>TIPCPOs can ease the tension that often exists in a matrix
organization. The organizational structure and the project or work structure can find
themselves at odds. At a software company, for instance, a project manager must go
through a laundry list of departments, including design, programming, quality assurance,
documentation and marketing.
“Matrix organizations are inherently at conflict,” says Chris Vandersluis, HMS Software,
Montreal, Quebec, Canada, “and it is the most popular organizational structure for com-
panies in a wide range of industries. A CPO can help balance the pull from both sides of
For example, a CPO should negotiate resource conflicts and create processes so the
resource side of the matrix knows how to prioritize what the project side of the matrix
requires, and vice versa. “The CPO can establish and foster lines of communication
between parts of the organization, such as department managers and project managers,
who might otherwise not have any direct contact,” he adds.
A CPO can be
instrumental in introducing project selection
thinking and methods
for senior executives
to choose projects
that have a better
chance of delivering
business value to the
—Chris Vandersluis, HMS Software,
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
CPO brings project management into
the mainstream business thinking.”
To play that guiding role, though,
CPOs require more than conventional
project management know-how and
tools. They also need a macro view of
“You don’t have to be an expert in
every business vertical,” Mr. Glowacki
says. But you do need the expertise to
understand how resources interplay, for
example. “A lot of my role is about setting the table for senior executives so
they can make the decisions to ensure
that we’re effectively executing on the
strategy,” he says.
CPOs should help their fellow upper
managers comprehend what the most
relevant project management issues
are—without a lot of technical jargon.
“The biggest mistake I see people
make is that the information passed up
to senior executives is way too complicated,” Mr. Glowacki says.
It’s an understandable misstep
because project management thrives
on attention to detail. But that minutia
isn’t necessary at the executive level.
CPOs must focus on distilling key takeaways for an executive audience.
“LexisNexis Risk Solutions will
deliver probably 300 to 400 projects
in a year,” Mr. Glowacki says. “And
literally, for all the business verticals, I’ll
give them enough information on four
pages of paper.”
This report offers a visual portfolio
view that reveals the projects’ progress,
followed by a summary of the key
A CPO must also know when to
raise concerns about a project and—just
as importantly—when to take a wait-and-see approach.
“There may be situations when
something’s gone red, and you’re meet-