“The development of the Chief Project Officer” by Paul Marshall

I’ve been reading many interesting articles on the perceived future of Project Management Offices, also often named Programme and Portfolio Offices. This coupled with my experience of implementing and managing PMOs and working in Senior PM consultancy roles I believe that by the beginning of 2016 a Chief Project Officer (CPO) role will be taking shape in many organisations.

  • Medium to Large organisations will asking why they haven’t got a Project Management Office (PMO) headed up by a CPO rather than asking if they should have one.
  • Smaller organisations will be assessing the value of implementing a PMO vs. employing an experienced CPO.
  • CPOs will be sitting at Board-level alongside the more traditional roles; CIO, CTO, COO, CFO and will report into the CEO.


Why do I think this?

  • A CPO sitting on the Senior Management Team or Board will increase the profile of project management. It will help demonstrate just how important projects are in the continual development and maturity of an organisation. Effective project delivery will be viewed as a ‘must-do’ rather than resourcing projects with existing staff using a ‘best-endeavours’ approach. The future of an organisation might be dependant on benefits being realised through the delivery of a successful project.


  • A CPO will help ensure that project and operational departments are resourced effectively. Historically there has been a tendency for the functional areas to put their departmental needs and priorities above the needs of projects, even if those projects are aligned to strategic objectives of the organisation. A CPO will provide a good balance to the COO when discussing strategic change vs. operational efficiencies – whilst improving cross-departmental relations and communications. Staff performance appraisals with objectives that span both operations and projects are necessary to ensure that the focus is on both deliverables.


  • By introducing a CPO, whom manages change control and effective project governance and whom may also head up a PMO represents and highlights the potential of a career in change management and project management. It demonstrates that there is a clear career      progression path. Historically a business analyst will move into project management and that is where a project manager will remain throughout their career. Strategic alignment and a strong business acumen is key to delivering effective change and would be aided by representation at Board-level through a CPO.


  • A CPO may be a better option than implementing a full scale PMO in the short-term due to being a less-expensive, more-flexible and  more-objective resource. Until the value of effective project governance and resulting benefits have been demonstrated by a CPO a full scale PMOs value proposition can often be difficult to sell to the Board. It is expected that the benefits will include improved project communications, delivery timescales, scope and change control management. There will be fewer re-works and therefore reduced costs and effectively prioritised and strategically aligned projects – avoiding the ‘pet projects’ pitfall.


How do you see the future of project delivery and visibility at Board-level? Do you agree with my predictions?


Paul Marshall is a highly experienced PM professional who has run numerous projects within a diverse range of industries, and can bring valuable experience to make your project a success. Paul is also a PMO guru, championing effective change and governance. 

Give us a call or e-mail to discuss how we at Prosperity 24.7 can help manage your projects +44 (0) 1534 877247 or  enquiries@prosperity247.com

Even if you already have experienced project managers in your organisation, having a dedicated consultant to manage your key programmes/projects could be exactly what you need to revitalise and energise your delivery programme.