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What makes a great CTO for Highgroove?

Jim Hodgson

Obama’s CTO

Relationships are the key to successful work at Highgroove. When it comes to clients, a CTO who is a great fit is essential.

“We need a client who is technical enough to understand the value of what Highgroove provides,” says Charles Brian Quinn, Highgroove president. “We’re often approached by potential clients who aren’t technical at all. They want to hand us a project and come back in six months when it’s finished, and that doesn’t work.”

A CTO with vision

Why doesn’t it work? Isn’t it our job to create web applications?

In a word, yes. We develop cutting-edge, successful web applications, the kind that change everything for a business. But even the most amazing app needs to be maintained and adapted over time.

“Let’s say someone comes to us with the best idea ever, and we knock it out of the park together. A successful product can continue indefinitely. That means, scarily, that there needs to be a budget forever–not just for the four weeks or four months it takes us to develop it,” Charles says. “In fact, if a client does it right, they’ll eventually hire their own developers so that they can keep meeting customers’ needs.”

The best clients for us have a crystal-clear vision, and they also must have time to communicate that vision. Our iterative agile process necessitates a close working relationship with a client. We develop the best solution by building our clients into the process, which means approving stories in Pivotal Tracker, for example, and weekly kick-off meetings where next steps are hammered out.

A CTO who is receptive to suggestions

We care about craftsmanship, and strive to consistently create quality work. This commitment pushes us to work hard and to ask a lot of the chief technology officers who work with us.

We want to not only complete projects, but to better ourselves and our work in the process. We work best with clients who aren’t necessarily determined to stick to a single path. Sometimes better choices come up along the way, and the best CTOs for us welcome suggestions for improvement.

A CTO who can make decisions

When business decisions have to be made, we present the best options to the CTO, who then makes the call.

“We don’t make business decisions for CTOs,” says Chris Kelly, Highgroove methodologist and developer. “We present the best options and empower the CTO to make a sound decision.”

That system only moves forward when the client has the power as well as the inclination to move forward with a decision. Highgroove is always pleased to meet someone who is as fired up about craftsmanship as they are, but we’re biased toward action, and action starts with a decision.

Image credit: jurvetson

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