Accepting Project Failure

Project managers will shudder at the thought of this phrase, but sometimes accepting failure and moving on is the best choice. PMs will hesitate considering their personal reputation, the reputation of the IT team, job security, and sunk costs.

As projects begin to slip past deadlines and go over budget those involved sense the risks that are accumulating. As this continues and executive demands increase it becomes more apparent that the project is in serious trouble. Systems are not seamlessly flowing, technical implementations are not working, and the roles of the project team members are becoming fuzzy. When is it time to pull the plug?

Hind sight is 20/20 as they say and at this point you and your team are probably seeing a much more viable solution than the project that you have currently under taken. It’s time to take out your ROI and risk assessment calculators.  Also it’s a good idea to review any contracts that you may have signed with vendors for this project.

Consider this: How much have you already spent versus how much more will it likely cost to complete this project? Obviously the original time estimates were inaccurate so try to use more realistic estimates based on the pace of the project so far.

Can you get out of your vendor contracts?

How much will an alternate solution cost? Remember REALISTIC estimates here.

Is it possible to get the project back on track?

There are hundreds of books that outline the reasons why IT projects fail. Use some resources to pinpoint what may have happened in this project to determine if you should call it quits or attempt to remedy the situation.

In the end, if the project is a failure you have to accept it, deal with this reality, and learn from your mistakes. It may be a good idea to revamp your project team and find an experienced PM mentor to help plan for round 2. This will be your opportunity for redemption where you will be able to plan and manage the project in a way that increases the chances for success.

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