Project Management

Project Termination


• A project can be said to be terminated when work on the substance of the project has ceased or slowed to the point that further progress is no longer possible

• There are four fundamentally different ways to close out a project: extinction, addition, integration, and starvation


Termination by Extinction

• The project may end because it has been successful and achieved its goals

• The project may also be stopped because it is unsuccessful or has been superseded

• A special case of termination by extinction is “termination by murder” which can range from political assassination to accidental projecticide

• Two important characteristics of termination by murder are the suddenness of project demise and the lack of obvious signals that death is imminent

• When a decision is made to terminate a project by extinction, the most noticeable event is that all activity on the substance of the project ceases


Termination by Addition

• If a project is a major success, it may be terminated by institutionalizing it as a formal part of the parent organization

• Project personnel, property, and equipment are often simply transferred from the dying project to the newly born division

• The transition from project to division demands a superior level of political sensitivity for successful accomplishment


Termination by Integration

• This method of terminating projects is the most common way of dealing with successful projects, and the most complex

• The property, equipment, material, personnel, and functions of the project are distributed among the existing elements of the parent organization


Termination by Starvation

• This type of project termination is a “slow starvation by budget decrement”

• There are many reasons why senior management does not wish to terminate an unsuccessful or obsolete project:

– Politically dangerous to admit that one has championed a failure

– Terminating a project that has not accomplished its goals is an admission of failure


When to Terminate a Project

• Some questions to ask when considering termination:

– Has the project been obviated by technical advances?

– Is the output of the project still cost-effective?

– Is it time to integrate or add the project as a part of regular operations?

– Are there better alternative uses for the funds, time and personnel devoted to the project?

– Has a change in the environment altered the need for the project’s output?


When to Terminate a Project

• Fundamental reasons why some projects fail to produce satisfactory answers to termination questions:

– A project organization is not required

– Insufficient support from senior management

– Naming the wrong person as project manager

– Poor planning

• These and a few other reasons are the base cause of most project failures

• The specific causes derive from these, fundamental issues


The Termination Process

• The termination process has two distinct parts

– First is the decision whether or not to terminate

– Second, if the decision is to terminate the project, the termination process must be carried out

• The actual termination can be planned and orderly

• Special termination managers are sometimes useful in shutting down a project

• The primary duties of the manager in charge of termination can be encompassed in nine general tasks

• Duties of the termination manager:

1. Ensure completion of the work, including tasks performed by subcontractors

2. Notify the client of project completion and ensure that delivery is accomplished

3. Ensure that documentation is complete including a terminal evaluation of the project deliverables and preparation of the project’s Final Report

4. Clear for final billings and oversee preparation of the final invoices sent to the client

5. Redistribute personnel, materials equipment, and any other resources to the appropriate places

6. Clear project with legal counsel or consultant

7. Determine what records to keep

8. Ascertain any product support requirements, decide how each support will be delivered, and assign responsibility

9. Oversee the closing of the project’s books


The Final Report- A Project History

• The final report is the history of the project

• It is a chronicle of the life and times of the project, a compendium of what went right and what went wrong

• The required information is contained in the master plan, all project audits, and evaluations

• The precise organization of the report is not of great concern; the content is

• Several Subjects should be addressed in the final report:

– Project performance

– Administrative performance

– Organizational structure

– Project and administrative teams

– Techniques of project management

• For each element covered in the final report, recommendations for changing current practice should be made and defended

• Equally important are comments and recommendations about those aspects of the project that worked unusually well

• The fundamental purpose of the final report is to improve future projects


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