Project Management

10 Questions to Ask before Starting a New Project

Assumptions are the icebergs that dot the path to shore in your project. If you do not seek clarity on them early, you might crash later. It is best to ask as many questions and get as many answers as possible before the project even begins. In an article at the Digital Project Manager, Joanna Leigh Simon shares 10 particular questions you should be sure to ask:

  1. What are we actually delivering?
  2. What are we not delivering?
  3. What is the deadline?
  4. What is the benchmark for success?
  5. Who is the real client?
  6. Who is the point of contact?
  7. Who is doing the work?
  8. Who is the audience for the work?
  9. Has this been done before?
  10. What might get in the way?

Collect the Facts

Projects typically deliver one major item, but successful delivery comes from delivering many smaller things well along the way. It is important to get clear on what the project will and will not deliver, to preempt scope creep and avoid rework. Such information is also necessary for hitting your deadlines. If you are given a vague deadline, that may or may not be ultimately a good thing. Again—seek clarity.

About having a benchmark for success, Simon offers this advice:

This is one of the most important project management questions to ask at the start of any project. A goal may seem straightforward, ex: build and launch a new website. But don’t be afraid to dig a little deeper. Ask your clients and stakeholders what they are really trying to achieve with this work. Do they want to gain more brand awareness? Ensure a successful product or program launch? Acquire more users? Increase revenue? Get your client to be open with you about why they are embarking on this project, and keep that goal at the forefront of your discussions. Knowing what success will really look like can help your team stay focused and make important decisions throughout the lifespan of the project.

Opinions may conflict on what matters most in a project. So in order to properly prioritize, figure out which stakeholders on your project are truly the most important. These are the people around whom you should be prioritizing project activities. But that being said, the actual deliverables of the project should be catered to help the product or service’s target audience. User satisfaction is often one of the greatest measures of project success.

Beyond that, it becomes a matter of getting the right people with the right skills to staff your project, and conducting proper risk management. And if you know this sort of project has been done before—in or out of your business—then take a look at how it was done. There is no need to reinvent the wheel if groundwork has already been laid. Make smart use of your time.

For further discussion on each of these questions, you can view the original article here:


John Friscia

John Friscia was the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success from 2015 through 2018. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and grew in every possible way in his time there. John graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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