Where Has Execution Gone Wrong?
The execution of a project usually begins once resources become available. But what if, just as a project is about to be launched, another project suddenly emerges that has higher strategic priority and requires the same resources - people, money, equipment and supplies? The concept of strategic alignment would dictate that the higher-priority project should take precedence while the lower priority one is put on hold or cancelled altogether if no longer relevant. Once again the key is to focus on the business case and the value the project brings to the organization.
Or, consider this scenario. As a project is about to be launched, a control gate review reveals the business case that provided the rationale for the project has changed or is in flux. Should this project not be put on hold or cancelled altogether? A third situation when a funded project should perhaps not be executed is when new management has just taken over a company and is changing its direction. Projects previously in line to be executed might have to wait until the new mission, vision and strategy have been clarified or cancelled altogether.
There is a phrase that is valuable to remember that is:
"Cancel early and cancel small!"
Unfortunately, many organizations do not recognize situations such as these and automatically move ahead with project execution just because resources are available. To be realistic, one of the most difficult things to do in an organization is cancel a project because doing so is often associated with failure. As a result, projects that should be cancelled or at least put on hold just keep going and going. They waste money, equipment, materials and personnel and generally suck the life out of an organization.
When it comes to project execution, the Project Ranking Tool can be very handy. For example, when a new project arises, it might be rated according to the tool's criteria in comparison with all other projects, whether in the implementation stage or not yet funded. Simply insert the new project's ranking and see where it falls. If it ranks higher than some of the projects that have already been funded, the portfolio management team has a decision to make. The options are to shut down another project and reallocate resources, outsource the project, obtain additional resources or wait until another project has been completed and resources are once again available.