Pull the plug

The most effective way to limit the negative impact of a failing project is knowing not only when to cancel it but also how to cancel it. This article features two project professionals discussing--via a question-and-answer format--approaches for canceling failing projects. In doing so, it examines such related concerns as identifying when to cancel a project, recognizing which factors commonly cause project termination, perceiving the difference between project termination and project failure, understanding the problems that occur from not terminating failing projects, and explaining the process for terminating failing projects. It also defines the project manager's role in making decisions to terminate projects, in developing approaches to communicating termination decisions, and in closing projects and conducting post-mortems. Accompanying this article is a sidebar listing nine key signs that indicate when a project is veering off-course and may warrant cancellation.
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