4 strategies for getting an IT project out of limbo

Ever had a project ready to go but no go ahead from leaders? Here’s an interesting article about how to handle such situations.


Original article by: Brad Egeland (Twitter @begeland) at CIO.com.

“Projects are meant to be executed on. Yet, for some reason, many projects remain in limbo – never executed on even with all resources and funding in place just because someone can’t pull the trigger.


I can be a hoarder at times. I have collectible items that I’ve moved from house to house and they are taking up valuable storage space right now. In fact, our family had accumulated so much “stuff” over the years that it took me three full months after we had moved into our current house to actually end our tenure in our previous house…it took that long to finish on off the throw away and packing process and be done with it.

Projects can go through similar issues. Project sponsors and organizations can have everything in place, resources at the ready, the proper knowledge and budget ready, and then sit on it for a long, long time. I’m not really talking about the “paralysis of analysis”, though that can be a culprit, too. It’s more about a mental issue of just not being able to pull the trigger.

Not being able to throw out that old concert t-shirt you got 30 years ago that is 3 sizes too small now. I have friends who are spending thousands of dollars on their house to add storage rooms to store their junk because they can never throw anything out. The same goes for renting storage units by the month. You tell yourself it will buy you time to systematically decide what to save and what to toss. Then you find yourself five years later having spent thousands on a storage unit that you never visited and it’s housing boxes that you may never open again.

Projects are meant to be executed on. As a consultant, I see it all the time. Customers have everything in place including a favorable estimate or price from me to get started tomorrow or whenever they want and they just can’t do it. Hiring organizations that can’t make hiring decisions Have you ever had that one happen? I have.

One time an organization couldn’t make a decision because they were convinced that since I was a consultant that I would not stay long. So I just remained this finalist in limbo for a position that was never filled (the funny thing is they ended up spending four times more per hour to hire me for some consulting instead of hiring me as a W2….guess I can call that a win for me).

Change or react?

How do you change these customer or consulting client behaviors? You don’t really. They will likely never change. Whatever is causing them to not be able to let go of the past insecurities and the future anxieties is still there and will be there. What you can do is show that you are ready to go right now with them. Four things are key for that to happen.

  1. Tell them you are committed to them. Let them know that you aren’t going anywhere. Point to your long-term relationships with other clients – show them something concrete they can touch and see. Discuss plans for the project like you are mentally moving forward on the project for them. Sometimes that is the push they need and sometimes that still won’t work. But it is my first go-to when trying to jumpstart a project or consulting decision. Start talking about next steps – the more they see that you have a plan even when they can’t wrap their heads around it is sometimes the push they need to pull the trigger on the project or consulting initiative.
  2. Give them your best possible price and tell them so. By doing this you eliminate price as a known issue…or at least a presumed issue. If it’s a consulting situation, tell them you really want to add them as a client and to do so you are giving them your absolute best price. And be detailed in your proposal. Tell the how many hours you are assuming they will need of your time.


  1. Tell them you are flexible. Let the project client know that you are dedicated to making this work for them. They obviously need hand holding to get started so the best thing you can do is to show that you are available right now and flexible enough to tweak your services to their needs under the current agreement if their needs should change in week No. 2. Point to long term clients you’ve had so they understand that you are in it for the long haul and won’t bail on them quickly if something better comes along.
  2. Offer them a long-term arrangement at a discount. They aren’t likely to take you up on this till you have a few months under your belt with them, but letting them know that this is an option you want to present to them and you are offering a discount to do so tells them you are committed to working with them. It may help them move forward and it may not, but this offer helps to take you out of the equation of any cause for them to be hesitating.


These clients that are hoarding projects and can’t move forward for whatever reason are frustrating. Staff is ready. Plans are in place. Budgets are usually approved. Yet they can’t make hiring decisions or project kickoff moves for whatever reason. They are essentially hoarding initiatives because they lack whatever it takes to pull the trigger.”

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