Technology Strategy

You need a new Technology Strategy or you need to refine the existing one. You cannot outsource this task to OPE AG, but Olli Perttilä can help you in the process.

This offering is relevant to Software houses and other companies that feel technology is playing such a major role in their business that they need to discuss it on a strategic level.

The Problem Landscape

The CTO's, "Technical Leads" - or whatever their title is - are often under quite heavy workload. They are supposed to make the long term decisions that potentially affect the company success for years to come, but often they are also the "firemen" handling the disaster recovery when things go wrong. In addition, they are often extremely valuable in sales cases and people ask their help in technical problems - which in technology companies are constant.

In addition, many of them have started their careers as programmers and that is where their fundamental strength and comfort zone still is. It may be that there is a communication barrier between the business leaders and/or the Board of Directors: both have the company's best interest in mind, but as they look at the things from different angles: technical and business, neither of the parties feels that they are understood by the other.

These problems are especially common in growing dynamic companies. I know this from a personal experience. To not give a wrong impression here, I must note at this point though, that I personally have a huge respect to all boards I have worked with in my career as a CTO. Perhaps the reason is that I was also a member in them...

Solution

The simple solution to the problem above is that the CTO needs help and support from peer level: someone who has been there and done that. In addition to solving the problem above, that peer support may also help in new situations: it is not always necessary that we all make the same mistakes: perhaps - at least sometimes - we can also learn from the mistakes of others.

CTO Coaching

The CTO coaching is especially a useful tool when there is a clear need for change:

CTO coaching is a way to help the CTO or Technical Lead to gather the thoughts and the experience and convert that to a communicable strategy suggestion on which the upper management or the Board of Directors can make a decision upon. Such strategy should take the technology considerations as its starting point, but eventually convert those concerns to a business decision based on which costs can be estimated, resources can be allocated and implementation plans made.

To support this, Olli Perttilä works as peer support gathering the thoughts that come from the Technical Lead and potentially formulates them in a paper / presentation. This process involves asking some difficult questions, giving some suggestions, but at the end the essence of the strategy still must come from within the company.

Board Member with Technology focus

This variation of the service starts from the premise that in a technology company, technology strategy has such an important role in the future of the company that the understanding must be present on the Board level. This can be either the Board of Directors or in a separate Advisory Board.

The idea is that one of the board members takes the technology focus and spends the extra time needed in getting to know what is happening in the technology landscape. Much of this role is often being a liaison - essentially a translator - between the CTO or Technical Leads and the Board. Compared to Coaching, it is longer term commitment and thus more expensive, but also has more chances of succeeding if real change is needed even with resistance within the organization.

I strongly believe that an external consultant can never create a successful strategy for the company without the internal support: without the responsible people being supportive to the strategy. Technology strategy is no exception. However, a strong Board of Directors should be able to break the resistance and change the future of the company if it is necessary. It is difficult and should not be taken lightly. But it is possible.

Normally however, change should not be driven through conflict. It is a long term process and business as usual. In any case, if the technology choices are significant part of the success of the company, perhaps then that competence should also be represented in the Board.

How much?

Coaching is always planned an billed by the hour/day: We agree beforehands that e.g. Olli Perttilä spends one man-week during the next month and the cost is x euro.

Board position is a case-by-case discussion: There we are not talking just about a project, but a long term commitment to develop a company and look for the best interest of its owners. I am not willing to take more than external 2-3 board positions even in the long term to keep the relationship between myself and the company meaningful. Besides the meeting fee, the significant factors on my side in deciding on a particular board position are my interest and believe in the business of the company and the possibility of obtaining shares of the company.

Please contact me to get an idea of the costs involved in your particular case.

Picture of Olli Perttilä Last updated by Olli Perttilä on 29.5.2009
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