Decision-aiding models for the closure decision fall into three generic categories. First, there are models that base the decision on the degree to which the project qualifies against a set of factors generally held to be associated with successful (or failed) projects. Second, there are models that base the decision on the degree to which the project meets the goals and objectives set for it. Third, there are projects that have fallen far enough behind their schedules and planned progress that the cost to complete them is no longer justifiable. However, Kumar et al. 1996 noted that these project selection models are not appropriate for the project closure decision. The argument is that the data requirements for selection models are too large and costly. They also argue that the evaluation factors in project selection models may change as projects are evaluated at different stages in their life cycles. Based on the position that sunk costs are not relevant to current investment decisions, the primary criterion for project continuance or closure is whether or not the organization is willing to invest the estimated time and cost required to complete the project, given the project’s current status and current expected outcome.
Here are questions outlining factors that lead a PM to understand whether or not to close it:
Is the project still consistent with organizational goals? Is it practical? Useful?
Is the scope of the project consistent with the organization’s financial strength?
Is the project consistent a balanced program in all areas of the organization’s technical interests? In age? In cost? Is organization project support being spread too thin?
Is support of this individual project sufficient for success?
Does this project represent too great an advance over current technology?
Is the project team still innovative or has it gone stale?
Can the new knowledge be protected by patent, copyright, or trade secret?
Could the project be farmed out without loss of quality?
Is the current project team qualified to continue the project?
Does the organization have the required skills to achieve full implementation of the project?
Has the subject area of the project already been “thoroughly plowed”?
Has the project lost its key person or champion?
Is the project team and management enthusiastic about the project to support its implementation?
Can the potential results be purchased or subcontracted more efficiently than in-house?
Does it seem likely that the project will achieve the minimum goals set for it?
Has the project been obviated by technical advances or new products/services elsewhere?
Is the output of the product still cost-effective? Has its risk level changed significantly?
Do we support the project if it were proposed today at the time & cost required to complete it?
Are there better alternative uses for the funds, time, and personnel devoted to the project?
Has a change in the environment altered the need for the project’s output?
Kumar, V., A. N. S. Persaud, and U. Kumar. 1996. “To Terminate or Not— An Ongoing R&D Project: A Managerial-Dilemma.” IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management.
Meredith, Jack R., Scott M. Shafer, and Samuel J. Mantel. Project Management: A Strategic Managerial Approach. 10th ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2018.