Good-byes are hard. But spending time and resources on a project that ultimately won’t move the needle and drive the business forward? That’s no good either.

As such, CIOs must be able to recognize when an IT investment is failing and pull the plug, no matter how difficult it may be to do so. Read on for some key indicators that signal the end may be near:

  1. The Project Requires Constant Reexaminations and Revisions: Of course, any good project takes time to set up and get up to speed. But if things aren’t up and running within six months or a year, it might be time to rethink the project or scrap it entirely. Funding a project in increments can help CIOs determine whether it’s destined for long-term success, as this way it must hit initial milestones before it can move to the next stage.
  2. The Investment was Based on a Flawed Assumption: This pretty much speaks for itself. If a project was undertaken with a mistaken belief or otherwise incorrectly-made statement about its value, cost, benefit, or consequence, it’s not likely to be successful.
  3. The Project Has Veered Far Off-Course: While it’s possible for goals to shift slightly as a project gets up to speed, a significant deviation from the intended outcomes is cause for concern.
  4. Sponsor Support is Drying Up: If key sponsors begin to question the project or withdraw their support, there are likely some major underlying issues. Perhaps the initiative is no longer relevant to business goals. Or maybe the time and resource investments outweigh the project benefits. Whatever the case, if stakeholder support diminishes, CIOs should strongly consider abandoning the initiative.
  5. The Investment Fails to Generate Meaningful Business Results: A timely project that meets all anticipated technical goals does not necessarily mean the initiative is driving tangible business results. CIOs must remain forward-looking and always review projects for compelling, business-focused ROI. If this is difficult or impossible to spot, then it’s probably time to kill the investment.
  6. It’s Failed to Gain Significant End User Support: If a project’s target users have little or no interest in the initiative, it’s likely a resource drain that should be eliminated.
  7. The Investment is No Longer Needed: A project may avoid all of the red flags listed above but still ultimately be rendered useless by new business dynamics or technological innovations. As such, it’s a good practice to conduct a business case analysis on every investment to ensure it is continuing to deliver value and meet its intended goals.

Check out this CIO article for more on how to spot floundering IT projects in your organization.