What are the first three questions you ask?

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You're staring a new project - as a project manager or consultant. What are the first three things you ask of your project client? They may differ based on how the project came to you because in some organizations some things are already known...what the cost is, is the project fully funded, etc. But let's assume it's wide open. What do you want to know first...even if it doesn't seem necessarily appropriate to ask?

For me, here's my 3:
  1. Do you have the budget in place for this project?
  2. Are there any things you see as obstacles in your organization to getting this project completed?
  3. What are the first three things of highest priority to get completed and functional on this engagement?
Please share yours...

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Hi Brad,

These are my three questions to ask at the start of any project:
  1. What are your requirements?
  2. What is your deadline date and what is driving it?
  3. What top-level management support do you have for this project?
I always ask the customer about their requirements early on to get a feel for the project. I like to draw out any unstated assumptions or hidden needs. People often assume you know more than you do about their project. Requirements are like icebergs; there's the bit above the water you can see, (what the customer asks for) and the bit below the water you cannot see, (the customer's assumptions about what will be delivered that they have not told you).

I like to know whether the deadline date is tied to an event, and if so, what event. Sometimes deadlines are plucked from the air and have nothing driving them, other times they are tied to real events. Understanding what is driving the deadline date is crucial if you are going to make a success of the project.

I believe most projects succeed or fail on support and commitment of top-level management. I am very reluctant to take on projects that don't have this level of support, so finding out who is supporting the project is important.

Any other thoughts?

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Joined: Thu 08 Dec 2011 1:34 pm

Good post Brad, thought provoking.

I like Duncan's number 2 choice and Brad's number 3 choice.

I would also add:

- Who are the key stakeholders for this project and what is their interest in the project?
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