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4 Questions New Project Managers Should Ask on Every Project

Context is everything, and knowledge is power. Thus, new project managers who want to be certain that they are starting their projects on the right foot need to ask some pointed questions. In a post at her blog, project leadership coach Susanne Madsen shares four questions managers should ask:

  1. Why is this project important?
  2. Who can help us move the project forward?
  3. How can we create a collaborative milestone plan?
  4. Which controls will we use to track the project?

Armed with Knowledge

Surely the project is important, or else it never would have been green-lit (we hope). The business case for its value might not be crystal clear to everyone involved yet though. The project manager should find that clarity. Specifically, the manager should have the courage to politely ask how the business and end-users will benefit short-term, midterm, and long-term from the project’s execution. Then there will be no lingering uncertainty about the project’s value.

Change does not happen in a vacuum, so the project manager must also determine which people are best positioned to help the project succeed. Likewise, managers should talk to stakeholders about how they would like to receive status updates. Stakeholders who are kept informed can provide valuable assistance to the project.

About the third question, Madsen explains that it is a mistake for a project manager to feel obligated to do all the planning by him or herself. Collaborative milestone planning could be more effective:

The way to do it is to gather the core project team and to bring a pile of sticky notes, flip chart paper and marker pens. The [first]step is then to brainstorm everything that needs to get done on the project – capturing one task per post-it note. When the team has finished the brainstorm, consolidate the sticky notes into 12-15 milestones. You then sequence the milestones on a timeline that flows from left to right where you consider the dependencies between each milestone. Finish off by assigning one owner to each milestone so that everyone is in agreement about who does what.

Lastly, in addition to milestones, project managers will want to make deft use of control documents for monitoring. These include things like a project charter, a risk register, and a requirements traceability matrix. When these elements and the others above are set in place, project managers will begin their projects from a place of strength.

You can view the original post here: http://www.susannemadsen.co.uk/blog/4-basic-questions-new-pms-must-ask-on-any-project

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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