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Our Dichotomous Relationship With Projects

Projects Sign | PS Principles


Something I find interesting as a service company owner is the love-hate relationship we tend to develop with projects. Every day we accelerate towards the new deal because we are hungry for more. We are constantly striving to either feed "the Beast" (ensure that we have backlog that we can turn into revenue) or to grow it!


At the same time, we spend a good portion of our day dealing with the ugly side of the projects we have won. The escalations, the annoyed customers and the burned out consultants are all a part of processing the backlog into revenue. More importantly, we must also ensure that projects do not live beyond their intended lifespan. If a project isn't generating profit, then it is a burden that is potentially robbing our resources of the ability to be working on profitable projects. 


The combination of this critical need to start and finish projects creates a dichotomous relationship that has a business-threatening need to achieve both. If we don't win deals, we die. If don't learn to get rid of them they no longer serve their purpose and we will also die.


What do we do with this? My answer is, bring it to work with you! Use it as a way to establish your attitude and approach to things at work. If you see a project wondering through the hallways or find one hiding in a corner, put it out of its misery. It's a project, not a person, it shouldn't be there unless it is meant to. Tell the customer you are shutting the books on this one and see what they say. Maybe it will jolt them into action, maybe (as we have seen commonly) they just don't care because they also have lost interest in it. 


If your company has a fixed price or time and materials project that is never going to be successful, wouldn't you want to know that now rather than continue to have it take up valuable space in your workload for eternity?

Related Readings

Are "On Hold" Projects Killing You?

A Project's Success Is Not Defined By Time Or Budget

Rethinking Project Governance (and the PMO)

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