Uncertain times are causingÂ fear, panic and commitment issues on projects. The temptation is for Project Sponsors to tell Project Managers to stop what theyâre doingâ¦ âfor nowââ¦ until things settle down. The problem is there is no PAUSE button in project management. Either projects are continuing or they are closing. Itâs called a âGo/No Goâ decision for a reason. Projects cannot be put âon holdâ, indefinitely. Either it makes sense in continuing to invest in the project or it doesnât.
Reason 1: Momentum.
The team are in the middle of building something. There are drafts upon drafts of things and at the moment. In the current flow, it all makes sense. Itâs fresh in everyoneâs mind how this all fits together and what the next steps are. As soon as you hit PAUSE, the flow is gone and the short-term memory disappears right along with it. When you eventually hit PLAY again, itâs murky, itâs unclear and itâs going to require steep re-learning curve to figure out whatâs what, at what state was it last left in and what still needs to be done â even with meticulous notes/documentation. On top of which you are not guaranteed by the time you hit PLAY again that youâll even be working with the same team who was working on it previously â up the angle of that learning curve!
Reason 2: Suppliers.
Some suppliers may be willing to accommodate your PAUSE response, if promises are made that it definitely will be picked up again. However, the gamble here is that you will be a priority when youâre ready to hit PLAY again. They may have other clients who didnât panic and are more stable and thus higher on the food chain than you.
Thatâs all assuming you even can hit PAUSE with your suppliers. Some contracts youâre involved with may not allow for uncertain and undefined delays. If you PAUSE, they will continue and you will still need to pay, or pay a hefty penalty fee.
Reason 3: The future.
All future is uncertain. It has not happened yet. So really the perception of an how much uncertainty there is, is just a belief, a feeling, a judgement. You may never feel like the future is getting any more certain as time passes. Thatâs thing with the future, there is no guarantee. Now that youâve hit PAUSE, you have a whole bunch of half built things just sitting around and taking up space. These things donât totally work yet, but are too valuable to throw away. They are also reminding everyone who can see them that the current outlook is (perceived to be) not good, so anxiety and uneasiness remains high. Which could be self-fulfilling to never hit PLAY againâ¦
Use facts to determine viability, not gut feelings or moods â they can change with the wind. If itâs not feasible based on the evidence, the choice is to close the project down. Clearly document the position and states of all deliverables. Correctly file, store and archive any approved work and hand over any usable deliverables to the users/business. Now, if you ever return to this project idea in the future (because in the future it is viable to return to it), you have an excellent starting point, instead of a complicated, ambiguous mess of incomplete, incoherent drafts of undistinguishable things that were left abandoned for an indeterminate amount of timeâ¦