A quiet phenomenon- the fractional employeePosted over 1 year ago by Nick Caley

There’s a quiet phenomenon sweeping the tech world right now, that of the fractional employee.

The dictionary definition of ‘fractional’ is “small or tiny amount”, like a huge discount in the January sales.

And you’d be forgiven for thinking that’d mean they can come and go as they please, dipping in and out and charging £1200 a day for the pleasure.

But, in the tech world anyway, that’s far from the truth.

A fractional CTO can be a start-up’s saviour, expertly knitting together co-founder(s), sales, and a burgeoning development team.

A part-time Product veteran is adept at guiding engineering and design teams toward feature delivery.

They’re expensive for sure, but for a lot, they’re worth it.

Earlier this year we were recommended to a Fintech start-up that was looking to hire across mobile engineering, devops, security, and product.

They had a *very* small dev team in place, and a fractional CTO.

She was working a couple of days a week alongside other similar gigs and tasked with helping them make their most crucial tech decisions and build and scale the team in addition.

And she was exceptional… not just as someone whom I loved working with, but also based on what both the COO and CEO told me on a regular basis.

Her experience in technology strategy, team building, and people management was invaluable.

Worth every penny.

And we’ve had another much larger client again in the Fintech space, ask about the prospect of a fractional Product hire.

One that can work with their growing tech team on a part-time basis, to knit together feature ideas into a coherent, manageable plan.

I must be honest; my initial feelings were this could be a little ill-advised.

Surely as a start-up or growing business, your most important technologists need to be full-time, permanent employees, who are 100% bought into the business and your plans?

Hmmm, the more I think about it, I’m not so sure.

I think fractional technologists could be a phenomenon waiting to happen.

Finding strong seniors in any tech field is tough – so employing people on an ad-hoc basis, where they can get their teeth into the problems you need them to solve, but also allow them the freedom to tackle the same at other companies – makes perfect sense.

Say you’re the CTO of a start-up, with a capable engineering team but a lack of seniority when it comes to technical direction and system design.

Let me introduce you to our fractional principal engineer, expert at setting architectural direction and making technical decisions with engineering teams.

Or perhaps you’re managing DevOps, Infrastructure, and Testing but struggling with the latter, and particularly the automation of anything and everything you can.

How about a fractional SDET, seasoned at changing the mindset(s) of engineers and testers when it comes to automation, with the know-how to recommend the right tools and technologies to put those things into practice?

I mean it’s kind of contract employment, but much more flexible, and in a post-Covid world that also feels much more attractive to both sides.

Let’s be honest, we already have this in the recruitment world, with RPOs and embedded talent partners.

They embed themselves within their client, working as an extension of their team, with a view to offering more value.

Now I have my opinions on them – probably for another time – but they are certainly popular.

I for one have started having these conversations with technology leaders, and I think more and more will look to take advantage, either as a fractional person themselves or by hiring one.

Oh, and if anyone needs a fractional Sales Director – I mean I can probably flex a little on that £1200 a day – then you know where I am :).