When can a project be considered a failure?
Project termination: When is the right time?
Bridges also points out that many project managers have become so attached to their project and put so much heart and soul into it that they simply don't want to admit to themselves that the project has failed. Unfortunately, not every project goes the way the manager envisioned at the beginning. Often circumstances and needs change. In the worst case, natural disasters, financial crises and national emergencies can derail the project. But also a change in management, technology or available resources, such as personnel, can affect a project to such an extent that it can no longer continue. From some influences a project can recover, from others it cannot. The project manager must recognise exactly that: When does the project have to be terminated?
Identifying failed projects
Five possible indicators of failed projects according to Bridges:
- The project no longer meets the project requirements. Its original goal has become obsolete or cannot be achieved.
- Costs are spiralling out of control and there is no way to recover what has been invested.
- Costs exceed the budget in a significant way and the additional costs can no longer be absorbed.
- External circumstances affect the project so much that its fulfilment becomes impossible.
- There are legal or ethical reasons for abandoning the project.
Of course, there are other reasons that justify project termination. These include conflicts within the project team that persist even after persistent attempts to resolve them. Bridges reiterates that financial losses should be at the forefront of any analysis first. Even at the first losses, budget overruns and cost problems, the question of the project's future should always appear in the back of the manager's mind. Abandonment is always a possibility. Jennifer Bridges warns against "throwing good money after bad money". A lot of money has already been lost. So you should think very carefully about whether you really want to pump further investment into what may already be a fruitless venture. The thought "Now I have already invested so much, it would be a disaster to end the project and write off all these costs" is wrong and will be expensive. After all, if you don't admit to yourself now that the money is lost and instead spend even more money, it will only lead to higher losses. The risk of not recognising a failed project is higher the longer the project lasts. In addition, the risk of one of the above-mentioned external influences occurring is higher for long projects than for projects that only last a few weeks or months. But even in short projects, various factors change the project and may cause it to fail.