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One year ago me and several other people were assigned to work on a small project (as an addition to our main responsibilities). We did some work, spent a lot of time waiting for third parties, and at the moment we have the following situation:

  • One third party company that we hired isn't replying to our emails for already several months (we haven't paid them yet, so it's not a big problem).
  • Some team members left the company or got different positions.
  • The person who was supervising the project left the company.
  • We never receive any emails from the management asking for the status, I believe they remember about the project only when we actively remind them.
  • Nobody in the team is really working on it, we only write follow-up emails to that third party company once a few weeks. We don't really hope to get a reply anymore, it's mostly to not feel bad about not doing anything.
  • At this stage it's clear that the project will bring no benefit to the company.

How should I handle this? I asked my manager for an advice and he recommended to just stop doing it and stop reminding people about that. (My manager has nothing to do with the project, it's supposed to be supervised by people from a different team. So it was just an advice.)

I'd feel uncomfortable to just stop working on the project without notifying anyone, but I can't think of a professional way to say "Hi, we are quitting working on the project A since it doesn't make any sense anymore and we all have better stuff to do".

Upd: All answers are good so far, but I think my question wasn't precise enough. I want my actions to lead to the project being cancelled, I don't really want to proceed working on it as it would be a waste of time and money.

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  • Who is that people from different team? Can you contact them? What have they said about the project so far?
    – DarkCygnus
    Mar 10 '20 at 20:07
  • I can contact them, but I don't know what to tell them. So far we only informed them about that company not responding for months and got a reply saying something like "just try to message them again". It doesn't look like they really care. Mar 10 '20 at 20:11
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    This person is looking for you..
    – Alex M
    Mar 11 '20 at 0:28
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    "How should I handle this? I asked my manager for an advice and he recommended ..." <- this. Do what your manager said. Mar 11 '20 at 6:46
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    Is it possible that the third-party team you hired isn't responding to you because you haven't paid them?
    – shoover
    Mar 11 '20 at 20:07
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While following your managers suggestion and simply halting all work on the project does sound like a reasonable option, in your situation I would seek to formally extricate myself from the project. This could lead to the project being formally shut down, or potentially revive it, but without your involvement.

Do this with a straightforward email that explains why you feel the project is dead/deserves to die. Send it to whoever is theoretically "in charge" as well as the other team members who are working on the project and any other managers/stakeholders/future users etc.

If somebody wants to jump in and keep the project alive it will fall on them to champion it and get it moving again, hopefully without you.

Hello All,

With regards to project XYZ initially commenced in January 2019 by Ms. ManagerWhoLeft. Please be aware progress has been stalled for some time [optionally include some reasons] and the benefits of completing this particular project are no longer apparent [optionally include some reasons]. I am now in role ABC and will no longer be involved in leading/working on this project, and from my perspective it seems like this should be abandoned altogether.

Certainly feel free to let me know your thoughts on this.

Thank you, lawful_neutral

The idea here is to have a written record that you are off of this project and that nothing is happening under your watch. This leaves you free and clear, without the possibility of getting an email in a years time asking you why this was never finished.

If someone wants to push back and re-engage you on the project, they will have to make some kind of case for it and put in some effort to get it going again.

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How should I handle this? I asked my manager for an advice and he recommended to just stop doing it and stop reminding people about that.

You already did the right move here and asked your manager, and you got an answer.

I'd feel uncomfortable to just stop working on the project without notifying anyone

You already notified your manager, and also asked him for guidance on what to do. There is no need to feel uncomfortable.

Perhaps you are feeling that way because of the "lost" time and effort you put on this project. It's not the best feeling, I know, but this can happen now and then with any kind of project. Better to focus on the ones that can be achieved or completed.


You mentioned in comments that:

So far we only informed them about that company not responding for months and got a reply saying something like "just try to message them again".

Once again, you already asked the ones in charge of the project and got your answer: message them again, try to get a reply.

Seems to me that it's pretty easy how to handle both your boss's and the team's feedback: keep trying to get a response from them, but in the meantime don't stall and wait with arms crossed, and continue working on other projects your manager assigned to you.

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  • My manager isn't the one supervising the project, I forgot to add this important detail to the post. So it was really just an advice. Mar 10 '20 at 20:04
  • And who is? Please include that detail on your question. Surely someone was assigned as interim supervisor of that project.
    – DarkCygnus
    Mar 10 '20 at 20:05
  • I updated the post. There is a person who is supposed to replace that guy who left the company, but I don't know him well, so I can't just explicitly tell him everything that I said to my manager. Mar 10 '20 at 20:07
  • Thanks for the update. I find your answer good, although following the advice might lead to exactly the opposite to what I want to achieve. I just want the project to end, there is almost nobody left to work on it, nobody expects the results and it doesn't make any sense to continue. I just don't know how to communicate it and if I should communicate it at all. Mar 10 '20 at 20:41
  • @lawful_neutral don't take me wrong, but...given that you are not in charge of the project, it's not your role to determine when the project ends (even though you may be tired of it and see it going nowhere)... that should fall to the ones in charge of the project. Chances are they have reasons why they haven't cancelled the project already.
    – DarkCygnus
    Mar 10 '20 at 20:44
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it's supposed to be supervised by people from a different team.

Pass the issue to these people, it's their responsibility, not yours. If they tell you to keep contacting, ask them to contact the third party direct as you have had no answer. They're not your manager, they can't order you without going through your manager.

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  • Would you just approach them and describe the situation like I did in the question? Mar 10 '20 at 20:34
  • No I wouldn't, I'd just forward the emails requesting information from the third party and let them know they'll need to contact direct as I'm not getting answers. And to please let me know when the issue is resolved. I'd cc my manager so everyones in the loop.
    – Kilisi
    Mar 10 '20 at 20:36

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