What is a Fractional CTO

This post focuses on describing what a Fraction CTO role generally looks like


Mike Conley

1/27/20232 min read

a diagram of a business process
a diagram of a business process

What is a Fractional CTO

A Fractional CTO is a highly experienced technology leader who provides strategic guidance and support to organizations on a part-time or project basis and is typically remote. This type of C-level executive fills the role of a traditional CTO, but without the commitment of full-time employment. Some Fractional CTO offer their services on project bases or to support existing CTO's

Fractional CTOs bring a wealth of expertise and experience to the table, having worked in a variety of industries and with a wide range of technologies. They are able to provide valuable insights into the latest industry trends and technologies, and can help organizations stay ahead of the curve.

One of the primary role of a Fractional CTO is to create and implement a technology roadmap that aligns with the organization's overall goals and objectives. This includes identifying and evaluating new technologies, creating a plan for implementing them, and managing the process from start to finish. They also can provide things like guidance on data management, cybersecurity, and IT infrastructure, ensuring that the organization's technology systems are secure, efficient, and scalable. Some even have experience in speciality roles like Enterprise Architecture.

Fractional CTOs are particularly well-suited for small and medium-sized businesses, start-ups, and non-profit organizations that may not have the resources or need for a full-time CTO. They are also well-suited for organizations that are undergoing digital transformations or looking to scale their technology infrastructure.

Fractional CTO services provide organizations with the expertise of a full-time CTO, but on a part-time or project basis. This allows organizations to access the benefits of a CTO without the cost and commitment of a full-time employee.

Often, Fractional CTOs contract specifies a specific number of hours to perform specific duties.

Fractional CTO often gets confused with Virtual CTOs, and they are indeed similar roles. Virtual CTOs are always virtual and usually full-time, while Fractional can be either, but lately trend towards virtual. Fractional CTOs often accept roles on a project by project basis with a limited number of hours monthly. They may perform recruiting but less often do the people management. Virtual CTO does what a Fractional CTO would, but also includes all the other duties a full-time CTO would perform. Including people management.

That said, a contract may spell out any combination of CTO services for either a fractional or Virtual CTO role.