In business we tend to create our own speed bumps in the road that anyone else. Yes, there are an incredible amount of challenges that come directly from outside of your business. These are called external impacts or variables. You don’t have the global economy hanging by a string so you have to react rather than command many of your processes. However you’re not helpless because projects are the framework from which your business will need to stride. For example, a project could be something that is dealing with experimental software. You’re creating something new, something that you have never done before. It’s a project because it’s a scope of different procedures and processes that you have put together in order to make a coherent tangible progress. This could be in product design, material testing, it could be about marketing, video content making and the classic birthing of a new product. But not everything goes to plan all the time, and this can mean projects go off the rails. When should you cancel a project or deem it non-viable in its current form?
The black hole
Quite clearly, if a project is not what you thought it would be in terms of spending you have to consider how far you will be taking it any further. The most common reason for any kind of project being cancelled or dropped temporarily is because of the costs. When you’re throwing money at the project and no serious progress is being made, this is quite clearly a good reason to shut the project down. Bear in mind, if your project hasn’t gotten close to completion and you’re spending far more money on it than you had planned for, this can lead into a spiral of descending expenditures. For example, you are creating a product that is for the smartphone industry such as earphones. If the technology that you were working on is sub-par and your competitors have upgraded or released new products that show the inferiority of your product, chances are you’ll try to improve it before you launch it. However if you cannot create a better or equal product then your extra funding for the project has been in vain. This is when you need to take stock of the project, and consider cancelling or just releasing it as it is and trying to recoup some of your wasted funds.
Controlling a stage
Business projects are continually changing. As aforementioned you project might be improved better than you planned for with extra funding. However if you want to control the potential losses that you make internally, then you have to weigh up the options you have before pushing the button. A course like PRINCE2 that Flexilern offers has a section called ‘controlling a stage’ which is all about continued risk assessment. Not only will you initially plan your risks and study them, but as the project changes, you’ll be assessing the new or prevalent risks that come with them. For example if you change roles in your project team, this is something that needs to be weighed up quickly so you make the right decision. As we know people have a huge impact on the direction of projects, so balancing competency with temperament is something you need to calculate effectively, but do so on the fly. If the risk is too high and you cannot find a suitable replacement for someone, then this can cause the project to be put on hold and temporarily deemed non-viable.
The employee and direction
Employees have a massive impact on the direction in which the project travels; especially senior and or middle management staff. Based on the critical decisions that your employees in leading roles make, a project can either thrive or die. Perhaps this is one of the toughest things to do, but you have to see the damage an employee is doing to a project as well as the good they are doing. For example, if they had a remarkable choice of materials that are durable but they chose a less durable material because it was aesthetically pleasing despite the project and product not needing this, automatically their judgement comes into question. A scenario like this is when you can deem a project unsustainable with this particular leader at the helm. Many projects have had to be cancelled and labeled non-viable because of how they were lead.
It’s sad when a project with so much initial hope, is at the end without achieving its goals. However you have to make continued risk assessments to avoid a project from dying due to poor management. This often means weekly report writing and a hands-on approach.