At what point do you stop a project?
That was the question posed on a recent 2 day project management event we ran for a client. It’s a great question and one which the group pondered over for a while. They came up with an interesting list, some of which are shown below. They may not be specific to your situation, but they were to this group:
- when the project has formally ended i.e. all the deliverables have been accepted by the client and the project formally closed. The group agreed that the post project review would check the level of client satisfaction
- when it is obvious that the project will not deliver against the original business case. This was an interesting debate. One person suggested that a project may not meet all of the original business case but may still deliver a ‘significant project’ for the client. However, consensus seemed to be that if the original business case could not be met better to stop the project and rethink the business case OR abandon
- when the project is so over budget that you are simply pouring money into a sinking hole
- when key stakeholders object to or clearly do not buy into the project and without them, the project will clearly not succeed. The group felt that some consultation process be established to move this forward. If it was clear that the stakeholders would not buy in then abandon in its current form another project should be set up to coax and influence them and then restart the project
- when the project does not fit with the overall strategy of the company. This was met with total unanimity by the group who felt their organisation did too many projects and not all fitted into the company strategy
- when risks are so high that too continue would impact negatively on the company – financial, publicity, health and safety were cited here
Interestingly, no one in the group had ever been involved in abandoning a project, as a project manager, team manager or a sponsor.
A common cry from people who attend our training events are that there are too many projects, not all will be delivered, and not all fit the strategy of the company. How many project have you stopped or to put it another way; how many need to be stopped?