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Chief Software Architect vs CTO: Explaining the Difference

A developer’s expertise, education, experience and skill set all determine their success as an engineer in software development and how likely they are to succeed in their project and support their company’s competitive position in the market. Apart from hiring well-qualified developers, software development organizations are also often looking for a CTO for hire, a Chief Technical Officerwho focuses on long-term business goals from a technical perspective and occupies the leadership position within a development team. Another common position you might see on the IT market is Chief Software Architect, who acts in a similar way to an architect of buildings – they compose a whole project, brick by brick, while reporting to the CTO.

What’s the difference? We decided to define the key difference between these positions, reveal their duties and responsibilities and help businesses decide whether they need to hire a Chief Software Architect or CTO.

Software Architect Roles and Responsibilities

The Software Architect controls and maintains a full-cycle development process, deals with stakeholders and reports directly to the Chief Technology Officer. In their technical background, they should possess experience in different areas of software app development, including coding, testing, deployment, documentation and agile methodologies. In addition to technical skills, CSAs usually must be adept at people management when running a team of developers.

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Roles and Responsibilities:

  • Hands-on coding
  • All DevOps and backend code
  • Daily team management, tech stack problem resolution
  • Timely release (ensure the timeframe is maintained)
  • Budget execution
  • Lead the design of software solutions and guide the maintenance of legacy software (bug fixing process, initiate requests for enhancement, provide internal support)
  • Identify the required tools and languages for coding
  • Report on the status of tasks and collaborate with the technical leader (the CTO)

In order to boost project development, companies across the world usually would expect the following (most common) software architect certifications: AWS Certified Solution Architect, CTA, ITIL, CISSP, TOGAF 9.

CTO Role and Responsibilities

While the CSA manages bottom-level software development, the CTO’s role directly correlates with the long-term company’s business strategy. They are mainly responsible for monitoring cutting-edge technologies evolving on the market, assessing the product’s potential among competitors, overseeing the approaches of the project to add value to the product and developing the strategy for the future in terms of the released product.

Key Roles:

  • Develop a technical strategy of the project along with the CEO of the company
  • Participate in the recruitment process to hire necessary personnel for efficient project completion to a high standard
  • Resolve internal and technical issues coming from the team
  • Set short-term and long-term goals, analyze possible risks and advocate for emerging technological ideas
  • Collaborate with marketing specialists to build the strategy of the product’s promotion through its online presence on the market

Despite the fact that CTO’s list of roles and responsibilities is shorter, there is much more responsibility reflected in each of his/her daily activities.

Chief Software ArchitectChief Technology Officer
  • Design the software
  • Code, test, release, and maintain the product
  • Collaborate with the team, guarantee their engagement and satisfaction
  • Initiate the changes
  • Solve internal management issues
  • Keep an eye on the deadlines and product’s budget
  • Conduct daily meetups, delegate the short-term goals, distribute the tasks effectively
  • Align technology with business strategy
  • Visualize strategic product roadmap
  • Perform top and middle-level management
  • Build the team and maintain their integration
  • Provide solid support to the CSA
  • Research for innovations to add value
  • Perform technical analysis and participate in coding, testing and other development processes.

Although the CTO’s list of roles and responsibilities is shorter, their role is more high-level and comes with greater responsibility in their daily activities.

CTO vs Software Architect in the USA, UK, Germany, Denmark, and Ukraine

With the increasing availability of outsourcing or nearshoring, a company is no longer limited to their own country when hiring an expert SW engineer. 

Here are 5 popular countries and the difference in salaries between those countries.

 Chief Software ArchitectChief Technology Officer
USA$124,050$161,419
UK$72,586$125,420
Germany$77,864$98,582
Ukraine$19,700$26,622
Denmark$90,845$116,893

Source: payscale.com

Do You Need to Hire a Software Architect or CTO?

To decide whether a CSA and CTO is right for your business, consider your company’s size. Usually, a startup’s founder is a person with an immense technical background and often occupies the position of fractional or interim CTO. They develop the strategy, manage the team, and control the tech flow for the project. Startup businesses with distributed teams usually hire a remote software architect to operate within the remote development team. They can either go for the services of principal software engineer vs architect depending on the size of the remote team.

When a corporation runs several projects and deals with a great number of developers in each of those projects, they need to have additional technical expertise on hand to cope with extra workloads . Huge companies rely on CTOs as they facilitate internal matters and help align project goals with those of the business.

Mobilunity, a nearshoring vendor in Eastern Europe, is not limited to hiring dedicated development teams and we also provide the services of finding CTOs and CSAs. We carefully analyze the local talent pool, research the necessary technical backgrounds, and select the engineers who can perform managerial duties as well. With over 10+ years of experience in nearshoring, our team will help you find the best specialists to scale up your business operations.

Mobilunity will find a software architect or CTO to grow your technical team. Reach out to us via the contact form below to engage our technical experts in your project.

All salaries and prices mentioned within the article are approximate NET numbers based on the research done by our in-house Recruitment Team. Please use these numbers as a guide for comparison purposes only and feel free to use the contact form to inquire on the specific cost of the talent according to your vacancy requirements and chosen model of engagement.

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