Male lion

What is a fractional tech lead?

February 2, 2024

I was unexpectedly thrown back into freelance waters last week when I was made redundant as Tech Lead at Culture Kings.

After spending the last two years there building the new headless site it came a bit unexpectedly, but some part of me knew that I wasn't safe by any means.

This is just the nature of business and employment, sometimes you find yourself looking for work unexpectedly. I know this is a bit of a hot take, but I think freelancing and running your own business is a lot less risky than employment. Putting all your eggs in one basket is a big risk if that basket should break. So instead of doing the "safe" thing and look for a new job, I decided to get back into freelancing.

I reviewed what I did well and what I didn't do so well last time around and also what I enjoy doing. I also reviewed what I've observed working with e-commerce merchants of all sizes, at different stages of their growth, and I realised there's a need among merchants that I can fill with my expertise.

The fractional tech lead

A little while ago I heard about someone who offered her services as a fractional CTO to startups and the idea resonated with me. I truly enjoy the role as tech lead, the mix of people and tech management coupled with project management and using my experience in e-commerce to help guide a project from start to finish.

I knew that offering my services as a fractional tech lead would probably sound confusing, it's not what most other freelancers offer. I ran the idea by some friends and they suggested I should call it a technical consultation. But that doesn't quite ring right with what I offer. I'm not only there to consult on a project, or give some technical advice. I'm there for the long haul, helping with the day-to-day running of an e-commerce store from a technical point of view.

The tech lead role is something that a lot of medium-sized merchants could use as they grow and face new technical challenges. But they're at a stage where it's hard for them to justify hiring a full-time tech lead, there could be budget constraints and there might not be enough work to keep a full-time tech lead occupied beyond the scope of a project. That's where the fractional tech lead steps in. I perform the services of a tech lead at a fraction of the cost, because I'm there when you need me, not when you don't.

A day in the life of a fractional tech lead

A fractional tech lead's day will look different every single day. One day I could jump in to put out a fire for a merchant, get into the nitty gritty of the code and solve the problem. The next day I join a call with a vendor you're looking to integrate into your business and provide a technical voice to guide the solution. The day after that I do some code reviews and suggest a new integration that will help your business save money or grow to the next phase.

I can lead a project with external or internal developers and ensure the technical quality, provide solutions and perform quality assurance and quality control.

That constant change and variation is very exciting to me. I love jumping in the deep end and figuring everything out, it's something I'm good at and something I can do that brings a lot of value to my clients.

Closing words

If this sounds like something you'd be interested in, reach out to me at [email protected]. Let's work together to make sure e-commerce business of all sizes has a sound tech stack.