If you are sitting on a software idea that may very well be the Next Big Thing, you are more than likely researching what technological map you should follow to manifest your gem. Should you be looking for a technology adviser if you are a non-technical co-founder, or a hired gun who can take care of the specific development tasks that will make up your project? The question of using a technology advisor vs developer is one of the most crucial stepping stones to the success of the software development process, and the sooner you figure out the right strategy for your company, the more likely your baby will be born healthy.
We’ve seen the following scenario play out all too often:
A non-technical founder needs to hire a developer to realize their concept. They begin their search and then realize quickly that they don’t know exactly what they are searching for. They continue shooting around in the dark in the hope that they’ll trip over the right person.
They find a freelance developer that looks halfway suitable. Next problem—they don’t know what questions to ask to see if they are, indeed, the right person for the job. They hire them anyway. After all, they have to get this project started. Communication issues abound as they struggle to figure out how to brief the developer to get the results they want and fail to create an overall tech strategy for their project.
If you would like to approach your development process from a more strategic vantage point, our advice would be to start off on the right foot. By having a technology advisor on board from the get-go, you will steer clear of incorrect expectations, avoidable mistakes, and onerous communication breakdowns.
Let’s have a look at what the role of technology advisor entails.
What is a technical advisor?
A technical advisor is essentially your sherpa through the world of tech. For non-technical startup founders, finding the right partner to take your project to fruition is an unparalleled asset. In fact, we would go so far as to say it is non-negotiable.
Rather than someone you hire to complete specific development tasks, a technology advisor will take a deep dive into the technological needs of your company and help you integrate your tech strategies into all elements of your operations—essentially performing the function of a Chief Technology Officer (or CTO).
Consultant vs developer
There are currently many avenues available that will allow you to hire freelance developers with minimal hassle and cost to you. While this is advantageous if you have a coding job that needs to be completed within very well-defined parameters, this is far from ideal if you are a startup that does not have in-house technological expertise at your disposal.
This is where a technological advisor steps in.
Think of your technical consultant as a translator between you and the tech world. They will function as the bridge between you and your developers, ensuring that your job is done to the specifications you had in mind when you set out. They will function as your advocate and can manage the technical deliverables from your external development team.
Not only will they open up the communication channels between you and your developers, but they will also allow you to communicate expertly with investors. Investors scrutinize your other co-founders and advisors very critically. The last thing you want is to pitch yourself as the founder of a tech startup and not be able to back it up with sufficient technological know-how.
Don’t wait until it is too late to realize that your technology requirements may have lacked the necessary clarity for your developer to meet them, or that you have not paid sufficient heed to issues of scalability, your technology stack, or appropriate development frameworks.
If you are convinced that finding a technology advisor is imperative when it comes to the success of your project, the next question is how:
Finding your technology advisor
The good news is you are no longer limited to the option of hiring someone in-house to fulfill the function of technology advisor. Traditionally, the position of CTO has been an internal one, but as the needs of the industry have changed, the idea of outsourced CTO companies has become more prevalent. You may, for example, receive recommendations from your investors for a CTO they’ve worked with in the past. This CTO could then be tasked with finding the right team to take you from idea to launch to maintenance. Another option would be to search for an end-to-end software development partner that can handle each step of the process.
CTO as a service
As you start on the journey to finding the ideal technology advisor for your company, ask the following two questions:
What is your track record? Ask to see specific examples of their previous work. Have they managed projects that meet (and hopefully exceed) the scale of yours? Can they provide references that back this up?
Do you specialize in working with startups? While they may have expert technical knowledge, unless they understand the entrepreneurial aspect of working with startups, they are not right for you. Remember that they have to be able to advise you on questions of scalability, liaise with funders, and understand how testing for new products and services works. This goes beyond having tech prowess.
Lastly, take advantage of resources like the Co-Founders Lab that will link you to the right partner for your enterprise.
Finding the ideal technological adviser will take you to the point where you are able to start on the road to successful startup launch.
You wouldn’t try to build cars for a living without an automotive expert on board, or start a farm without the expertise of an agriculturalist. Why should your tech startup be any different?