VOICES From the Top
Project managers spend much of their day focused on the front lines of getting projects completed on time, and within budget and scope. But Nelson Rosamilha wants the project managers at IBM focused on the bottom line, too.
“Most project managers think about delivery first, and their second priority is the financial result,” says Mr. Rosamilha, PMP, a project
executive at IBM, a PMI Global Executive Council
member. But to ascend the ranks, project professionals need to give both equal weight—a task
made easier when project management executives
act as mentors.
“Project managers usually see project directors
or project executives as role models,” Mr. Rosamilha says.
The first lesson is teaching project managers
to look beyond their to-do lists, he says, and work
toward the bigger picture.
How do you mentor project
managers to help them be
Project managers expect project management executives to be more than bosses. They expect people who
can guide them.
That is a huge responsibility. We always try to give
them some kind of new methodology, new tips or
books they should read to enrich their skills.
As mentors, we offer insights that a professional in
the middle of a crisis cannot see. For example, when
a project manager has a project in crisis, I suggest
that he or she look back at a successful project to find
ideas that may help him or her improve performance.
I also tell my team to attend networking project
management events to meet people who may have
ideas that will help them avoid future problems.
How do you get your project teams to
focus on delivering financial results?
In IT, the challenge we face is explaining to project managers that the main concern is not just
delivering the project to the customer. We have to
convince the project managers that they also have
to give to the customer added value, and deliver
financial results to the company.
We communicate the consequences of delivering a project with losses. It’s a very simple message:
When you lose money, you have to bring money
from another place. The only way to do that is to
lay off someone or to take money from the bank.
We have to keep teaching and leading our project managers toward improvement. This requires
energy, mentoring and coaching.
How do you create a culture of
The best way to create accountability is to have a staff
meeting, but those meetings need to be tracked with
the project deliverables.
If the project manager says that he or she is going
to deliver something that week, you have to request
metrics and samples of this specific outcome. It’s not
just a matter of asking how things are going. You
need to look at the deliverables and make sure you’re
seeing some sort of output that week.
Asking for that kind of follow-through demonstrates that I care about results and that processes
are being followed, and moreover, as a leader, I
demonstrate that my behavior matches what I say.
This creates a culture of responsibility and commitment from the bottom to the top of the chain
of command. PM
be more than
expect people who
can guide them.