ne of the lesser-known
additions to the alphabet
soup of executive titles
is gaining traction. The
CPO, or chief project
officer, is becoming a
common fixture amidst
the respected ranks of
CEO, COO, CIO and
“Not long ago, no one
had ever heard of a chief
project officer,” says Chris
Vandersluis, CEO of HMS Software, a
project management software provider,
Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
“But it’s becoming more and more
common in large organizations as the
value of managing projects becomes
more mainstream,” says Mr. Vandersluis, who also teaches advanced project
management at McGill University in
Part of the credit goes to the wildly
chaotic business landscape.
“The need to adapt to changing
requirements—and a world that is
always moving faster—is increasing,”
says Alexandra Deutsch, CPO at Out
There Media, a mobile phone advertising company headquartered in Vienna,
With a shifting array of options like
offshoring and cloud computing, companies want to know what will work.
And CPOs are there to help.
“The more diverse business options
become, the more critical it becomes
for someone to bring it all together
and help executives understand what
needs to be decided in order to remain
aligned with strategy,” says Dave
Glowacki, vice president of product
engineering at LexisNexis Risk Solutions, a division of the research database
provider, Boca Raton, Florida, USA.
Although he doesn’t have the CPO title,
Mr. Glowacki’s responsibilities include
strategic alignment, and the program
management office reports to him.
For the CPO, it’s not only about
delivering projects on time and on
budget. Companies want someone who
can optimize project delivery in times
>>FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES
With a CPO in the executive suite, project management often receives an
elevated status at an organization. That won’t automatically guarantee buy-in
for projects—but aligning with the CPO can be a smart career move for project
And it shouldn’t be too hard to get his or her attention.
“The big thing project managers have is information,” says Dave Glowacki,
LexisNexis Risk Solutions, Boca Raton, Florida, USA. “They have all this macro
and micro information that the CPO needs and that really nobody else has. Provide
information that helps the CPO’s ability to pick out and see the key issues.”
To forge a relationship with CPOs, project managers have to be able to articulate
how their projects align with strategy.
They must learn to adapt to different business priorities within the organization’s hierarchy, says Cláudio Kindlé, Clip Engenharia, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
“Project managers face the challenge of knowing how to travel from the details
needed by the operational levels to the macro vision required by the CPOs and
CEOs day-to-day,” he says.