Chief Process Officers: The New Sheriff in Town

Someone has to guide department managers through the change process and keep them from attacking problems with a cannonball when they really need a fly swatter. And since CIOs can’t do everything—or so they say—many plan to add chief process officers (CPO) next year. CIOs claim that a new role is needed as apps and data move to the cloud and IT spending is increasingly viewed as an investment that must generate a return, rather than an expense.

Of course, not everyone agrees that the CIO position should be divided into two roles or more. Despite the controversy, the separation of duties offers new opportunities for IT professionals to move up the corporate ladder and assume new business-facing roles. So how can you get a shot at one of these new jobs?

A CPO is a multi-talented individual with a technology background, who may have run a department or business unit in the past. He or she is responsible for analyzing core processes and then procuring and implementing software and systems that utilize service-oriented architecture or the cloud.

For example, the CPO may understand the nuances of HR processes like onboarding new employees or administering benefit programs, or be familiar with purchase-order management or materials processing. So he might suggest enterprise content management (ECM) to break down functional silos and boost productivity by allowing users to share documents across the enterprise.

But most of all, a CPO needs leadership skills and a take-charge personality to corral department cowboys who would rather ride solo and keep doing things the same old way than participate in a group ride.