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6 strategies for cancelling a major IT project

John Brandon | Sept. 10, 2014
Sometimes it's better to walk away from an IT project, even a big one, than to fall further down the rabbit hole. These tips will help you cancel a project and keep your dignity (and reputation) intact.

Know Your Contract

Before ever cancelling an IT project, whether it's internal or external, make sure you read the fine print, says Dufour. Contracts spell out exactly what happens if you do cancel the project. There might be wind-down periods, terms governing how you can renew the contract and even a termination fee. Educate yourself on the contractual obligations. Then, do the hard work of involving legal counsel for the company if necessary and understanding the terms.

Learn From the Process

Flora says that terminating a project can be a learning experience. Executives should be cognizant of what to do on the next project. It might be a lesson about setting shorter terms goals for particular IT teams, setting expectations differently based on the customer and sponsor requirements, or setting up a budget and the project terms differently. When you cancel an IT project, see it as an opportunity to do things differently next time.

Be Specific About the Numbers

One last tip about cancelling IT projects: Make sure you're specific about the data. Too often, IT projects wind down quickly without adequate communication about the reasons and without who will be affected. Dufour says you should name the vendors involved, the timeline for cancellation, the costs and damages and the other impacted services. Specificity brings transparency, he says, which prevents "unwelcomed surprises" and the problems that accompany them.


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