Project Management Central

Please login or join to subscribe to this thread

Topics: IT Project Management, PMI Standards
Should CANCELLATION be 11th management field in PMBOK?
Network:33



Most scary thing for project managers and project sponsors is to cancel project or to talk about cancellation of the project, so that, most of the time, nobody wants to open the door for cancellation subject, but we must. Why? Let me give a real example.

“5 years ago, an insurance company commenced a transformation project containing core insurance software implementation. They planned to complete the project in 12 months with $11Million budget. At the end of three years, the project couldn’t be completed and cancelled with $45Million loss. They spent 4 times more than budgeted amount of project.

- Why didn’t they cancel the project at the end of 12 months when they understood the failure or at the end of 16 Months or when they spent $15Million or $22Million?

- Why they waited for three years and spent $45Million instead of $11Million?

- Because they didn’t have cancellation plan.

- Because they didn’t have cancellation criteria and constraints.

- Because they didn’t talk about cancellation constraints at the beginning of the project, especially in the planning phase of it.”

It might be a good debate subject to make cancellation as 11th subject title in project management body of knowledge. If the projects mostly fail and companies lose millions of dollars because of late cancellation of the projects, we have to think about and discuss about the cancellation subject more and I think we have to include it into project management body of knowledge.

None of the projects are commenced to be cancelled, but the project managers should seriously and carefully consider and discuss cancellation constrains with sponsors or steering committee of the project at a specific time. Cancellation constraints and criteria don’t need to be public to all project team. It is well-enough that PM and sponsors know cancellation conditions. May be, you have also similar examples of projects that caused millions of dollars loss because of late cancellation of it. If you have, please share your story in comments section of this article.
Sort By:
Page: 1 2 next>
Network:487



You raise an excellent point. Projects should have an escape clause in the form of a cancellation plan. This would allow the creation of objective criteria Project Managers could use to help decide when to cancel a project. Many US businesspeople negatively regard canceling a project as ‘quitting’ or ‘failure’, so they tend to continue projects instead of cancelling them. This often occurs when a high-level executive sponsor is trying to avoid being associated with a failed project. Cancellation criteria would help keep ego out of the cancellation decision by giving stakeholders a way to cancel a project without losing face. I'm going to begin including a Cancellation Plan as part of my projects.
...
1 reply by Curtis Smith
Feb 09, 2018 8:31 AM
Curtis Smith
...
The challenge is that Project Managers don’t decide when to cancel a project. Project sponsors or executives do that. The PMs challenge is to draw out and document an expression of conditions that would make cancellation a better decision than continuing. You’re right that no one wants to be associated with a failed project, so decision-makers need an “out” that will help them frame cancellation as a smart choice in the face of adverse conditions. It may be helpful to remember that Thomas Edison tried,and rejected, about a thousand different materials for a light bulb filament before he found one that worked. He didn’t fail a thousand times. He persevered, and found a thousand things that weren’t the further waste of time and expense. No one would dare claim Edison wasn’t intelligent and forward-thinking.
Network:768



What you describe is due to the lack of a formal, proper, and comprehensive project management methodology, with a clear project life cycle, phases, stages, and stage gates.

A stage-gate process is the likely answer to that situation.

Further, keep in mind that the project business case (approval or cancellation) is most likely outside of the project manager mandate.
Network:1627



It should not be as a separate chapter because the target for PM is to make all due diligent (reasonable legal) to ensure the success of a project. Therefore, it is more wise to involve the PM in the inception stage as early as possible to analyze the business case and continue evaluate the financial benefit through out the stages of the project.
Network:12770



I'm not sure Aydin if there should be a separate knowledge area for "Cancellations", but perhaps "Transition" could include areas on termination/cancellation, preparation for maintenance, handovers/transition etc.

There is a lot of work that goes on and issues that arise after project closure, including some of the ones you mentioned. Sometimes things get swept under the carpet or fall down the cracks.
Network:10921



Project cancellation is included in the PMBoK, as part of the Closing Process Group.

"This Process Group also formally establishes the premature closure of the project. Prematurely closed projects may include aborted projects, cancelled projects, and projects in critical situation. In specific cases, when some contracts can not be formally closed (e.g claims, ending clauses, etc.) or somne activities are to be transferred to other organizational units, specific hand-over procedures may be arranged and finalized."

