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The importance of killing projects Logo aicpa

  Neil Amato |   Free |   AICPA |   01 Apr 2017 |   Journal of Accountancy

This article explores an often overlooked aspect of project management - ending the project.

Topics covered:
  • Management accounting: Business: Project management, Intermediate
  • Employee benefit plan auditing: Business: Project management, Intermediate
  • Governmental auditing: Business: Project management, Intermediate
  • Financial accounting & reporting: Business: Project management, Intermediate
  • Assurance: Business: Project management, Intermediate
  • Not-for-profit: Business: Project management, Intermediate
  • IT management & assurance: Business: Project management, Intermediate
  • Firm practice management: Business: Project management, Intermediate
  • Tax: Business: Project management, Intermediate
  • Forensic & valuation services: Business: Project management, Intermediate
  • Fair value measurement: Business: Project management, Intermediate
  • Personal financial planning: Business: Project management, Intermediate

8 Comments/Reflections

Stephen Gradwell

Stephen Gradwell Nov 2019

Very seldom is there a culture of introspection and reflection within organizations, particularly larger organizations to determine if a project was a success. I think if there was more of a review I think the organizations would be more capable of stopping projects that don't add value. Generally whether a project should be stopped should come down to value. For what we are paying (cost), for the quality (scope) we are getting and for the time it will take is it adding value to our business. 

Value does not necessarily have to equate to monetary value but you can't do many projects that don't add to your financial bottom line. 
Glory Isaacs

Glory Isaacs Jul 2018

Killing or stopping a project should be an integral part of Project Management. Knowing when to stop a project, and to take the decision and action to stop it is critical to avoid losing and wasting more resources than necessary.

Decisions to kill a project a usually delayed by softer issues like ego's  and feelings of the people involved.

To ensure that this decision is not delayed, there should be a role within each project whose purpose is to ask the question 'should we continue or kill the project', based on current situation.

There are many examples of projects that took long to be stopped, and did not realize the envisaged return. Killing a project when required is not failure, but failing to kill a project when all indications are that it should be- is failure.
Dengmei Xia

Dengmei Xia Dec 2017

I used to think that stopping a project meant failure and lacked determination to stop projects. This article has largely changed my mind about project management. As Donny Shimamoto said, “stopping a project is not a failure” “Failing to stop a project when it should have been stopped: That's failure." Sometimes stopping a project will have a better effect.I have the same idea with the author. Ego is most important factor why projects being killed too slowly or not at all. Ownership, momentum and inertia, culture and sunk costs can also affect killing projects.
Biraj Patel

Biraj Patel Dec 2017

Waqar Hussain

Waqar Hussain Oct 2017

Very good article which highlights the issues involved in appraising projects and the difficulties that could come up when deciding to kill a project. The biggest challenge appears to be the invested interest the project team have in the project and sometimes have a desperation to succeed at any cost to the detriment of the company. Having someone review the project who is not so deeply involved can help this issue and the company could be better off focusing resources elsewhere.

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