Business Cases and ‘Ending Projects’

Interesting post by Trevor Roberts on ‘5 Reasons To Kill A Project‘.

In summary, the reasons offered are:

  1. Too expensive
  2. Not Good Enough
  3. Competitor Beats You To Market
  4. More Important Project
  5. Changed Business Plans

Killing a project can be a very difficult thing to do; the team may be concerned about what they are going to do next (staff morale), the project manager may think that he will be viewed as a ‘failure’ and the project stakeholders may be uneasy as their annual budget may get cut as a result. These are all negatives of course, based on fear and worry and perhaps motivated by past experience. This situation is not uncommon – everyone is geared to wanting ‘success’ or (at least) perceived success.

However it may well be that ending, scaling down or amalgamating projects may be the best way forward for all sorts of reasons. If this happens it’s important that the lessons of this are learnt and fed back into future project business cases – they often aren’t!

The business case should hopefully identify most of the major risks prior to project start and then proactive risk management during the project will discover new issues as well as monitor the known problems and uncertainties. Business cases are often primarily viewed as a way of ‘obtaining funds’. They are but they should also lay a solid foundation for healthy projects and this can only be carried out by feeding back project results, positive and negative, over time.

One quick check is, if you’re writing a business case can you quickly and easily find the major or most relevant (verifiable) lessons learnt over (say) the last 5 years and, in addition, do you know who to talk to for further project insights? If the answer is ‘no’ then you’ve identified one risk straightaway but at least it’s a risk that can be worked on!


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