Is Your CTO Killing Your Software Product?

There are serious issues that can arise in the software development process that can be caused by weak teams with weak leaders. Your CTO needs to be truly managing a team for performance, understanding the value of user experience, focusing on non-functional requirements as much as the functional ones for your project, and making appropriate buy vs. build decisions. But don’t fret, because there are some things you can double-check with your CTO to make sure they are giving you their best, and getting the best results.

The problem with weak software teams - Are your developers coddled?

The 2 most common reasons for weak development teams are:

  1. Good developers becoming potentially lazy
  2. The management style is too friendly and isn’t pushing for professional development

Friendly CTOs potentially want to build a team of friends, rather than an efficient, high-velocity team of developers. Since the team your CTO is building is built into your cost structure, it should be important to you who is on the team and how the team is being managed. You need to be certain that your CTO is making cost-conscious business-based decisions for outsourcing.

In many cases, developers are in high demand and therefore have been somewhat coddled. Many of them may not be used to working in a high-velocity environment, with high accountability. Traditional management techniques are not used with developers out of fear of losing them, and as a result, a lot of devs get away with doing less work than they should be. 

Is your CTO truly managing the team for performance?

There are lots of great developers, and “nice people” who are not best suited for a CTO role. Part of the problem here is that they may expect that everyone will be a high performer like themselves, but we know from experience, that this is not the reality. There needs to be the desire and ability to find, maintain, and grow a strong team. 

Your CTO needs to be coaching and mentoring your team of developers, turning low performers into high performers, or making the tough decision of letting consistently low performers go. In turn, they must be measuring the velocity of the work done in the project (how fast they are getting things done).

Training sessions and feedback can improve team performance

Is your CTO under-appreciating user experience?

There are some cases in which the CTO might try to take over the user design, although this is happening less and less now. These code-driven CTOs are not using designers or talking to users. The problem with this is quite clear - they are coding before they are validating. 

Without the customer, competitor, and other usability data, your software product is being built without any, or not enough, validation for the features and functionality. This will greatly impact your user experience and in turn, your business goals. 

Is your CTO focusing on security and regulations?

Your CTO might be giving you the features you want, in terms of functionality and user experience, but are the features meeting non-functional requirements? These include, but are not limited to:

  • Where it will be hosted
  • Security rules
  • What needs to be obfuscated
  • What needs to be accessible
  • If they can be integrated with marketing and sales tools

Just because a feature function isn’t enough. Your CTO needs to be ensuring that they are taking care of performance requirements, looking at response times of what they are building and licensing requirements. Functional requirements cannot dominate all other priorities. This is why it is recommended to have QA onboard your team to ensure that both functional and non-functional requirements are being met. 

Is your CTO making appropriate buy vs build decisions?

If this question sounds familiar you may have read our 18 Software Killers downloadable PDF. This is a very important point, especially when considering both time and budget for building software projects. You need to know if your CTO is custom developing more than they need to - you should not be letting them build everything from scratch!

Building from scratch is long and expensive. It delays your time to market, and your time to test features. There might already be existing solutions that could be bought or used, rather than coding from nothing. There are many companies that initially bootstrap their business and later introduce customized features. This saves time and money where it counts, and it’s a very viable solution.

Things you need to double-check with your CTO

Your CTO may not mean to kill your software project, but they could be making poor management and tech decisions that will impact the build of your digital product. Don’t hesitate to ask your CTO important questions and keep them accountable for the development team they are managing and challenge their hiring decisions. You can also make sure they are using designers, and not trying to also take on the responsibilities of user experience. 

Just because you see a functioning feature doesn’t mean it’s good enough. Talk to your CTO about both functional and non-functional requirements, while making sure that they are making smart buy vs build decisions. You need to get a product to market as soon as possible, to test and validate. Your team’s efficiency and motivation as well as important development decisions all come down to your CTO. Hold them accountable.


  • Weak teams will kill your software product, make sure your CTO is managing a high-velocity team
  • UX should be left to UX experts, not to CTOs or developers whose main focus is coding
  • Non-functional requirements are equally important to the functional requirements of your software product’s features
  • Don’t let your CTO build everything from scratch if they don’t need to - it will take longer and drain your budget

If you’re looking for a more dynamic software development team to help you deliver on time and within your budget, our high-velocity teams get the job done, on time, while exceeding expectations. Ask us how we can help you get your project on track, or schedule a meeting with us on our website.

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