Disclaimer: We love efficiency and we also believe in transparency. LLMs (Large Language Models) were used to assist and save time while writing this piece.
The work we do at Quarry has given us a front seat to the challenges startups face. While at their most rapid phases of growth, founders and CEOs are often faced with endless responsibilities and limited resources. They have to balance managing access to capital, talent acquisition, scaling, revenue generation, stakeholder expectations, and market validation. We’re seeing a trend in the startup community that offers a solution to many of these challenges: hiring fractional technical resources.
What is a Fractional Technical Resource?
A fractional technical resource is an outsourced technical expert available to an organization on a contract, or part-time basis. Instead of committing full-time to a single organization, these experts split their time among multiple clients. This allows startups access to an experienced technical resource without the commitment or constraints that usually come with a full-time hire.
How Can Fractional Technical Resources Alleviate Startup Constraints?
1. Cost Savings
This is the number one benefit for companies. You pay for the expertise only when you need it. There is no sick time, vacation time, taxes, etc. to factor into payroll costs.
Seasoned professionals often come with a high price tag, which can make the right resource out of reach for a startup, yet their experience is often exactly what the organization needs to grow and avoid costly mistakes. Tech-debt anyone?
3. Scaling + Technical Constraints
Technical needs evolve as an organization scales. Sometimes there is a need for a specific set of tech skills that the current technical team lacks—but a full-time hire isn’t justified. Other times the technical talent can do the work, but are already occupied with other projects. Since fractional resources can be scaled up or down, startups often lean on this flexibility when they need to say yes to a custom request or ensure they’re staying on track with their roadmap.
With a trusted technical expert, startup CEOs can focus on managing the business instead of managing tasks. This allows them to lead the organization and make decisions that allow the business to hit goals and milestones, without creating retention risks for current teams due to added pressure.
5. Real-Time Data
In the same way that CEOs learn trends by working with multiple clients, fractional resources do as well. This allows them to bring their current experience, along with real-time industry trends and best practices.
6. Advisement + Risk Mitigation
Mistakes in general are costly, but even more so in the technical domain. Having someone who can help navigate potential pitfalls can mitigate risks due to lack of knowledge and experience.
7. Stakeholder Management
For those CEOs who have investors or Board members to answer to, showing that they have top technical talent can be a huge confidence booster in the venture’s potential success. Fractional resources can also help CEOs set realistic expectations for their stakeholders.
8. Getting it Wrong
For CEOs who’ve hired the wrong technical leader, especially at an executive level, they know the pain of how detrimental that can be for the organization. Hiring a fractional technical leader allows CEOs to exit and replace the relationship quickly if the resource is not a good fit, without disrupting organizational operations.
Things to Consider
While hiring fractional technical resources offers many advantages, CEOs should remain cautious:
Since these professionals are unlikely to be fully integrated into the day-to-day activities of the operation, ensuring that the chosen resource(s) align with the organization’s culture and/or receive consistent feedback to do so is crucial.
Clear communication ensures smooth collaboration. Given that they might not be available all the time, establishing robust communication channels, or consistent cadences is key!
While fractional technical resources won’t solve every challenge a startup CEO faces, they certainly provide a versatile tool in the arsenal. By offering flexibility, cost savings, and access to top-tier talent, they can help startups navigate the treacherous waters of the business world with increased confidence and competence.
Quarry is a group of passionate and curious individuals who are excited about crafting great digital products and experiences. Ready to learn more?
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