What Every Chief Officer need to know about Project Portfolio Management

According to the Project Management Institute, an increasing number of organizations are reporting added value with the appointment of a chief project officer.

The chief project officer is someone who owns the responsibility of governing the internal projects of an organization. Some of the specific duties of such as officer include:

  • Ensuring each project is supportive of business goals
  • Driving linkages and efficiencies between projects
  • Connecting every project to business strategy
  • Making sure that each project has an efficient project manager
  • Handling resource demand and allocation across all projects in the organization

In certain industries, chief project officers may be preferred over the project management office because the latter lacks board-level influence. This means that the project management office might be incapable of accomplishing various strategic priorities.

Role of a Chief Officer

The chief officer is responsible for leading project managers, programme heads as well as portfolio managers. In addition to this, he/she also offers direct or indirect support to personnel.

Majority of the organizations that are project-oriented create a Project Management Department. This department has a manager leading the team of programme and project managers. In such cases, the chief officer might just be leading the Project Management Department manager.

There are other organizations where the chief officer might directly lead all individuals involved in managing projects, portfolios and programmes. Here, the individuals in question are directly accountable to the chief officer, and hence to the board.

A powerful chief officer may also guide an organization to understand that the scope of PPM is not limited to internet technology. He/she can take up the responsibility for any project management offices within an organization and transform them into effective enterprise project management offices (also known as EPMO). Such offices can make the best use of cost reductions and remove departmental politics.

According to Andy Jordan, president, Roffensian (Canada-based consulting company), a chief officer, also known as a ‘c-suite executive’ may help expand the scope of best practices and explore areas that have not traditionally been associated with PMO structures. Such expansion may likely result in improved project execution.

Career Development

Another critical advantage of the chief officer role is improved career pathing in project management. A project manager may sometimes feel that he/she has limited career options. This is usually because there isn’t any definite advancement that is visible within the company or because the company may not place a high value on project management. At a given time, there can only be one chief project officer in an organization. However, dedication to the role helps in reinstating its significance and shows that career development is possible.

In the past few years, the role of a chief officer hasn’t gained too much traction. However, there are organizations which have embraced the role whole-heartedly and are reporting excellent results. One example of such a company cited by the Project Management Institute is that of Telstra.


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