Great Chief Technology OfficerYour selection of a chief technology officer is key to your company’s ability to advance in an ever more tech-driven economy. However, the CTO doesn’t report on revenue or constantly deliver new products, so measuring his or her contribution to your company might seem elusive. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any clear-cut ways to measure performance, though. Following are five signs to look for when assessing your company’s chief technology officer or interviewing candidates:

  1. The CTO’s technical strategies align with business strategies: Your business strategy is key to moving your company forward, but if technical plans do not align with them, then your investment in the CTO is wasted. A great chief technology officer applies his/her expertise to developing strong technical strategies that support your overall business approach.
  2. The CTO attracts new talent: As part of implementing technical strategies, your CTO needs to attract top engineering talent to make those strategies work. This is a key part of your CTO’s responsibility to your company, so if new engineers and developers aren’t finding their way to you, then you know who to blame. On the other hand, if you are often hiring stellar tech experts, then your CTO is likely doing a great job.
  3. Current engineering talent is happy: In order to do their best work, your internal tech teams need to know that their work has value. The CTO’s job is to inspire your team with your long-term tech-related goals. Determine whether your team is excited about where your company is headed technologically, and you’ll be able to see what kind of impact your CTO is having.
  4. Internal organizations find value in the CTO’s work: The CEO, marketing, engineering, and business partners should all gain some value from the chief technology officer’s contributions. These contributions include providing advice about the market and industry, acting as a sounding board for new ideas, and generally helping build other organizations. A truly great CTO will be able to do all of these without stepping on anyone’s toes, particularly those of your engineering management.
  5. The CTO is always learning: If your CTO spends his or her free time doing something related to the tech industry, you are getting a lot of value for your investment. The ideal CTO is constantly pursuing knowledge about the latest trends and developing new ideas. This quality is crucial to keeping strategies current and competitive, so keep an eye out for it.

When determining your CTO’s value to your company, one overarching quality will tie all the above attributes together: passion. If the chief technology officer has a real vision of what your company can do and is constantly in touch with the industry, then he/she is probably providing a high-quality return on your investment. If not, then you may need to start searching for a replacement.

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