, particularly IT leadership. In larger, more sophisticated organizations, it might make sense for other teams to also engage directly with the CTO. It all depends on what the organizational chart (org chart) looks like and what the most pressing needs are.
Next, let’s look at a few key questions you should be asking yourself if you’re considering fractional CTO services.
First, consider why you need a CTO, so you can find the best fit for the job—and budget—whether that means a full-time CTO or relying on fractional executive services for the role. The most common reasons nonprofit organizations consider hiring a CTO include:
Next, consider something like CTO as a service, another variation of the part-time or interim CTO role. That’s where Computers in Ministry (CIM) provides unique value to nonprofit organizations. In addition to offering end user services and technology training, CIM also offers CIO and CTO Services for nonprofit organizations looking to:
At CIM, we understand the growing pains that come with managing a modern nonprofit organization. What’s more, we believe that your mission should drive your technology—not the other way around! With over 25 years of experience under our belts, we’ve empowered over 100 nonprofits with solutions tailored to their unique needs.
Unsure where to start? Consider taking our online Technology Assessment Tool to get started, or contact us for technology training, keynote speaking, support, resources, or just to get to know us.