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Have You Asked These Critical Questions About Your Project?
By Michelle Symonds
There are occasions when we all ask questions about the projects we are involved with. Sometimes they are as poignant as ‘what sort of a project manager do I want to be?’. Other times they can be as simple as ‘where did I put my diary?’. On unfortunate occasions the musing of ‘why did I get myself into this?’ might even float through our heads. However, none of these are any of the questions we really should be asking about our projects, but the following ones are.
- What is the objective?
The first and most critical question is the one we should all be able to answer before we embark on any project. Without knowing where we are trying to get to, how on earth can we suitably plan how to get there?
- Where am I?
Yes, I’m sorry, the weekend is over and you’re back at work. But that’s not what this question really means. In order to plan how to get where you’re going, you need to find out where you are right now. This means establishing scope, budget and timescales before any action takes place.
- How will we get there?
This is probably the longest question to answer of them all, as this is the point at which project planning, resource allocation and budgeting all takes place. You know the ingredients, you know what sort of cake you’ve got to make, now you need to figure out how to use them all to get to that delicious goal at the end of the road.
- How does this fit into the bigger picture?
Knowing where your project fits within other environments helps you and your project team to see the ‘point’. For instance, if you are designing a website for a customer, you need to know why they are redoing their site, what they hope to achieve with it and where they want to go in the future so that you can produce a solution that will meet all their needs.
- Who should be involved?
This is about identifying not only the right people to deliver the project, but also those who need to be involved in the project communications such as your stakeholders and funders. You can break these down into three types of people: Your drivers - those who will directly deliver the project, your supporters - those who will help the success of your project, and your observers - those who will be interested in your project. Once you’ve mapped them out, putting together a robust communications plan to satisfy everyone should be much easier.
- What can go wrong?
Ignoring those parts of the project which might fail or be compromised by things out of your control is a foolhardy action. Risk management is all about being brutally honest about what might occur, and then doing what you can to monitor and mitigate these risks.
Michelle Symonds is a qualified PRINCE2 Project Manager and believes that the right project management training can transform a good project manager into a great project manager and is essential for a successful outcome to any project.
There is a wide range of formal and informal training courses now available that include online learning and podcasts as well as more traditional classroom courses from organizations such as Parallel Project Training.