There can be a multitude of reasons why troubled projects are delayed in being abandoned or brought under control, but it is important to note that companies often wait too long before taking necessary action on troubled projects. Failure penalties within an organization are high so team members continue to push for the continuation of the project, propensity for taking risks or an emotional attachment to the project, as well as the financial costs already spent on the project are some, but not all the reasons it takes so long to “pull the plug” (Pearlson, Saunders, & Galletta, 2016). As Pearlson, Saunders, & Galletta, (2016, p. 252) state, “Research shows the amount of money already spend on a project biases manager toward continuing to fund the project even if its prospects for success are questionable”. Additionally, poor project management can play a significant role in troubled projects continuing longer than they should. This is unfortunately a common practice globally as the plug is pulled on approximately one out of every five projects (Pearlson, Saunders, & Galletta, 2016).
Project stakeholders can contribute to the continuation of a troubled project because they are either deeply involved with the project or they stand to gain a personal benefit from the project. Royer (2013) makes a fascinating and very poignant point, “The value of someone who is able to pull the plug on a project before it becomes a money sink hasn’t generally been appreciated”. Royer’s point is a great lesson for companies. When a project is bleeding, companies often look at the monthly or quarterly losses vs. the savings of pulling the plug on a failed project.
Project management is a discipline that smaller to mid-size companies without a formal project management office (PMO) often fail at. As Pearlson, Saunders, & Galletta, (2016, p. 232) state, “It is usually not possible to complete a project cheaply, quickly, and with a large scope. To do so usually means introducing errors and completion at a quality level that is too low for acceptance testing”. A strong Project Management Professional (PMP) understands this and can help mitigate risk. A PMP has the proper training to balance a project’s scope, time, and cost. Stewart (2018) discusses “The Accidental Project Manager” and the dangers this poses to project management. “In this instance, what typically happens is that a technical person (software developer, chemist, etc.) succeeds at the job. Based on that, gets promoted to project manager and is asked to manage the types of projects they just came from. The problem is they often don’t get training in project management and may well lack the social skills the job calls for. And so, they flounder and often fail despite previous successes” Stewart (2018).
We can help companies set up their employees for success without becoming “the accidental project manager”. Like the products themselves, quality and compliance strategies must follow strict timelines and budgets. Trust EMMA International’s in-house project management experts to implement your projects effectively, on time, and on budget.
Taking a white-glove approach, our project managers and consultants work alongside your team to create, develop, and/or improve your processes with long-term sustainability in mind. We guarantee your organizational goals are met — at no additional cost to you.
Pearlson, K. E., Saunders, C. S., & Galletta, D. F. (2016). Managing and Using Information Systems A Strategic Approach 6th Edition. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons
Royer, I. (2013, February). Why Bad Projects Are So Hard to Kill. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2003/02/why-bad-projects-are-so-hard-to-kill
Stewart, J. (2018, October) Top 10 Reasons Why Projects Fail. Retrieved from: https://project-management.com/top-10-reasons-why-projects-fail/