The Crucial Role of a Chief Project Officer (CPO) in Companies Today
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By Rebecca Langdon
The role of Chief Project Manager (CPO) is not commonly known in all industries but it is for
many companies a critical role. The CPO is a senior manager who is responsible for proving
governance over the organizations internal projects.
Specifically the CPO has the following responsibilities:
- Ensure every project supports the right business goals
- Link all projects into the business strategy
- Drive efficiencies and linkages between projects
- Manage resources requirements across the project portfolio
- Make sure each project has an effective leader/project manager
- Implement or oversee implementation of appropriation project management methodology
- Oversee and control all changes to project scope
- Project portfolio management
Why is a CPO preferable to a PMO
Many organizations have implemented a project management office with the hope of them
fulfilling the role of the CPO. The reason this fails is because the PMO typically does not have the
senior manager/board level influence.
The future of the CPO
The indications are that the role of the CPO will become increasingly prevalent. The reasons for
this are as follows
- A CPO will have a senior position within the organisation and will therefore be in an
ideal position to raise the profile of the project portfolio. They will also be able to
demonstrate the importance of projects to business development and maturity.
- The CPO will ensure that the projects are resourced effectively. In organisations where
there is no CPO representing the needs of the projects, they can suffer from being under
resourced compared to other functions who shout louder for finite resources. The CPO
can help to argue for the need to resource strategic, as well as operational objectives.
- From a broader HR perspective, the CPO role provides a clear indication to employees
such as PM’s and PMO that there are career possibilities to make it to senior
manager/board level in their chosen career path.
- A CPO will likely be a more cost effective option than implementation of a full scale
PMO. Therefore a CPO role could be easier to sell into the board. Thereafter if that role
is beneficial to the organisation, a PMO may be considered.
In summary, the role of the CPO is becoming increasingly prevalent. It offers many
organizational benefits, and also provides a clear career path for those entering the profession.
If you are interested in progressing in a project management career, you might consider
undertaking the PMP qualification.