The Project Officer
"The project officer tends to be the most senior project manager in your organization. This person represents that magical mix of deep experience with the ability and desire to share it. This person is well versed in the four major functions of the project management office. The main goal of the project officer is to create an atmosphere of support while instituting a project management culture. This must be done in a supportive mode because almost everyone associated with the project is psychologically down and oversensitive to criticism. The project officer works to enable the project manager to be a champion and leader of the new effort to bring the project to successful completion. The project manager should feel comfortable turning to the project officer for advice and counsel when things are going well ('How do I keep it going?') or not so well ('How do I get things back under control?'). In turn, the project officer must be comfortable working behind the scenes and getting satisfaction through the success of the project manager. If there is a power struggle or other incompatibility between the project officer and the project manager, the project team will be attuned to the struggle, take sides and limp along as a divided team. Ultimately, the project officer should have project rescue experience and be able to relate that experience and be able to relate that experience to the situation at hand to help guide the project manager and the rest of the senior project management team."
"Often you may be tempted to move this person into the role of project manager (if you had decided to make a project manager change). This may or may not be a good decision. You need to weigh this decision against the importance of supporting the entire portfolio of projects currently underway. Some people delude themselves by thinking they can put the project officer in place as project manager 'until the project is back on track'. Even if this strategy does work initially - and it seldom does - making another leadership change adds more time and cost to the project and impedes the good momentum that has taken place to get the project back on track. Of course there is no single option. Pick the one that is the best fit in your company and of course - keep it simple."
The above is an excerpt from a book written by Sanjiv Purba and Joseph Zucchero, published by McGraw-Hill/Osborne, 2100 Powell Street, 10th Floor, Emeryville, California 94608 U.S.A. Sanjiv has over 20 years of experience managing large projects and many years engaged in rescuing ailing projects.