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How to Be a Startup CTO: 9 Tips for Your First 100 Days

How to Be a Startup CTO: 9 Tips for Your First 100 Days
Author: DuploCloud | Wednesday, January 24 2024
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Learn what skills to prioritize and how to make the most of your entrance to the C-Suite

Congratulations on entering your role as chief technology officer for a startup. Maybe you’ve already been working with your colleagues for years and are now stepping into a leadership position. Or perhaps you were brought into the C-Suite from outside the company to shore up an operation in need of a fresh perspective.

However you came to be here, your first 100 days in a new job are your best chance to distinguish yourself in this new position. They’re also the best time to begin initiatives that will keep paying dividends for years to come — and ensure you aren’t back on the job hunt again any time soon.

3 CTO Skills to Prioritize in Your First 100 Days in a New Job

In the next section, we will break down windows of time and steps to follow for your CTO first 100 days of success, all while embracing proven DevOps methodologies. But before you start plotting out your calendar for the work ahead, here are overall skills that will serve you well as a startup CTO, pulled from the insights of fellow CTOs across the industry:

  • Expression: Your main job as CTO is to lay out the vision for your business’ technological backbone and ensure that message is communicated consistently to stakeholders. This emphasis on communication and coordination may be an adjustment if you’re new to the C-Suite, but the sooner you start growing these skills, the better.
  • Listening: Listening is another part of good communication, but it’s so important to prioritize as a CTO for startup operations that it’s worth addressing on its own. Your colleagues trust you to have a high-level view. Build a solid foundation for that view by soliciting and internalizing feedback from team members.
  • Business Familiarity: While certain tools and approaches may be near universal, you will only know how best to apply them if you’re intimately familiar with your business’ products and audience. You’ll have a headstart here if your first 100 days in a new job are at a company you already worked for in another role, but leave fears of asking “stupid questions” behind and you can catch up fast.

Depending on the company, one of the first questions you may need to address is your stance on cloud migration. Will your startup work best on-premises, in the cloud, or through a hybrid of the two? Our guide to cloud migration can help you find the answers you need.

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During your first 100 days as a startup CTO, you will determine your company's needs, plan on how to meet them, and begin implementing those plans. You will establish your leadership style and start earning the trust of your fellow executives as well as your team members.

Below is a helpful template to use as you plan for this crucial period. Just remember that no two companies — and therefore no two CTO positions — are the same. You may need to spend more time on certain steps, add some new ones, or skip others entirely.

With all that in mind, let’s head into your first 100 days in a new job as a startup CTO.

CTO Startup: Your First 30 Days

Learn About Your Current Tech and Skillbase

Your first step should be to audit the tools your company currently uses within its tech stack. Approach this task with a DevOps mindset as you look for redundancies, inefficiencies, and sources of technical debt. Apply the same curiosity to your team, and use a DevOps skills matrix to help understand what you have covered and where you need to grow next.

Identify Stakeholders

As we mentioned in the previous section, communication is one of your primary duties as a startup CTO. You must identify who to communicate with to get the broadest perspective and make the biggest impact. Make sure you know the product owners, development team managers, QA leads, and so on, as well as how to get in touch with them.

Understand Your KPIs

If your company already has key performance indicators (KPIs) in place, research what they mean and how to find them. While retaining some for comparison purposes down the line may be helpful, don’t be constrained by them. Identify some helpful and industry-standard KPIs to follow for DevOps initiatives and start tracking them.

Days 31 to 60

Build Your Roadmap

You’ve had your first month to settle in, establish lines of communication, and lay your data-driven groundwork. Now, it’s time for the rubber to meet the roadmap. With the current state of your DevOps processes in mind, establish which goals you will prioritize first and how you will measure them. Solicit feedback from stakeholders before you share this roadmap more broadly, which we’ll discuss later.

Transition to a DevOps Culture

DevOps thrives on a culture of open communication between development, operations, and QA. The operant word there is culture — it’s not just a set of tools or processes, it’s a way of working. Like any cultural shift, it will take time to implement. The sooner you start, the sooner you can start seeing better results.

Execute Quick Wins

As you assessed the company’s existing approaches, you likely spotted a few areas of improvement that could be executed more quickly than others. Your second month is a great time to capitalize on these quick wins. They don’t have to be massive improvements, but getting to work quickly on practical concerns will show your team members that you mean business and make them excited to keep working with you on more significant changes.

Days 61 to 100+

Communicate Your Plans

You know where you’re headed in your first 100 days in a new job — now it’s time to align with the rest of the senior leadership to present a consistent vision. Start by establishing clear objectives for the next six to 12 months based on the work you’ve already done. Then, share your roadmap across the company.

Roll Out Larger Initiatives

Everyone’s on the same page (or at least knows which page to turn to next), which means you can start putting the bigger changes you’ve been planning into place. For instance, if you plan to implement or adjust your company’s platform engineering strategy, now is the time to start making moves in that direction.

Take Your Culture Company-Wide

Like we said, DevOps is about culture. That same environment of open communication and collaboration can be just as helpful even for employees who never touch a line of code. Empower your DevOps team to lead the way in this cultural shift and you’ll generate a positive impact all across your organization.

Let Us Help Craft Your CTO First 100 Days of Success

You will have a lot to manage as you adapt to your new position. The good news is that, if you’re looking to improve or overhaul your company’s DevOps processes, you don’t have to start from scratch. In fact, you and your team may be better off if you don’t.

At DuploCloud, we’re proud to have created the ultimate DevOps Automation Platform. Our solution can transform your work by accelerating infrastructure provisioning tenfold and automate DevOps tasks to decrease operating costs by 75%. Request a demo today to learn more about how DuploCloud can help make your first 100 days in a new job the best ones for the company yet.

Author: DuploCloud | Wednesday, January 24 2024
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