Stop the Press!


The Project at the End of the Line


Reflections on the end of PM World Today,

Funerals and other projects at the end

of programs, projects and life



By David L. Pells

Addison, Texas



This is the final edition of PM World Today.  Following months of uncertainty, the board of directors determined in late 2011 that the organization should be terminated, the pmforum.org website shut down and publication of the monthly PM World Today stopped.  So this is it!  After 14 years of publication in some form, and five plus years of monthly production, this well-known global resource for continuous learning will end.

But perhaps this is not such a bad thing.  As the saying goes, and as Max Wideman reminds us in his letter to the editor this month, all good things must come to an end.  At the end of every program or project, there should be cause for celebration – of accomplishments, of growth and progress by people and organizations, and sometimes of just being successful or alive for so long.  This editorial is therefore to reflect on the end of this eJournal and of PMForum, with an emphasis on what has been accomplished over the last six years.

Over the last few months, as the end of these websites came into focus, I have been thinking a lot about how programs and projects end.  Sometimes they are terminated for unexpected reasons, at other times end according to plan.  But stopping a program or project is not as easy as it looks on paper, and often involves many serious and important activities.  In fact, I would argue that ending a project or program is a project in its own right, by nearly any definition.

And what if the end is not just of the program or project but of the underlying organization, which is often the case when a joint venture or specific legal entity has been formed for the sole purpose of completing the project?  Shut down activities can involve administrative, financial, legal, logistical, organizational and many other actions, all to achieve the shutdown project objectives.  The project can last many months, consume many resources, and require a great deal of management attention.

Finally, as I watched the memorial (funeral) for the late American singer Whitney Houston on 18 February 2012, [1] I was struck by what a big project that seemed to be.  Lasting four hours, with the participation of celebrities, family and friends, and with international media coverage, it was a grand production in honor of a truly beloved and talented artist.  And it occurred exactly one week after Ms. Houston’s death.  Absolutely amazing!  It was really fantastic, a fitting memorial to a very popular singer.  So who organized, planned and managed that “project”?  Aren’t all funerals projects?  And funerals for political leaders, famous personalities or important public figures can be enormous, involving hundreds of people and costing millions. It occurred to me that here is another type of important project that we must all consider one day in our families, whether for ourselves or other family members.

In the May 2011 edition of PM World Today, in my editorial entitled “The Royal Wedding – What a Project!”, [2] I discussed the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in the UK as a big project.  I went on to review weddings as projects, looking at various activities associated with planning and conducting weddings from a project management perspective.  Now I am suggesting that funerals should also be considered as projects, important personal projects that can be planned and managed with well-known PM concepts.  Perhaps this is insensitive, but perhaps this perspective can also ease someone’s burden for dealing with a personal loss.

So this month’s editorial is not only to reflect on the end of PM World Today and PMForum but to broaden this topic to project terminations, funerals and the “project at the end” of nearly anything – a life included.  After all, don’t all programs and projects have a life and a “life cycle” according to most definitions and textbooks?


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Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally published in the March 2012 edition of PM World Today. It is republished here with the author’s permission.

How to cite this paper: Pells, D. L. (2023). Stop the Press! The Project at the End of the Line: Reflections on the end of PM World Today, Funerals and other projects at the end of programs, projects and life; originally published in the March 2012 edition of PM World Today; republished in the PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue I, January. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/pmwj125-Jan2023-Pells-Stop-the-Press-project-at-the-end-of-the-line.pdf

About the Author

David L. Pells
Managing Editor, PMWJ
Managing Director, PMWL
Addison, Texas, USA


 David L. Pells, PMI Fellow, HonFAPM, ISIPM, PMA, is Managing Editor and publisher of the PM World Journalwww.pmworldjournal.com ) and Managing Director of the PM World Library ( www.pmworldlibrary.net ). David is an internationally recognized leader in the field of professional project management with more than 40 years of experience on a variety of programs and projects, including engineering, construction, energy, defense, transit, technology and nuclear security, and project sizes ranging from thousands to billions of dollars. He occasionally acts as project management advisor for U.S. national laboratories and international programs, and currently serves as an independent advisor for a major U.S. national security program.

David Pells has been an active professional leader in the United States since the 1980s, as founder and president of several PMI chapters, founder of PMI’s first SIG (Project Earth), and member of the PMI board of directors twice.  He was founder and chair of the Global Project Management Forum (1995-2000), an annual meeting of leaders of PM associations from around the world. David was awarded PMI’s Person of the Year award in 1998 and Fellow Award, PMI’s highest honor, in 1999. He is also an Honorary Fellow of the Association for Project Management (APM) in the UK; the Instituto Italiano di Project Management (ISIMP) in Italy; and Project Management Associates (PMA) in India.

Former managing editor of PM World Today, he is the creator, editor and publisher of the PM World Journal (ISSN: 2330-4880).  David has a BA in Business Administration from the University of Washington and an MBA from Idaho State University in the USA.  He has published widely and spoken at conferences and events worldwide.  David lives near Dallas, Texas and can be contacted at editor@pmworldjournal.com

To see other works by David Pells, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/david-l-pells/