How to kill a project gracefully (free PDF)

The decision to pull the plug on a project can be complicated—and making it is never fun. But there are some right ways and wrong ways to go about it. This ebook offers a collection of strategies that can minimize the stress and improve the odds of achieving better results in the future.

From the ebook:

One of the greatest management challenges is knowing when a project has passed the point where it can no longer feasibly be completed. The factors behind terminating a project may vary: the complexity involved, limited staff resources, unrealistic project expectations, a naive and underdeveloped project plan, the loss of key stakeholders, higher priorities elsewhere, or some other element—but it will probably be a combination of some or many of these possibilities.

For example, a company with multiple sites might have decided to migrate from a tape backup environment—which is expensive, time-consuming to administer, and prone to error—to a cloud storage backup solution provided by a third-party vendor. Halfway through implementation it becomes clear the backup process will consume more bandwidth than expected, require an inordinate amount of time to complete backing up servers with hefty storage levels, and cost more in the long run than the existing tape solution, which can be refactored for cheaper, simpler, and more efficient administration. Clearly this is the proverbial “record coming off the needle” moment at which a harsh truth must be acknowledged.

It’s all too easy to get trapped in the mindset of wasted investment. When we’ve invested time, labor, and reputation on the completion of a project that might not pan out, the pain of losing existing investments can be a terrible burden to shoulder. However, it’s important to take a look at the big picture.

In its 2016 report Putting digital to work the lean digital way, Genpact said,”Our research indicates that if the right strategies aren’t adopted, nearly US$400 billion per year could end up in initiatives that return inadequate ROI. What’s more, these mistakes could provoke strategically dangerous delays in adopting digital business and operating models—and that could result in significant missed opportunities.”

More unsettling is the fact that according to the report, “on average only 33% of significant IT projects have been fully successful since the year 2000. Worse, that figure falls below 20% for projects larger than US$3 million.”

It’s clear that a graceful exit strategy is needed for projects that must be euthanized. Here are 10 tips to help you pull it off and move forward to more fruitful pastures.

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