With more than three decades of experience in supporting financial and strategic transactions for both privately and publicly held companies in the life sciences industry, former CFO, David Johnston, is explaining the importance of the role of a chief project officer (CPO) when it comes to project strategy, resourcing, and management for life sciences.
According to David Johnston, about 80 percent of the resources of a variety of organizations and companies were dedicated to operating expenses and only 20 percent to projects, but in today’s world of business, it is done in the reverse. This has created a growing need for what is being referred to as a chief project officer. The role of a CPO is to oversee and help create all of these individual projects and report directly to the CEO of each organization or company. It is also the person’s role as the CPO to create an atmosphere within the organization or company to adopt a project-driven structure and to also facilitate a collaborative style culture throughout the entire organization or company. The person must also develop ways to ensure that employees throughout the company or organization know and understand how to create these projects and see them through until they are complete.
Besides providing direct sponsorship of individual projects, David Johnston said the CPO’s main responsibility is to work with the entire senior executive staff of each company or organization to develop and facilitate the company’s strategies into projects as well as initiatives and programs. The CPO also ensures that the projects are appropriate for each person or group and prioritized and resourced correctly based on the strategic goals of the organization or company in which they work, which includes the field of life sciences. The CPO should also be promoting a less is more kind of attitude to be able to add new strategic projects along the way while freeing up the resources needed as well as the capacity of time for people to complete the projects.
David Johnston also touts establishing accountability and governance as two important characteristics for the people working on individual projects to ensure they are completed correctly and to the best of each person’s ability. He also points out that many organizations launch more projects than they can possibly complete, which can harm employees’ performance levels and their interest in the projects since they will feel overwhelmed due to ineffective resource allocation. Project managers and executive sponsors need to focus on allowing sufficient time for each person to carry out the project successfully and to stop any projects that are not important to the overall business or organization.
David Johnston said that with all of these priorities in place, a chief project officer can help propel a business or organization to much higher levels while providing employees with the satisfaction of creating and completing important projects that make a difference overall.