5 Reasons Why You Should Kill A Project and How To Do It Without Feeling Embarrassed

5 Reasons Why You Should Kill A Project

Did you know that the project failure rate was as high as 70% couple of years back? Thankfully, things have improved drastically since then and PMI latest report confirms it too. Despite all the improvements, we still face project failures although not that regularly as before, but it still happens. How you deal with the project failures will directly impact your overall business.

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” Charles R. Swindoll

Whether it is scope creep, poor team collaboration, lack of resources or lack of stakeholder involvement, your projects can fail due to all these reasons. No matter what the reasons behind project failure might be, one thing is for certain, it is not easy to kill a failed project. It is like a stain on your white shirt that never goes away even after multiple washes and continues to make your life miserable.

This article will give you five reasons why you should kill a project and show you how you can do it gracefully without feeling embarrassment. Read on and find out more.

1. Project Is Not Delivering Value Anymore

Let’s imagine you can not kill a project that is costing you more for any reason. What will be the alternative? You try to deliver more value to justify the additional cost incurred on the project, right. What if it is the other way around? You want your project to be completed inside the budget and you start to cutting down corners to keep the cost down. Even if you manage to complete the project within the specified budget, will it deliver the same value? If your project cannot deliver value, it is useless. It is as simple as that. You need to focus on value delivering when executing projects.

2. Project Is Costing You A Fortune

Cost is one of the most important constraints in project management triangle. In fact, completing projects inside the budget is one of the biggest challenges for project managers. There are instances when project costs are not estimated correctly or supplier increases its prices drastically or you need more staff to work on projects. Irrespective of what the situation might be, your project will exceed the budget.

Some businesses can even tolerate a slight deviation but if your project cost you a fortune, then you should seriously think about abandoning it. Sticking with a project that is costing you much more will only prolong the financial damage and as a business, you can not afford it. The best way to resolve this issue is to cut down extra expenses. If that does not work out, kill the project.

3. More Important Projects Waiting For Your Attention

With so many projects running simultaneously, it sometimes becomes extremely difficult to give due attention to every project. This is where prioritizing projects can help you. Pay extra attention to projects that have a larger impact on your overall business. Managing and diverting resources effectively is key to project management success. There is nothing wrong to shut down a less important project to divert all your energies towards a couple of important projects.

4. Change in Business Plan and Strategy

“The only thing that is constant is Change.” – Heraclitus

The pace at which business world evolves demands for a change in business plan and strategy. This is very important if want to tackle future challenges in a better way. The same holds true for project management. That is where change management comes into play. The better your project adjust to the changes, the more chances you have to complete them but what if it struggles to keep up with changing business strategy.

A project that does not align with your business objectives can never contribute towards your business success. Spending time and valuable resources on such projects is a waste, especially when you can divert them to other projects and get the best results out of them. It is better to scrap those projects that cannot keep up with the changing business strategy.

5. Poor Management and Monitoring

If you want to achieve project success then, you will have to control it from start to finish. Any lapse and poor project handling can cost you the project. Just like a project that exceeds budget, a poorly managed and monitored project comes back to haunt you. Don’t leave the project monitoring to the end as you might miss out on important details and factors contributing to project failure.

Although, task management software and tools have helped project managers in solving this issue to a certain degree but project managers will have to change their approach regarding project tracking to get better project results. If you have created more mess than you can handle due to poor project management, then it is better to ditch those projects and start over again with new projects. There is no point getting things straight when nothing is going to work.

How To kill a Project The Right Way

We have talked about the reasons for killing a project in detail. Let’s see how you can close failed projects gracefully. Here are some of the ways to kill the project without feeling embarrassed.

  • Assess what impact does killing a project have on the organization and its project stakeholders.
  • Avoid Blame game because it will only complicate things further for parties involved.
  • Convince project stakeholders that it is better to shut down the project than pursuing it based on the financial and human resource involved and benefits you are getting.
  • Suggest alternative ways to achieve the project goals and give positive suggestions for future improvements.


Knowing when to kill a project and how to kill it is important for a both the success of organization and project managers itself. Keep an eye out for the aforementioned warning signs and you can easily identify projects that need to be abandoned right away. Closing failed projects might not be the easiest thing to do but if you know how to kill it the right way, it won’t be a problem. Have you ever killed a failed project? If yes, then what were the reasons? What according to you is the right way to kill a failed project? Feel free to share your project management experiences in the comments section below.