Sometimes, after a weekend’s sleep, you’ll be able to smile again and go back to work on a project you worked so hard on. But then you realize that you’re losing the battle. How do you know when to quit a project? Here are some useful tips and hints to help you when a project goes sour:
1. Stay calm and show leadership
Listen to people’s concerns immediately, instead of waiting for the project to fail. Remaining calm will allow accountability issues to be addressed in greater detail during the review stage. Focus on the solutions and not the problems, and be transparent. Communicate openly with everyone, even if it’s just a quick phone call or email to let them know that you have a plan. This will prevent any surprises later.
2. Do not waste more resources
It is a common reaction to problems to spend more money, time, and resources on the project. However, this is not always the best thing to do. It is important to think about how much money and time it will take to make the project pay off. It’s important to take stock of what you have achieved and to save money on projects that haven’t been successful.
3. Always have a backup plan
Checkpoints should be established during the planning stage to ensure that if the project seems to be in trouble, you have exit points from which you can terminate the project with minimal impact. Your company could be dependent on the success of this project. It is important to have a Plan B. This is essential in a B2B environment, where deadlines must be met.
4. Focus on the desired outcome and review it.
It is important to allow everyone to cool off after the project has settled. This will give everyone a clear plan for the review stages. Everyone could share their best and worst moments, as well as what they would change. Next, evaluate possible approaches for future projects. Consider the knock-on effects of other activities in your project plan and the costs and risk of each.
5. Training and follow-up
After identifying the problems, you can look at ways your team can move forward. You might suggest that team members make personal improvements. You could compile a checklist based on all the points in your review. Then, provide training in areas where people are lacking. This will increase your team’s confidence and help you to fill in any knowledge gaps. Do not try to solve all problems at once.

Project management is not perfect. There will always be a project that goes wrong. A good project manager can keep everyone calm and manage the situation well. A leader will accept it all as experience and realize that it’s all part being a project manager.

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PMP(r), Blog – 5 Steps to Take When a Project Goes Bad