Projects can die a good death

Hello.  My name is Inigo Montoya.  You killed my project.  Prepare to die.

Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my project. Prepare to die.

Nice to see that projects are being ended more often than I would have thought.  Michael Krigsman (here) points to a survey (here) where just under 45 percent of the surveyed organizations claimed to have ended a IT project before it was fully implemented.

Roughly half of these projects were stopped for business-related reasons: changed priorities or business needs or because they didn’t align with business strategy.  Another 40 percent were ended because of what sound like project execution issues: they didn’t deliver as promised or were over budget.

A big miss IMO, is that the survey results don’t note the phase in which these projects were ended or how much of the budgeted cost was spent.  That would have given more insight into how effective the portfolio review processes really were.

Based on my experience, projects stopped for business reasons experience a quick and efficient death.  Any rudimentary portfolio process — even if informal — usually catches these issues earlier and dispatches them in such a way that all know that it was the right thing to do.  Sadly, poorly executed projects often become undead zombies or vampires — hiding and spending in the dark — until someone finally puts a stake in their hearts (FYI, zombie execution techniques here).

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One Response

  1. Hi Paul R,
    The question that concerns me is how these zombie projects came to life in the first place.

    I can appreciate if external events (changing business climate) causes otherwise good projects to become unwise or unprofitable, but how or why is it so many projects continue to “fail”. (Not only IT. FMI http://www.fminet.com has done credible research indicating that construction projects are only slightly better than IT in terms of being on time and within budget)

    Something is fundamentally wrong, and I suspect the problems lie in failing to invest enough time/effort “up front” during the conceptual phases.

    BR,
    Dr. PDG, Jakarta

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