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There is a project (Project A) which is possibly being put on hold because resources are being diverted to another project that has potential for impressive revenue gains. The project sponsors, as well as the PM, both want to revisit Project A and bring it to a successful close, but they want to do this after the new opportunity is seized.

Putting Project A on hold may affect certain stakeholders who have an interest in this project. Some of the stakeholders are clients who aren't paying for the project but who know they directly benefit from the completion of Project A and who became clients because they knew Project A was in progress.

What are the steps that a PM should take when putting a project on hold for more than three months to an indefinite amount of time?

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Conduct a risks and issues exercise that are sequel to the project hold. Do a thorough job with this so all impacted stakeholder groups understand what their threats and impacts are.

Notify all effected stakeholder groups, including team resources, subcontractors, vendors, and external folks. Include in the communication what you are doing, why, the risks and issues caused by the work stoppage, recommended mitigation and contingencies, and future plan.

Verify and validate all completed scope and have the sponsor formally sign off on it. Verify and validate all scope that is work in progress and dispose of these in some way, i.e., store, protect, discard, whatever.

Reconcile all financial matters. Ensure all lagging cost claims are identified, accrued, and ledgered. Ensure all payments to and from are made.

Formally close the performance measurement baseline and capture all variances accrued to date and remaining performance dollars as that has to be reconciled when the PMB is re-established.

Review all existing agreements to ensure the T&Cs of each secondary to a work stoppage are met in full.

Conduct a post mortem and document.

Send everyone "home."

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There are some basic steps here:

  1. Get the other projects timeline and create an exception plan to the current plan that you have .Get the risk log and pad those in the time line from Project B.
  2. Get the Project A's stakeholders (internal and external) approval of the exception plan, listing the impacts of the project - this should take a couple of meetings to get the executive, senior user and senior supplier agreeing to the same thing.
  3. Now you should be ready to put the project on hold. One thing that you should be doing is setting a recurring status check on the other project, to see if the exception plan that you put in place will actually work in order to mitigate any risk and inform Project A's stakeholders.
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