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Anywhere you look in today’s business environment, you’ll see signs that project management is growing in depth and importance. Organizations are hiring project managers at an unprecedented rate, creating specialized project management departments and enhancing their capabilities with advanced cloud-based project management solutions. Thousands of professionals are earning project management credentials each year, hoping to be a part of this revolution in global business.

As the field of project management continues to develop and diversify, many companies are taking their project management efforts a step further by creating executive project management positions. The CPO, or chief project officer, is a new addition to many corporate boardrooms, and a sign that project management has reached a new level of significance in many industries.

Companies that add a CPO position see the role as a way to ensure that the organization’s projects and portfolios are aligned with its strategic goals. A chief project manager can gain insight into company objectives in a way that lower-ranking employees simply can’t, allowing for longer-term planning and more effective decision-making. A CPO also has a unique ability to bring project management-related issues to the attention of the organization’s CEO or board of directors, making it easier to deal with company-wide challenges or needs.

What Does a Chief Project Officer Do?

While the exact role and responsibilities of chief project officers vary from company to company, most organizations look to a CPO as the final authority on project selection and prioritization. The CPO is expected to align the company’s project portfolio with its strategic plan, and to evaluate potential conflicts or redundancies between existing or proposed projects.

In addition, a chief project officer typically sets the organization’s direction in terms of project management methodology and technology. This can include decisions on project and portfolio management software, collaboration tools, reporting processes and resource allocations. Ultimately, a CPO will be held accountable for the company’s overall project success rate, and can be expected to be closely involved in the management of particularly large or important projects.

Benefits of Having a CPO

Organizations that include a chief project officer on their leadership teams generally enjoy a higher project success rate and an increase in efficiency throughout the organization. These improvements can often be traced to the higher profile that the company’s project management office holds once a CPO is in place. Without an executive-level position at the top of a PMO, project management initiatives can be overlooked when they compete for attention with initiatives from other business units. Chief project officers also tend to create a more unified approach to project management within the organization, which can reduce the likelihood of miscommunication or misunderstanding between project teams.

Angela Bunner
Angela Bunner, VP of Solutions Engineering