How to help/guide your team when the project/product is put on hold?

Last post 09:19 am August 19, 2019
by Thomas Owens
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06:32 pm August 18, 2019

Hi everyone, a new scenario for me!
Our team's project has been put on hold and the final executive decision (continue or wrap it up) is taking more time than expected. The team has wokred together to defined when is best to stop in the development and the product owner has created a backlog accordingly that will last us up to 2 weeks (1 sprint for us); the final decision might take more than 4 weeks. 
After talking with the team we have decided to have a planning as usual at the end of our next sprint and see if we can focus on CPD as the development team feels they could improve in key areas. After that I am a bit out of ideas in all honesty...

Has this already happen to some of you? and if so, how did you deal with it / guide the team through this period? 

My main concern is that development will stop at the end of our sprint and the rest is a big unknown for all (project, product, and delivery teams).

Thank you ! 

06:38 am August 19, 2019

Why is the decision to continue or wrap things up outside of the Scrum Team's control, specifically that of the Product Owner?

09:19 am August 19, 2019

Our team's project has been put on hold and the final executive decision (continue or wrap it up) is taking more time than expected.

What does "on hold" mean for your organization?

In my experiences, when a project or product line is on hold, there's no more funding for it, effectively immediately. Product and project managers are typically aware of the fact that a hold is coming in advance of it happening. Once the funding supply reaches 0, work stops and people move on to other things - perhaps the whole team moves on or perhaps the team is broken up.

the product owner has created a backlog accordingly that will last us up to 2 weeks (1 sprint for us); the final decision might take more than 4 weeks.

If the project is on hold, are stakeholders going to be accepting any more delivers and offering feedback? If not, does it make sense to do any more work? Or does it make sense to wrap up in-progress work, ideally with no significant changes that could harm stakeholder satisfaction? Or does it make more sense to pause work entirely because you can no longer get stakeholder participation 

After that I am a bit out of ideas in all honesty...

As I've mentioned, it depends on what on hold means and the likelihood of the project resuming. Normally, I'd expect this condition to not be a surprise to the Product Owner, and therefore the Scrum Team, and work can be planned to end normally with a final decision.