There are copious reasons why a project might sink or start to take on water. Lack of commitment from top management or from the senior stakeholders is an obvious problem, and if you are running with the wrong or obsolete solution in your project, then you are the captain of a sinking ship. The sooner you evaluate your options and make the arduous decision to change course or terminate it altogether will determine your ultimate success as project manager. Your compass should direct the project to support the goals and objectives of the stakeholders.
Be a Vasco de Gama, not a Schettino. Abandonment is not an option; it will damage your reputation as a project manager and cost your stakeholders dearly. Discover your inner explorer and bring to light the possible avenues that will lead the project to a safe landing.
Repair vs. New vessel. Maybe whole sections need to be overhauled. This might mean any number of major parts to the project: suppliers, team members, scheduling, software, or execution. It may be costly initially, but over the long term, and if it is going to save money and deliver on the desired objectives for the project stakeholders, maybe turning to something new is the best option.
Maybe it’s time to fly instead of sail. Perhaps a new solution is needed to meet the project objectives. Sit with the stakeholders and clearly explain why the current approach will not work and the importance of adopting a new project vehicle. You can help your stakeholders re-orient their goals and choose the most suitable options that will not waste their money. You can even go ahead and assist them in defining the objectives of the new project approach. It can be your chance to shine, especially if you have helped your stakeholders save money.
Determine when to persist and when to disembark. If through your analysis you have determined any further money and time invested into the project will be a waste of time, discuss with your stakeholders your findings and determine how you can terminate the project at the earliest opportunity. Be sure to have some possible solutions. Working on a doomed project for too long is wasteful and demoralizing for everyone.