Posted: 8 Nov 2017
Primarily, a CTO is brought in to oversee the operations of a company; however, their role can be varied to meet the changing demands of the business.
A Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is an integral part of many businesses, with their main responsibilities including overseeing technology acceptance, integration and any technical issues that may arise as a result.
Yet, many in the tech industry are debating whether a CTO should continue to code as part of their daily responsibilities, or if they no longer have the time for it as business architecture design, prototyping and other daily tasks take precedence.
Below, we have taken a look at some of the reasons why a CTO should consider coding as part of their regular duties, alongside circumstances when they should focus their attention elsewhere:
By coding and programming on a regular basis, CTOs can ensure that their skills are relevant and up to date, allowing them to work more effectively with their team of developers and make sure they are being advised appropriately. By incorporating coding tasks into their work schedules, CTOs will also understand the issues that developers are facing and be able to implement appropriate solutions. Many CTOs will also take on any orphaned code as their developers move focus, and then pass it onto new developers as they become integrated into the team.
It is important that CTOs stay connected to the IT world, have an understanding of the current technologies used in their line of work and how to best utilise them because they will be employing their recent knowledge and experiences to make important decisions. Therefore, setting time aside to continue coding is just as important as staying current with new trends and changes in IT security.
Alongside this, it is equally vital that the CTO, and all executives, have an in-depth understanding of their product and know the technical challenges associated with its development. Regularly coding is a way to ensure that this connection is maintained as the product evolves.
If there are engineers who regularly report issues directly to the CTO, it can help team morale for the CTO to be involved in implementing the solutions. Additionally, having an understanding of the organisation’s code base at a source level gives the CTO advantages when estimating timescales, working out feasibility and evaluating how the solutions have performed.
CTOs of a software-based company should have a background in software development. As the company grows, they will then focus more on the high-level architecture and the technical direction of the company, as well as business development and customer interaction.
Alongside these responsibilities, it is good for CTOs to attend and execute code reviews to demonstrate their expert knowledge and convey their care for the quality of the work. If an engineer is reporting to someone who clearly knows their industry inside and out, it helps to build a stronger team cohesion.
But what about situations when the CTO should focus their attention elsewhere?
If a CTO wants to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in, then that is fine, as long as they are not negatively affecting customers or employees. If a CTO writes code and then does not have the time to hand it over or support it properly, they run the risk of angering their customers and frustrating employees. This is when the CTO should be focusing on what is best for the business.
Some CTOs have found that once they analysed and prioritised their tasks, coding was more of a luxury that didn’t benefit the overall progression of the project. A CTO must have the courage to distribute tasks where appropriate to ensure the success of the project, and subsequently, the business as a whole.
The overall consensus is that it is important that CTOs understand the basic level of their business and how every department works so that they can effectively lead their team, as well as follow the product development at every stage. If this includes coding, then CTOs must incorporate this into their tasks; however, CTOs should avoid being invested in the coding process if it will result in a negative impact on the progression of the project, as difficult as that may be for some!
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