For a CEO, business is all that matters, so he or she may find it a drag to deal with technical issues. To avoid frustrations, a CEO may find it helpful to put a few principles in place to keep control of tech development without become dependent on any resources, whether internal or external.

Almost every day, I work for companies with varied technical issues, most of which stem from a company’s losing control of the tech part of the business. The problem could be the result of inadequate software, which can happen when a company grows more quickly than expected. On the other hand, it could be tech-human resources issues.

IP issues

The first tech-related issue involves intellectual property, a type of human resources problem. Depending on the country where your developers work, their work might belong to them instead of your company. Here in France, the goal is to examine the work contract to ensure the product belongs to the hiring company, not to the author.

What could happen if product ownership is not properly established? If the developer wants to leave for another project, which frequently happens, the company might have to pay an extra fee to keep working on the product. This, however, is a rare situation. More commonly, if the company wants to internalize an outsourced development, the outsourcing company might not want to give the source code for its work. This usually is the situation when a start-up grows quickly and the the outsourcing company does not have the staff to handle the increased workload.

In some extreme cases, a company may have to start from scratch if the original developer leaves the project. The move gives the company full, uncontested rights to intellectual property.

Personal dependence

For a start-up, tech development often is handled by one person. There is nothing bad about that, of course, but a CEO should give attention to how dependent the company is on the person.

I don’t want to scare anyone, but every CEO might think in this way: What would happen if the sole tech guy could no longer work or died? Thinking this way may seem morbid, but it can prevent a common dependence issue – personnel conflicts.

In about half of my consultations, I help CEOs analyze the work of a former tech. I examine development, evaluating the staff based on their results and estimate how quickly a product will grow, with our without the current team. The audit includes a detailed project documentation to help a CEO retain tech independence.

Ideally, any development project should easily managed by any developer. If not, that’s a sign that the current development team did not provide sufficient documentation, or, even worse, withheld information.

Technical dependence

By technical dependence, I refer to uncommon or rarely used technology that might disappear because of other technology that is more popular, though not necessarily better.

Technical innovations and inventions in term of language, database, or infrastructure usually come from one person or one team. They think about optimization, about mechanisms that could be more powerful and more efficient. The fact is for every 100 inventions, only a few will become widely used.

When it comes to innovations and inventions, companies often incorporate those things that do not take much time to train employees to use.

CTOs think big;  they think in terms of scalability. Their background moves them to anticipate all scenarios and plan to do things in the perfect way. That’s often the mindset for big companies. In order to achieve company goals, the CTO will look for the best-fit technology, no matter how easy it is to implement. A start-up does not have that luxury, since it has limited resources to train employees.

In my opinion, only two priorities matter when deciding what to innovate or invent:

  • Time- to-market
  • Whether product development will depend on nothing more than the CEO

If your company chooses to develop a technology, think about how difficult it would be to find people skilled in using the product. Ask your CTO/developer in which language the product should be developed to ensure a quick turnaround. Check to see if a market exists for the completed product.

New issues, new experiences: What’s yours?

There are countless experience of tech issues at companies. Some issues can cost a company hundreds of thousands of dollars. Having expert technical advice geared toward business can make your company run efficiently.

Do you have some experience to share, such as issues with internal or external developers? Feel free to share, comment, or ask a question.. I promise to answer.