The Dirty Half-Dozen

The Dirty Half-Dozen

Know When to Fold 'Em

Disengaging from an IT project gone bad is similarly valuable - and thankless HOLLYWOOD SELDOM MAKES movies about them, but orderly retreats are revered by military men, who understand their difficulty and importance to the wider campaign. Disengaging from an IT project gone bad is similarly valuable - and thankless.

Loathsome though it may be, the best time to figure out what you'll do in a worst-case scenario is when you're planning the project itself. To ensure against runaway IT programs that acquire a life of their own, Mark Keil, an associate professor of computer information systems at Georgia State University in Atlanta, suggests thinking through the following antimilestones:

Define de-escalation trigger points. If cost or schedule overruns approach the triggers, hold a formal meeting to suggest alternate plans.

Define termination conditions. Define in advance the point at which you're throwing good money after bad. "Sure, it's a hard sell, but consider the alternative," Keil says.

Agree on an outsider. Whether an auditing company, a consultant or an academic, discuss on whom you'll call for an unbiased assessment should any of these unpleasant possibilities arise.

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