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Ein guter Vorsatz für 2019: Projekte beerdigen

“Ein guter Vorsatz für 2019: Projekte beerdigen” (“A good intention for 2019: to bury projects”) on Handelsblatt, 11/29/18.

Translated from German…

Justify the project

In the end, the hardest question is: to continue or not? In this process, project managers should not allow further money to be invested in a failing project, advises expert Zucker. The likelihood of completing the project must be carefully weighted against the total money expected to be spent. Phrases like “We have already spent so much” should not justify spending more. A mistake, warns project management experts.

Instead, managers should put their balance sheet to zero and rethink: what costs will be incurred in the future, what returns are expected?“Theoretically everyone knows that the past should not matter,” says Zucker. “In practice, however, this is done over and over again wrong.”

Few advisers

Missed deadlines, angry customers, disagreements in the team and employees who are looking for the breadth – at the latest when such problems occur, it is time to put projects to the test, says Alan Zucker, founder of Project Management Essentials. It helps the objective assessment of an expert who has had nothing to do with the project so far. Because employees in the project are often subject to a “confirmation bias”.

It states: “They automatically filter out information that confirms their previous assessment and ignore inconsistency.” As a result, senior executives tend to ignore the counter-arguments and continue meaningless projects.

However, finding suitable external guides is not easy. If you are lucky, you have a mentor at your side. At management consultancy, however, at least caution is advised: After all, many consultants will hardly spoil their own business by advising them to kill the project. Managers and  colleagues from the neighboring department may provide less unbiased opinions.