Project Management

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Topics: Organizational Project Management
Q. Is it time for a CPO (Chief Project Officer)?
Briefly. . . .

When accountants . . .educated, professional, licensed. . .go to work, they work within a system of accounting processes established and approved by the orgs CFO.

When IT/MIS professionals . . .educated, professional, licensed. . .go to work, they also work within a system of MIS/IT processes established and approved by the orgs CIO.

And so, when PM professionals. . .educated, professional, licensed, certified. . .go to work, they work within a . . . . .

Whooops…right.

Basically, it varies, with most based on “Who you get is what you get.”

Are there exceptions to this?

Of course!

Do the professionals of PMI wish to be continuing victims of “Exceptions?”

Project managers are to work within the system of project management provided, resourced, maintained, and controlled by the executive/senior management of the org. PMs * work within * that system; Exec. Mgt. is to * work on * that system.

Thanks for reading and considering my thoughts.

Cheers,
Bill
p.s. And to be clear, the PMO is NOT a solution for this process-system vacuum.
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William -

While there are organizations who have introduced this role, those are few and far between. I can see project-oriented organizations being one structure which would align well with this title but matrix and certainly functional organization structures would rarely see the benefits of this.

Kiron
William, you ask a great question. There are very few of these roles, but maybe in the Project Economy there could be more. Wish I had a crystal ball.
A question I would have is around the COO. If the COO is the "executer of strategy", would they essentially be filling the role? Or, if the COO is truly a day-to-day operational person focused on financial viability, would a company be more likely to have a CPO? What's your thoughts?
William,

First, "And to be clear, the PMO is NOT a solution for this process-system vacuum." Why not?

In my view a PMO can be a resource pool, a center for processes or both. If both, then, yes, the PMO can be the solution.

In order for me to clearly articulate "No" to your question, let me state what I think are fundamental truths.

An organization sets forth its strategy. Whether it be to increase efficiencies or enter new markets or what-have-you, the organization will need to undergo change. How does it do that? Through projects.

And given that projects will involve investment of some shape or another, the PMO should reside under the CFO. Not the CIO and not just because I've seen too many PMOs languish under a CIO (because IT needs to look good) or the COO (because Operations needs to look good). The CFO suite is the appropriate place because it should then allow the PMO to operate with an unblinking focus on the bottom line. Also, because the CFO is responsible for financial risk to the enterprise and PMs are all about managing financial risk, among many other kinds.
It depends. It depends on the nature of the business. If the company is in the business of delivering products and the project(s) are in the interest of improving the delivery of products than I can see the PM or project delivery system falling under the CFO.

However, if the company is in the business of delivering projects for others than you need the focus and consistency of a PM under the leadership of a CPO (Chief Project Officer).
...
1 reply by Robert Burkett
May 06, 2020 4:18 PM
Robert Burkett
...
I might be missing your point, but I see it this way:

The CEO of a firm making widgets is responsible for effectiveness of the organization in producing those widgets and selling them and strategies about vertical or horizontal expansion (across the supply chain or around the customer) where it makes sense.

If widgets = projects, why have a CPO where the CEO would operate?
It depends.
In the Telecom industry i believe it's not time for a Chief Project Officer.
Projects are much broader than the project itself. They start and happen to fulfill something greater than the project itself, new products and services for customers, consumer and enterprise.
William

Like my fellow colleagues indicated, you don’t see this role very often and not sure that it is really needed. Sometimes unnecessary added roles can hinder the process and make it inefficient.

I can see a merit from introducing such a role on high profile mega projects.

RK
Do not think CPO (or Chief Ethics Officer, or Chief Customers Officer) are good for the culture of an organization.

In contrast to CFO, CHRO who represent a specialized skill and even a check and balance function.

Projects, Ethics, Customers must be in the thoughts of every employee all the time, and must not be thought of as separate entities outside my daily work, normal business. They represent daily work, behaviors and are at the core of the organizational culture.

Yes, there might be groups like PMO or an ethics office supporting these cultural elements by planning and measuring them.
Our organization has actually gone in this direction. We were recently restructured, although the name of the person we funnel to is not CPO, he is over all of the PMO and Process Transformation departments, which all have a project focused. I have seen a lot of changes, I think are beneficial happening with having a dedicated person thinking about how to best utilize the Project and Process Transformation Managers.

It does depend on the organization though, on how indepth this goes.
May 06, 2020 8:46 AM
Replying to Peter Rapin
...
It depends. It depends on the nature of the business. If the company is in the business of delivering products and the project(s) are in the interest of improving the delivery of products than I can see the PM or project delivery system falling under the CFO.

However, if the company is in the business of delivering projects for others than you need the focus and consistency of a PM under the leadership of a CPO (Chief Project Officer).
I might be missing your point, but I see it this way:

The CEO of a firm making widgets is responsible for effectiveness of the organization in producing those widgets and selling them and strategies about vertical or horizontal expansion (across the supply chain or around the customer) where it makes sense.

If widgets = projects, why have a CPO where the CEO would operate?
...
1 reply by Peter Rapin
May 06, 2020 4:33 PM
Peter Rapin
...
If the project requires significant investment of time and effort It could be that the CEO is more effective in continuing to focus on delivering widgets while someone with project delivery expertise takes responsibility for the project. The investors may consider that effective delivery of a project is somewhat different than widget production and selling.

Just because you own and drive a car does not mean you can build one.
May 06, 2020 4:18 PM
Replying to Robert Burkett
...
I might be missing your point, but I see it this way:

The CEO of a firm making widgets is responsible for effectiveness of the organization in producing those widgets and selling them and strategies about vertical or horizontal expansion (across the supply chain or around the customer) where it makes sense.

If widgets = projects, why have a CPO where the CEO would operate?
If the project requires significant investment of time and effort It could be that the CEO is more effective in continuing to focus on delivering widgets while someone with project delivery expertise takes responsibility for the project. The investors may consider that effective delivery of a project is somewhat different than widget production and selling.

Just because you own and drive a car does not mean you can build one.
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