~ By Michelle Symonds
One of the many skills required of a project manager is the ability to ask searching questions and persevere until a clear answer is obtained. Many of the pitfalls in projects could be avoided if questions were articulated fully and if the answers were given clearly and in detail.
Too often areas of a project that should be clearly defined are not. Assumptions are made about who is responsible for what and, even worse; assumptions are made about what exactly the business objectives are and what benefits the project will deliver to the organisation.
In our enthusiasm to get started on an exciting new project, it is easy for everyone, not just the project manager, to rush through the early preparation stages of a project and get on to the exciting parts. But in uncertain economic times every project should be delivering substantial business benefits that can be accurately measured. The benefits might be time or cost savings, but equally they might be aimed at maintaining a certain reputation (or rescuing a failing one), so they are not always easy to measure and cannot always be accurately predicted in advance. Nevertheless, the expected benefits should be documented, so it is clear to everyone involved why the project is needed.
No list of questions is ever exhaustive, but here are 20 questions a project manager should always ask, whatever type of project they are working on in any type of organisation:
There are many more questions that could be asked to ensure a project starts off with a good chance of success. But just as important as asking a question is getting a proper answer. The majority of people will have received appropriate training for project managers to help them develop a series of questions that is most relevant for their business. Those new to project management can benefit from knowledge-based training such as APM IC or one of the PMP credentials