Project Management

How to Put Projects 'On Hold'

Elizabeth is a freelance writer and project manager living and working in London. She runs The Otobos Group, a project communications consultancy specializing in project management.

When business priorities change, projects get put on hold. As the project manager, you might then have to take on a different project. But how should you manage and report a project that is paused? In this article, I’ll share several tips for moving a project to “on hold” status.

The reason doesn’t matter
First point: The reason for the project going on hold doesn’t matter. Whether it’s due to lack of resources, a major shift in business priorities or a key project resource going off sick, it’s all the same on the portfolio report.

Yes, you’re going to have to explain the reason to others, but once the decision has been made, the reason becomes largely irrelevant.

Let the team know about the change
You and the project sponsor have talked—probably at length—about pausing the project, but does everyone else know?

Make sure your communication plans include telling the rest of the core project team and any stakeholders.

They should finish up and file any project documentation or information they have so that it can easily be retrieved later. Remember: It might not be you leading the project when it starts up again, so leave everything as tidily as you can.

Work with suppliers
If your paused project used external suppliers, they probably still expect to be paid. After all, it’s your decision to …

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- Groucho Marx