Cancel projects that won’t deliver!

The prospect of having your project terminated, cancelled or axed (whatever sugar coated term you’d like to insert here) fills many a project manager with trepidation, maybe even a pervasive feeling of dread. I’m not even going to touch on the failure perspective!

But these days it is an all too often occurrence.

Organisations operate in increasingly challenging and ever changing environments. The end result is that projects that were once critical for the organisations on-going success may later become misaligned to the organisations latest strategy. In such cases, these projects will either need to be realigned or risk not delivering sufficient, if any,business value to justify the forecast spend to complete the endeavour.

Let’s get real for a moment. Projects are investments and investing is risky by nature. Organisations invest today in the projects future outcome. There is an expectation that there will be some form of reward for that risk (“risk vs. reward” factor). If circumstances change and the project no longer provides a viable platform for a return on that investment then why continue to invest. Is it more prudent to cut ones losses (and reallocate the spend in areas that will deliver ROI)!

The fact is, things will change during the life-cycle of projects, but not before you’ve spent money (and maybe even exceeded the organisations risk-return trade-off). Is it prudent to continue investment in a project that won’t deliver the expected returns. I think not.

Indeed projects that will not meet their intended objectives or no longer provide acceptable levels of business value should be terminated. From an organisational perspective cancelling such projects may be viewed by the various stakeholders as positive, a sign of leadership strength, one that gives a sense of purpose and renewed focus for those projects that continue.

Unfortunately, those poor project managers facing an axed project may not see this in the same positive light.

What do you think? Have you been on the receiving end of such news?

2 responses to “Cancel projects that won’t deliver!

  1. Hi Neil,
    Great post with some good points. It’s clear that in the current cilmate, constrained capital markets and economic uncertainty have made such decision-making even more common and there’s an incredible pressure to control costs, manage capital and mitigate risk.

    Many organizations are turning to specific EPPM solutions to ensure they gain real-time visibility across the project portfolio in order to enable financial discipline and control risk. Have you heard about the Oracle Primavera Virtual Summit 2013? This year it will detail how Primavera P6 EPPM and a range of other industry-leading tools such as Instantis or Unifier can help dramatically improve project planning and execution.

    If you or others would be interested in attending, you can register here:

    #PrimaSummit #EPPM

    • Hi Sarah,

      Thank you for your comment. Very much appreciated.

      I agree many organisations have or are turning to EPPM solutions; often simply to put some kind of order to their project chaos and others to identify projects that offer little than waste expenditure.

      I used Primavera before Oracle acquired it. It would be interesting to see how Oracle has improved the EPPM platform.


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