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How Hiring a Fractional CTO is Different from Hiring a DevShop

Definition: DevShop

“A software development shop, or DevShop – sometimes also called dev agency – is a company that provides a range of services for building software products. The products can be websites, web-based apps, or native apps.” – Varun Omprakash, Flixiple 

When a DevShop is acquired to build technology, they are tasked to deliver the software based on specified requirements. They handle the development of the software, work through some iterations to the client’s satisfaction. Such agencies often offer premium services such as search engine optimization – SEO, branding, future maintenance, and UI/UX design. 

Definition: Chief Technology Officer

A Chief Executive Officer is a senior executive with responsibility for managing the technological requirements of a company. In a startup environment, often founders meet the challenge of attracting the right technical Co-founder to bring the technological pieces into reality and to try a business proof of concept.

Enter the outsourced world of development. At this point, a founder has a few options to choose from and we weigh these options carefully here. Apart from self-education, founders may want to hire a full-time CTO. However, early-stage startups may find it difficult to meet payroll with the going rates for full-time employees, especially talented and capable ones. In these cases, outsourcing becomes a viable option. 

Definition: Fractional CTO

Fractional CTOs are CTOs who are not full-time employees and are sought out as on-demand services, such as part-time or as-needed support. Fractional CTO services often cost less than hiring a full-time CTO, and they come with the added advantage of working with a team of CTOs instead of just one. The fractional CTO is often created to offer services to startups, but they can also provide value to companies utilizing different business models, such as a two-sided marketplace, SaaS, or hardware vendor.

DevShop: Pros!

A DevShop can offer fast project kickoff and could be more reliable than hiring a freelance developer. They may be able to scale projects based on their in-house capability and collective development experience.

DevShops also may offer cost savings, especially in a business’s early stages. If chosen carefully, one may find DevShops with experienced developers who deliver the product, whether it is a website, platform, or app that functions well according to specifications. 

DevShop: Cons!

Challenges with working with a DevShop are: 

  1. During the development process, they don’t necessarily understand the business. Often a business owner needs a technical co-founder to help create solutions to existing problems through technology. If the technical part is built without a deep understanding of the business proposition, developers may build redundant software that looks great but could use much improvement in aligning with the mission. This happens when they don’t have a clear grasp of the big picture.
  2. Typically, DevShops start off by asking for a list of requirements. In startups that are not clear about these requirements, the end result would be a product that the founders do not want and is different from what should go to market.
  3. Due to their status as developers, they may not have experience with startup methodology. A developer may not have the expertise to help the founders develop a strategy and roadmap prior to defining technology requirements.

Overall, DevShops may come with a steep price tag, and may be risky for just the development of the initial product. The technical experience of developers within these agencies may vary, therefore carefully evaluating the DevShop is important before engaging. 


Fractional CTO: Pros!

In essence, engineering departments must create value for the business. CTOs should never lose sight of the fact that technology exists to support the business, even when building new technology is exciting (and even fun). 

Working with a fractional CTO comes with several advantages, including the security that your professionals have years of experience in the field. Having learned from multiple years of successes and failures, they have accumulated knowledge to guide startups away from mistakes and non-viable and time-wasting activities. The deep expertise that comes from a fractional CTO allows them to know which features to implement and identify potential problems in the business that may stretch beyond just technology. They are able to incorporate a broad range of technologies in the accomplishment of their goals and are skilled at mitigating business and security risks.

By utilizing their knowledge within their professional network, fractional CTOs can combine their leadership expertise in business with technical experience effectively. When you work with a fractional CTO, it is likely that you will work with a network however some work individually. 

Those in a network make use of their collective experience to help fill any gaps in an individual person’s knowledge. Using both their internal and external network, the company creates efficient and scalable products.

In addition, they are capable of identifying and recruiting qualified technical staff. Hence, a fractional CTO can effectively communicate, understand the organization’s mission, and identify technological issues that require resolution. They are able to prioritize between tasks efficiently and collaborate effectively with the CEO with an understanding of the tools. In addition to understanding how people think and work, they can anticipate the needs of customers and other employees, anticipating their reactions to new technology.

Technology problems such as poor quality can often be resolved by selecting the right team and setting up an efficient environment. The way in which engineering processes and operations are arranged and executed plays a significant role in how the business can obtain value from the team, and in whether or not it will enable people to be successful. 

Fractional CTO: Cons

Using a fractional CTO might prove to be beneficial and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner! One issue that larger companies face is the need for a CTO to be involved in long-term planning. Coordination and implementation of a five- to ten-year plan would require them to be on board for longer periods of time. However, fractional CTOs might not be ideal for large companies because they may be involved in multiple companies for short periods of time. 


Knowing and understanding these factors is crucial in considering the use of a fractional CTO. The ideal setting for one would be with a small to medium-sized company that is growing and is in need of technical leadership for their advancement and growth in their industry. NuBinary’s specialists have worked with companies in vastly different industries, creating the crucial and central technology needed to make them a success. 

To learn more about the previous projects and examples, visit our website here. Our team has more than 100 years of combined leadership experience! Contact us today to learn more about how we can bring our leadership and technical experience to benefit your organization. 

Related Articles: Top 13 Qualities of a Successful CTO