Terminate Unworthy Projects


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Our blog series – “Master Project Management” covers some of the essentials of the art and science of project management. It talks about defining true needs, building a solid team, and performing a financial analysis. It addresses how you can find the right balance points between extremes like “managing everything vs. managing nothing” and “doing work yourself vs. letting the team do everything.” This series will help develop the foundation you need to become a high performing project manager.

Terminate Unworthy Projects

The most fundamental objective of a project is to achieve business results. That means providing a certain amount of return on the proposed investment. Yet in too many organizations, management gets complacent, allowing approved projects to proceed without any further assessment of likely payback. As a result, projects that are no longer profitable are allowed to continue on to completion.

This approach is foolhardy, since so many things can change during a project. Surely your company would be better off in the long run if you revisited the business plan for the project. And that means a complete reassessment: looking at all investments (time, money, personnel, equipment, materials, etc.) and all benefits (customer satisfaction, increased market penetration, bigger revenues, reduced waste, less overhead, etc.). Such a reevaluation should occur at each main stage of the project: after initial exploration, after data collection, after you’ve identified solutions, and prior to full-scale implementation.

To maximize your company’s return on its project investments:
Stay alert to significant changes: It’s a mistake to assume that the project estimate at the beginning will stay the same to the very end. Situations change, sometimes quickly, so it’s not only possible but likely that conditions will change to alter your original assessment of the business case for a given project. Periodically reevaluate the economic viability of every project.

Avoid the term “failure”: In too many organizations, early termination of a project is viewed as failure. To the contrary, stopping a project for the right reasons is smart management: it allows management to divert resources to higher-priority efforts.

Beware of letting inertia win: Every project generates a certain amount of inertia. People develop ownership and the team and its sponsors think, “We really have to see this through to the end.” Couple those feelings with the sweat equity invested and you have conditions that favor continuing projects that should be stopped.

WorkOtter helps you successfully execute your program process strategy for project success. Get a demo of WorkOtter and see how we can make your program management effective.

Next Step: Understand Team Dynamics

“Project Management: 24 Lessons to Help You Master Any Project” by Gary R. Heerkens is a copyrighted work of McGraw-Hill and McGraw-Hill reserves all rights in and to the Content. ©2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. Purchase the book on Amazon.