January 30, 2023

Y M L P-211

Business – Once You

The Project Kill Switch and Project Management

A wise man once said, Project Management is doing project rights. Portfolio Management is doing the right mix of projects. Depending upon how your organization is utilizing information technology will be portrayed in your organization’s project mix. Currently, we have a small project expense organization mix. Mostly upgrades and minor enhancements, some of it has to do with the economy and non-existent capital. Others can be viewed on how we have not yet achieved the term strategic business enabler. Some projects should be placed out into the pasture of long lost opportunities. Yet we continue to strive towards these endeavors.

Let’s talk about some of the common characteristics displayed and when a project should be terminated.

  • Lack of Sponsorship: Ever been on a project where the executive sponsor was walked to the door. Chances are the project should be halted and evaluated for re-engagement when the management renewal process comes to fruition
  • Priority Changed: Its hard to keep the momentum on a project that jumps from critical to low to medium to low. Any degrade in priority should place the project on the murder board.
  • Missed the target date: If you needed it by X, and it is now 30 days past X and it maybe another 60 days to get it done. Its time to decide if the moment of opportunity has past.
  • Increased Risk: If in your risk management process, there is suddenly significant increased risk. It is time for the review of the kill criteria.
  • Evil Vile uncontrolled Scope Creep: Do you have more scope changes than project tasks? Uncontrolled scope is just a project awaiting for the kill switch.
  • Will not achieve benefits: If it doesn’t have business benefits, don’t do it. Could you imagine asking an organization to invest half a million in an upgrade, but still keep those life saving pharmacy rules turned off. If the project isn’t going to realize the benefits, it is time to work on items which will.
  • Severe Vendor Management Issues: Suffering from a vendor who no longer answers the phone, or perhaps the latest release has been missed. Be sure to review the dissolution terms in the contract, it may be time to execute those terms.

So if on your project dashboard, you notice 5 – 10 projects which should be killed what do you do? One suggestion is to have a project murder board, and for any of the poor performers have to have the sponsor justify the continued investment.

An easier item from a go-forward philosophy is to have project cancellation criteria right in the charter. It is easier to say based upon any of the above situations, that the project will be brought before governance for a value review. A part of this best practice to make the project manager accountable for triggering the review.