The chief project officer: a new executive role for turbulent times

Te Wu, Zhu Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Purpose: While it is common for most C-suite executives to have substantial project responsibilities, many do not have a strong understanding of project management leading to significant failures. As projects are the main mechanisms for implementing changes, project performance has disproportional impact on the competitiveness and viability of organizations. This paper aims to attempt to raise awareness of the Chief Project Officer (CPO) role and lay out important skills and capabilities that are needed for managers to ascend to this role as well as key topics of concern when preparing the mindset to be a successful CPO. Design/methodology/approach: The authors have based this research on reviewing publications from the project management journals and publications, interviews of project management professionals and drawing from our industry experience in the field of project management. Findings: Most organizations have project managers, either formal or informal, to lead projects. As project environment intensifies across industries, larger organizations rely on a project executives and project management office to oversee projects and performance of C-suite tasks. However, these projects and project management office (PMO) managers often lacks the authority and legitimacy to fully carry out the expected function. This is a clear gap in organizational management, and the gap is growing as more resources are dedicated to projects. Many organizations are equipped with the human resource to develop a CPO, the authors identify five main skills and 20 key topics that are crucial to the success of this vital role. Originality/value: While the awareness of the CPO is still in its infancy, most organizations have equivalent or emerging senior project executive roles that may evolve and become CPOs. Today, organizations are increasingly pushed to pursue project-oriented structures to a rapidly changing environment, global market and fast-paced technological advances. It is likely that the CPO role will grow and become a crucial component in top management teams in the coming years to help organizations in moving forward to achieve their strategic goals and objectives.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Business Strategy
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Chief project officer
  • CPO
  • Project execution
  • Project management
  • Strategy execution
  • Top management teams

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