CPOs should become CP3Os – Chief Project, Program and Portfolio Officers! It is impossible to deliver value to an organisation if any of the layers of project governance are ineffective. Like C-3PO in Star Wars, the CP3O needs to be an expert in communication and understand the right language and protocols to use at different levels of the organisation to tie the project, program and portfolio management processes directly to the creation of value.
At the portfolio management level, selecting the ‘right’ projects and programs to continue, cancel or start is vital to the future success of the organisation. The CP3O should be a key advisor to the executive team responsible for the strategic plan and selecting the on-going mix of work for the organisation; balancing high-risk, high-reward projects that may define the future of the organisation with ‘safer’ projects that help keep the lights on and grow today’s business. The capacity and capability of the organisation’s program and project delivery systems is a key enabler and the primary constraint on this process. The CP3O should be the person with the knowledge to facilitate effective decision making.
Program management focuses on the efficient coordination of multiple projects to deliver benefits. Each program is focused on delivering key elements of the organisation’s overall strategy and consequently has a significant contribution to make to the organisation’s ability to deliver value to its stakeholders. The CP3O should be actively engaged in ensuring the programs meet their businesses objectives. The program sponsor and other managers may have line responsibility for the initiative, the CP3O focuses on skills and support.
Project management is focused on the efficient creation of the deliverables defined in the Project Charter. Projects are most effective when their objectives are clearly defined and unnecessary change is minimised. Whilst Project Managers may report to a variety of managers, the CP3O should focus on skills development and performance.
Most organisations have developed PMOs to support the delivery of Projects and Programs and to provide the data needed for both governance and Portfolio Management decisions. The development and operation of the organisation’s PMO structure should be a core responsibility of the CP3O.
The role of a Project Director (at least in Australia) is as the manger of project managers. The difference between Project Directors and Program Managers is the Program is created to deliver a defined benefit (the responsibility of the Program Manager) and projects are created to deliver the outputs required to enable the benefit. The Program Manager has overall responsibility for both the performance of the projects within the program and enabling the benefit; whereas Project Directors tend to be responsible for oversighting the performance of the projects within their area of responsibility. The Project Director is typically discipline and location based; eg, the Director for IT projects in Sydney. The project deliverables may contribute to a range of initiatives within the organisation. Project Directors should be direct reports of the CP3O.
The CP3O (or CPO) role is becoming more common. Defining the value proposition for this executive will be critically important to the improvement in delivering value through projects and programs. One of the key initiatives a CP3O can use to drive continuing improvements within the organisation is to develop a focus on process improvement using an effective maturity model. PMI’s OPM3 is probably the best tool from the perspectives of rigour and its focus on projects, programs and portfolio management.
This post has covered a lot of ground. For more information on specific topics see:
Portfolio Management: See White Paper1017
Types of Program: See White Paper1022
Programs -v- Projects: See White Paper1002
PMOs: See White Paper1034