When to kill or recover a failing IT project

By Hassan Khalid

When to kill or recover a failing IT project

Admitting failure is never easy, but we only learn from making mistakes. Sometimes deciding to terminate the project is the best decision for your business. Then again, scrapping a project means money, resources, and valuable company time have been wasted. 

There need to be clear indications that wrapping a project will prevent further damage to your finances, staff morale, and reputation. Otherwise, finding an excellent project recovery solution is the best choice. 

However, knowing which decision is the right one isn’t always straightforward. 

Spotting the signs

There are certain early warning signs which indicate whether a project will be successful. However, like the early warning signs of a common cold, we tend to ignore them and dismiss them as unimportant or coincidental. 

Signs of failure which become more clear as the project goes on are useful in determining whether to continue or end the project. For example, strong executive involvement increases the likelihood of project success by 43%. But, only 60% of projects get that level of support.

It’s retrospective indicators like these that can help you determine whether continuing is the correct choice. If you have had all the right processes in place from the start, you could be in with a good chance of recovery. But if you haven’t had the right measures, staff, or support from day one, you might need to start over. 

Your team

Internal conflicts will keep once-promising projects firmly on the path to failure. For example, the marketing team may claim the project is still a great idea despite its failures. Yet the IT and engineering team might see the concept as flawed which doesn’t allow them to produce their best work. No one is on the same page.

Internal conflicts like this don’t result in successful projects. If after meetings, discussions, brain-storming sessions, and team-building exercises people can’t agree, it is likely time to pull the plug before you suffer further losses.

Unrecoverable costs

The mentality of ‘we’ve gone this far, we can’t stop now’ sometimes does more harm than good. You dig your team into a bigger financial hole but the outcome stays the same. The most common reason people are reluctant to prematurely end a project is because of the damage it can do to their reputations. 

They don’t want to be associated with a failed project for years to come, especially if it was their idea. If hubris or fear of embarrassment is the one thing standing in the way of your saving significant amounts of money, it is time to stop. One bad decision doesn’t define a person. There will be future projects where you can utilise what you’ve learned from the past. But a string of bad decisions when keeping a failing project alive is a pattern, and it will be harder to come back from. 

Getting outside help

The decisions you make surrounding project recovery can be tense and complex. Your personal involvement may also cloud them. You may not want to let your superiors/stakeholders down, have a failed project to your name, or you may have an inability to see the project’s failures because you are so invested.

Outside project recovery specialists can give you the insight you need to assess your project objectively. They can take your team and project through the recovery process with tact and skilful judgement. 

An expert opinion and project recovery team is sometimes the best option. The money you save because of huge ROIs will be greater than the money spent hiring professional help. The sooner you call them, the sooner they could put your project back on the road to success. But if you ignore the signs of failure and carry on, you could wait until it is too late.  

Createk’s team are here to help you with the technical issues your project team isn’t able to deal with. A failing technological project can be hard to steer in the right direction. But our expert team helps you assess your product’s health and use our extensive experience to help you regain control. Visit our website or call us on 0330 995 0685. 

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