The most important question(s) to ask before starting a project

 

Before you say 'I do' as a project manager to a new project assignment it is best to ask a simple but very important question.

WHY?

You need to ask the project sponsor what the business justification of the project is. Does it make sense? You really need to consider saying 'NO' if the project sponsor can not make clear what the business justification is. If the why does not make sense the likely hood of achieving success is greatly reduced. The reason being that a lot, if not most, of the people you'll have to work with during the project will know/sense that and as result will will be less motivated to work on the project. Who wants to be associated with silly projects?

In the wake of the big WHY question follows a set of equally important question:

 

What?

What is the expected project output? What are you to produce? Has that been done before? Again, does it make sense in relation to the why answer? The diagram below can help you ask some of these more complex questions. Does the expected project output lead to the Strategic Objectives as discovered when asking the big WHY question? In  other words what is the relation between project output, outcome and benefits?

Output-Objectives-Benefits

 

How?

How will the project output be realized?

How experienced/mature is the organization in its project management approach

When?

When does the project output need to be ready?

When do the project objectives need to be achieved (Not the same as above!)

Who?

Who will you be working with?

Who is the User?

Who is the Supplier

Who pays the bills?

Who will be accepting the project outputs

Why again?