Advice, Engineering Manager, Featured

90-Day Plan For A New CTO

Failing to plan is planning to fail, especially when starting a senior tech leadership role in a remote environment

Starting a senior tech leadership role in a remote environment comes with a new set of challenges, one of them is showing visibility and progress of your contribution.

However, you won't get much done in the first few days apart from introductions and getting to know people. At the same time, you don't want to be in a situation where casual chats and intros take up all your time and before you know it, a quarter or 3 months had passed and there was nothing to show for it. So let me share with you what a new CTO should aim to accomplish in the first quarter (ie: 3 months, 90 days).

Day 1 - Day 15

  • Get to know your peers, direct reports, and leadership
  • Listen more than talk
  • Use the company's product and play around with its features

Day 15 - Day 30

  • Learn more about current projects and follow updates
  • Learn about the technical architecture and tech stacks
  • Understand how the current projects contribute to the organisation's success
  • Observe current systems, processes, ways of working, and people and identify strengths and opportunities for improvement

Day 30 - Day 60

  • Form your own opinion around how things work
  • Monitor progress of engineering excellence* via essential metrics such as uptime, response time, error vs success rate, number of incidents, etc
  • Put together a 6 month and a year plan, starting with outcomes
  • Talk to customers and end-users

Day 60 - Day 90

  • Share your plan with leadership and key individuals in the organisation
  • Make small changes^ that are aligned with the future direction, eg: introducing code review process, implementing structured hiring approach
  • (^You may check out CTO Toolkit for sample dashboards, best practices, and templates.)
  • Do the first of many quarterly reviews with your direct reports and share your observation about them

Lastly, remember when you're starting a new role that it's not a marathon but a sprint. You want to make sustainable changes that will enable your engineering organisation to scale effectively.

You can download this free checklist that contains the above information in a Google Sheet where you can customise with your own start date and tick interactive checkboxes to keep track of your own progress, The 90-Day Plan For A New CTO.

90-Day CTO Checklist
The 90-Day Plan For A New CTO