Many types of projects involve prolonged engagements- client implementations, the building of large software systems, legacy migrations, the list goes on and on. Most of us have led or been involved in these types of projects. Many of us have been involved in projects that failed, were cancelled, or just needed to be killed before they got out of hand. So where was the exit strategy?
A risk to the company and stakeholders of every major project is how to exit out of the project in the event that it fails. This risk seldom makes it into project plans, though, because all of the project manager’s tasks are typically related to identifying and reconciling risks that might cause the project to end- in other words, to preventing an exit strategy from ever being used. So where does this fall?
I recommend that this should be worked into any PMO’s processes. The inability to gracefully shut down one project when it needs to be shut down is a huge risk to your overall portfolio and to the company itself. Most of the time, the plan may be very simple, but working with your sponsor and stakeholders to identify how to recognize when the project needs to be shut down and what the process is very sensible, holistic risk avoidance for all involved.