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The Questions to Ask on Your New Project

A project manager wearing a paper bag on his head with a question mark on it.When you are handed a new project you are sure to have a head full of questions you want to ask. A lot of the answers will come to you over time but there are a few key ones you will want to ask before the project gets too far advanced.

Who Are the Stakeholders?

The project’s stakeholders are vitally important to the future of the piece of work. These are the people who have a big interest in the project and who will want to be involved in your work all the way through. One of your biggest priorities is to identify these stakeholders and get them on board and giving you ideas and feedback. It should theoretically be easy to locate them but there can sometimes by problems which make this a larger and more complex job than you might think. Once you have identified all of the relevant stakeholders you will feel a lot more confident about taking the project forward in the right direction. If you make contact with them early on then you can also set about building up a strong working relationship and look forward to carrying on with this as the work progresses.

What Other Relevant Projects Are Underway or Planned?

If there are a lot of other projects going on at the same you will want to take the others which affect you into account and mention them in your project documents. The problem is that if a lot is happening at the same time you might not get given a definitive list of the other pieces of work which might affect you. In fact, it could be that no one really knows what crossover with your project the other ones could have. This means that you are going to have to go through the rather painstaking process of checking out the details of other projects which are underway or planned and see what they are all about. This might seem like a bit of a tedious task but it is one which needs to be done. If you are new to the company then you will also find that it gives you a broader insight into the way they work and what else is going in it.

What Are the Objectives?

This is one point which might seem completely obvious but it is still worth investigating further. The details you are given might just say that you are to implement a system which is more efficient or a process which saves money. However, there are a lot of other factors to take into account before you start looking at solutions. In order to tie down the objectives more clearly you will need to ask questions about what exactly the end users need to be given. This probably going isn’t going to be as straightforward as I just made it sound but it is one of the most important parts of the whole project so you need to spend the necessary time on getting it right. If you correctly pin down the objectives then you will be well on your way to successfully completing the project, while if you don’t do this then it is going to be extremely difficult for you to deliver what it expected of you.

What Are the Risks and Issues?

Your boss and the stakeholders probably already know what a lot of the risks to the project are. This means that one of your first steps has to be to ask them to point them out to you. You need to start a risks and issues log as soon as possible and you won’t know right away what they all are. Some of these points won’t be very urgent and can left in the background but others will need your attention a lot earlier on in the project.  In any case, you won’t feel comfortable about taking the project forward until you know what risks and issues are out there. These details can come to you from any source and, in fact, you will probably find that you put together your risks and issues log by drawing together information which you receive from a number of different people. If you have worked on other projects in the past then you should be able to use some of the previous risks and issues, as there are some which crop up on a lot of different projects, especially when they are in the same firm.

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