Should You Close Down A Non-Performing Project?

Filed under Best Practices | Posted by PMStudent

You take on a project.

You plan and assign all tasks to the relevant teams.

You monitor project resources and budget – everything is perfect.

But, still, in the end, you hear the three words that every project manager dreads –

“The project failed”.


Let’s come to that part in a while.

Did you know that only 2.5% of companies manage to complete all their projects successfully.

Now, imagine this scenario where the project itself is not performing. What will you do in such a situation? Would a project management software help in this situation?

It is a well-known fact that not all projects are meant to succeed. But, how:

  • To know if your project struggle is something that you can overcome?
  • To realize if a poorly performing project still has room for improvements?

…and what are the clear signs it’s high time you closed down your non-performing projects?
This is exactly what we are going to cover in this article.

Let’s figure out if you should give up on an underperforming project or is there something that you still can do to turn it into your business trump card.

Why Do Projects Fail?

There are some clear signs that a project won’t bring positive results. Some of them are related to project planning or the implementation of the project management system, but it is really difficult to pinpoint one reason why projects fail.

Let’s talk about the two most common reasons for project failure.

Inadequate Project Planning

When it comes to project planning, there are two main causes of failure:

  1. Unrealistic plan
  2. Inadequate Project Execution

But, why does this happen?

It could be because you:

  • were not taking the plan seriously or
  • you may be using a project management software that doesn’t work for you

On the one hand, as your team works on a project, business teams realize that some small changes may improve the final results.

However, on the other hand, if a team gets in a tough spot in which they cannot track the project progress due to the changes they’ve introduced, chances are a project has reached a dead end. You may end up exceeding the budget and missing the deadlines, all of which makes it really hard for a business to overcome the difficulties and run the project successfully.

Human Resources Issues

Apart from major planning issues, what makes projects fail is the human factor. Statistically speaking, poor communication is the main reason why 75% of projects fail.

In the first place, it may provoke motivational issues on a daily basis. And if there’s no motivation, projects experience productivity decrease which then causes delays and low-quality outcome.

Accordingly, if there’s no way of improving communication system and motivating the staff, it’s pretty likely that the project won’t provide the expected results.

Moreover, it may have a strong negative impact on your business, which is why you should consider closing it before it makes unnecessary damage.

The more time the project team spends without achieving satisfying results, the more effort it will take for the project to start performing the right way. So, generally speaking, if you realize a project is underperforming at an early stage, you still have a chance of working things out.

So, if you’re capable of discovering critical aspects in the initial phases, you can significantly improve the performance and get your project on the right path.

And why you should try to fix a project instead of closing it?

Well, it’s pretty simple: as long as the costs of fixing the project are lower than the expense that you may cause closing it, it’s absolutely worth trying.

So, now comes the million dollar question:

How Does One Turn Around A Non-Performing Project?

1. Remember the Project Purpose

Sometimes, businesses get stuck focusing on daily operational activities, forgetting about the main project goal. And this is what may lead to negative results.

Therefore, you should make sure that both the project manager and team members remain focused on the big picture and keep effectively contributing to it. It’s highly important to train employees in a way that makes them repeatedly ask themselves if their actions are contributing to the projects’ main purpose.

2. Improve Your Project Management System

If you realize your project is failing due to poor project planning or inefficient progress tracking, you may need to introduce a standardized project management software. This way, you’d provide your business with consistent tools and templates that can both save your time and improve the activity monitoring.

There are a number of robust project management software that include a diversity of features that streamlines workflow and provides seamless team collaboration.

For instance, ProProfs Project is a project management software that offers multiple features that make it easier for you to:

  • Track work progress
  • Collaborate with team members
  • Plan projects using shared calendar
  • share files with teams easily

…and a lot more!

3. Motivate Team Members

To make sure you meet project deadlines, it is important to motivate your team members to improve their performance. But, how do you do that? It’s quite simple, really…

  1. Make sure you train them properly and equip them with the right tools to implement project activities. You can also organize seminars, workshops and simulation exercises.
  2. Develop a healthy business communication among coworkers and create a pleasant ambiance for their interaction. In other words, don’t forget how powerful a team building can be for performance improvement.
  3. Provide realistic and clear goals not only for the entire team but also for every team member. This way, you will let them know their responsibilities and avoid their not taking responsibility.

So, Should You Close Down Non-Performing Project?

One word – NO!

As you can see, not all underperforming and non-performing projects are doomed to closing down. Having in mind that project closure may provoke major losses, as long as project improvement requires lower costs, it’s worth trying.

So, before making a final decision, it is important to consider all the critical aspects and make an estimation of the expenses.

As a general rule, the sooner you realize all the problematic areas, the more space you have to deal with them. Commonly, project performance can be improved by motivating employees, making a healthy professional bond between them, and introducing a project management software that fits the business and project nature.

Finally, what’s of utmost importance for every project’s destiny is the project plan, that should be realistic and defined as precisely as possible. Accordingly, if you don’t want to close down your project and give it a second chance, you should think about redefining your project plan and adjusting it to your actual capacities.

Contributed by David Miller

David is a technical writer from, his works are regularly published in various papers and top-notch portals. His rich experience in project management software helps him offer latest and fresh perspective on improved efficiency in workflows across organizations. His informative works on similar lines can be viewed on ProProfs Project.