Jack of All Stacks,
Master of None

You are either planning on asking too much from your in-house technical team… Or you already have.
MARCH, 2018

In an era of tech tycoons, CTOs and leaders do not have to look far for external validation that building a large in-house team can yield powerful results. For every example of a successful software mogul there are countless "alternative endings" where the story of assembling an in-house team is like taking a turn at the Wheel of Fortune. Before taking a spin, tech executives should consider how a digital partner can leverage the CTO's skill sets and boost their capacity while de-risking the product and execution.

CTOs chance quality, time, and money when building an in-house team. Tech stacks are ever-changing and complicated. Building a team to work towards a product roadmap requiring design, front-end engineering, back-end engineering, and mobile optimization all while integrating with third-party APIs under tight deadlines is the recipe for poor execution and broken promises.
In practice, most digital products are the results of many fractional skill sets. In-house teams are often resource and capital constrained leaving engineers spread thin and forced to learn, in-flight, several different programming languages and skills.
In this manner, building a digital product is not so different than building a house. If you're handy enough, you could probably complete the construction yourself. But it is likely you will spend a lot of time learning on the job and subject your project to a lot of costly rework. Ultimately, the project will finish behind schedule and with questionable quality – especially when compared to the house next door built by a team of craftsmen.

Compounding this risk, should the CTO find their team is underwater or underqualified, they will be forced to manage an at-risk product while moonlighting to backfill their technical needs. Recruiting can be slow and painful. Once complete, there is still the transition period.

When a CTO engages the right digital partner, they gain access to a breadth and depth of skill sets and experiences that cannot be assembled in-house. Access to qualified talent and fractional resources empowers the CTO to seamlessly change the composition and velocity of their delivery team – or pivot their product. Moreover, leaders introducing a digital partner to their product reduce the concentration risk associated with in-house teams.
Don't create a keyman…
The excitement of building a product combined with the gusto leaders naturally have around assembling a team can overshadow the potential risks and drawbacks of relying entirely on an in-house team.
The dramatic risk everyone first considers is, what if this is not a good fit? The emotional capital expensed when unwinding a relationship with an underperforming team member can be taxing. This is a red herring. Yes, you've invested a lot in sourcing, hiring and training. Yes, you've started to build a personal connection which makes a divorce even more painful. However, what CTOs should really protect is not emotional capital, but intellectual.

Keyman risk can kill a company. The process of creating this is formulaic. When CTOs get out of the driver seat and hand the keys to an in-house technical team, a lynchpin is born. As domain knowledge increases over time, the juggernaut grows. This if further amplified when the technical team wears several different hats while building a digital product. In other words, the smaller the team the greater the concentration of knowledge.

Bringing in a third-party is a natural way for CTOs to increase their development velocity and quality while diversifying and mitigating risk. CTOs have the opportunity to start small, scale fast, and change quickly. It is common for a digital product to experience a few twists and turns during their journey – having access to on-demand talent makes it easier to fine-tune or pivot your product market fit. While a digital partner does have drawbacks, we believe our True Partnership model culls many concerns and aligns incentives.

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