That beig said, setting up gates throughout the project with Go/No Go decisions based on a defined criteria could be a solution to mitigate or avoid the issue.
...
1 reply by Mounir Ajam
Feb 09, 2018 4:24 AM
Mounir Ajam
...
Eduard

Close Project process is about the steps to close a project or phase whether the project is completed or terminated. However, it does not include the decision making actions for terminating (cancelling) a project.
Network:1612



Decisions about cancel, kill, on-hold projects or programs must be taken in the framework of governance process. There is a simple framework named "Stage Gate" that most of the organizations are using. So, in my opinion, it has no sense to put it into the PMBOK. It is a matter of strategy and the only responsability a project/program manager has is to assure that all activities related to put information into the right hands (hands of people that must be take the decision) are done on time.
...
1 reply by Mounir Ajam
Feb 09, 2018 4:30 AM
Mounir Ajam
...
Sergio, you know it is in the PMBOK Guide, although not spelled out or is specific about cancellation.

The discussions on a project life cycle is in the PMBOK Guide. Also, the concept of stage-gate, although it was absent from the 3rd to the 5th edition. The six edition finally recognized the need to re-instate it and even include a picture of the stage gate process.

So - the decision to stop a project or continue is a stage gate decision. Unfortunately, many do not see what is documented in Ch 1 to 3 of the guide and only look for a specific process, or in this case, a knowledge area.

Also, many forget that the PMBOK Guide is not a methodology, and it clearly states that to manage projects effectively, we need a methodology. Yet, numerous professionals and organizations ignore this fact and wants to manage the projects per the "PMI Methodology" that does not exist.
Network:768



Feb 09, 2018 3:27 AM
Replying to Eduard Hernandez
...
Project cancellation is included in the PMBoK, as part of the Closing Process Group.

"This Process Group also formally establishes the premature closure of the project. Prematurely closed projects may include aborted projects, cancelled projects, and projects in critical situation. In specific cases, when some contracts can not be formally closed (e.g claims, ending clauses, etc.) or somne activities are to be transferred to other organizational units, specific hand-over procedures may be arranged and finalized."

That beig said, setting up gates throughout the project with Go/No Go decisions based on a defined criteria could be a solution to mitigate or avoid the issue.
Eduard

Close Project process is about the steps to close a project or phase whether the project is completed or terminated. However, it does not include the decision making actions for terminating (cancelling) a project.
Network:768



Feb 09, 2018 4:16 AM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
Decisions about cancel, kill, on-hold projects or programs must be taken in the framework of governance process. There is a simple framework named "Stage Gate" that most of the organizations are using. So, in my opinion, it has no sense to put it into the PMBOK. It is a matter of strategy and the only responsability a project/program manager has is to assure that all activities related to put information into the right hands (hands of people that must be take the decision) are done on time.
Sergio, you know it is in the PMBOK Guide, although not spelled out or is specific about cancellation.

The discussions on a project life cycle is in the PMBOK Guide. Also, the concept of stage-gate, although it was absent from the 3rd to the 5th edition. The six edition finally recognized the need to re-instate it and even include a picture of the stage gate process.

So - the decision to stop a project or continue is a stage gate decision. Unfortunately, many do not see what is documented in Ch 1 to 3 of the guide and only look for a specific process, or in this case, a knowledge area.

Also, many forget that the PMBOK Guide is not a methodology, and it clearly states that to manage projects effectively, we need a methodology. Yet, numerous professionals and organizations ignore this fact and wants to manage the projects per the "PMI Methodology" that does not exist.
Network:768



What is missing is for PMI to expand and emphasize topics other than processes.

Just to make an observation: I have probably seen tens if not hundreds of posts on the changes between the 5th and 6th edition. Almost all, mention the changes to the knowledge areas and processes. Not to forget the PMI hot topic of Agile and tailoring.

I do not recall a single post that shows the added emphasis in Part 2 and Chapter 1 or 2 about the project life cycle, the process groups repeating in every phase, and the stage gate. This show either a lack of focus or a lack of understanding of the PMBOK Guide and the purpose of the guide.

I hope readers take this comments as a point of focus and emphasize a critical point rather than a critique of anyone.
Network:943



As Sergio has indicated, the decision to terminate a project early should be made consistently across the portfolio and hence falls within the domain of PPM governance. What is part of the project management domain is ensuring that accurate KPIs are being reported to help governance committees make proceed/pivot/punt decisions.

When I used to assess so organizational PPM maturity, evidence of timely project termination was one of the data points I looked for..

Kiron
Page: 1 2 next>  

Please login or join to reply

Content ID:
ADVERTISEMENTS

"There's a Mr. Bartlett to see you, sir."

- Graham Chapman, Monty Python's Flying Circus

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsors