As project managers, we make hard calls nearly every day. But the hardest call by far is pulling the plug on a project. You’d think this kind of decision would be a death wish, especially in the more competitive organizations. But if you spin it right, then cancelling your project may start you on the path to greater success.
Save Your Company Money by Not Wasting It
“Zombie” projects are projects that just keep going, long after any chance of success has faded. These are projects fated to fail—if they ever get completed. Few project managers are willing to walk away from a project like this. Instead, they keep working to either “get their money’s worth,” or to avoid taking the blame for an incomplete project—never mind that the project completely fails its objectives.
Do the organization a huge favor and kill it. You’ll probably encounter resistance, but you have to make your case properly to get the stakeholders to see reason. Once it’s buried, you can spend your resources on other, more fruitful projects, and you’ll (hopefully) be recognized for your pragmatism.
Strategize and Prioritize
As a project manager, you do more than just execute plans. You need to think strategically and gauge how the project benefits the organization. In an ideal world, management and the PMO would work together to create a project that aligns with the organization’s goals. But even projects with such good beginnings can shift off course, either through scope creep or a changing market.
When that happens, project managers have to be ready to adjust and compensate for this change in direction. If the change is too drastic, however, you may be better off scrapping the project entirely. It’s far better to stop a misaligned project midway through than release it and deal with the disastrous aftermath. Project managers that can display this kind of strategic thinking and commitment to the organization will be highly treasured.
Be a Guardian of Quality
Project managers should be the final word when it comes to quality, even more than the stakeholders or client. Any low quality product that crosses our desks risks damaging our brand and ruining our reputations with customers. This kind of attitude may irritate clients, who just want to push it out the door, but they need to know that we have the client’s best interests at heart.
So the next time you encounter a sinking project, take a long hard look and assess whether or not it’s worth keeping. After all, a low-quality product can be more disastrous than none at all.
Image credit, Flickr, Tom Magliery