Risk Management

6 Strategies for Canceling a Major IT Project

In spite of your best intentions, sometimes a project just does not work out. You can either cut your losses, or you can continue maniacally dumping money into the quicksand. For those of you who choose the former, John Brandon writes an article for CIO.com about strategies for canceling a big IT project.

Six Ways to Axe It

  1. Get support from other executives.
  2. Make sure you really cannot save the project.
  3. Communicate about the ‘why.’
  4. Know your contract.
  5. Learn from the process.
  6. Be specific about the numbers.

Seeking the support of other executives at the outset of deciding to cancel a project is smart. It allows you to communicate internally ahead of time so that the repercussions are less disruptive later. But it is important to establish that there really is no way to save the project. In order to decide definitely, first consider the original scope of the project, the skillsets of its people, requirements materials, testing process, and sponsor expectations. Be looking for clues in there as to what brought the project to failure, and see if it might be possible to alter the scope and negotiate a new agreement for the project.

If the project truly must end up on the scrap heap though, it is your duty to communicate why to sponsors and customers. This must be done to alleviate concerns that one cancellation might beget others, or that a culture of incompetence is brewing. You will want to be as specific as you can too, especially in your post mortem, where you can demonstrate transparency about things like costs incurred and vendors affected.

About knowing your contract, Brandon says:

Before ever cancelling an IT project, whether it's internal or external, make sure you read the fine print, says Dufour. Contracts spell out exactly what happens if you do cancel the project. There might be wind-down periods, terms governing how you can renew the contract and even a termination fee. Educate yourself on the contractual obligations. Then, do the hard work of involving legal counsel for the company if necessary and understanding the terms.

After that, just remember to learn from the whole process. If you and others know why the project failed, then you should know how to create requirements next time that circumvent the issue. For more insights, you can read the full article here: http://www.cio.com/article/2604010/project-management/6-strategies-for-cancelling-a-major-it-project.html

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