6 Questions to Ask When Starting a New Project

Project Planning: What Questions To Ask?

So you’re going to be the Project Manager for a new client. You want to be successful at it and in order to do that, you would want to plan your project well. This articles provides 6 questions to ask when starting a new project.

There are certain questions/areas that you can focus on right at the beginning to ensure you put forward a solid project plan. Treat these questions as a starting point. It is by no means an exhaustive list to plan your project.

1. What is the Objective of the Project?

What is the problem statement and what is the end goal that the project must accomplish? Are the requirements well defined? As rightly mentioned by HBR, having 100% requirements definition is unrealistic, but having at least 80% of the requirements at the beginning will help plan better.

2. What are the Key Milestones?

If the project is well-defined with documented requirements, do we know what are the key milestones and the dates for the same? These milestones can help plan better in terms of resource and budget requirements and also for determining if these are realistic or arbitrary.

3. Who are the Key Stakeholders?

Knowing your key stakeholders is critical for success. Stakeholder Management helps define the right level of engagement one needs to have with each. Look up Power Interest Grid and RACI charts.

4. What are the Critical Success Factors?

Just delivering the project on time may not be sufficient. There might be targets in terms of revenues and customer acquisition that one needs to meet within a certain timeline for the project to be deemed a success. Do we know what these are? These can help come up with the right level of strategy when delivering the project.

5. What are the key risks in executing the project?

No project can be executed without its associated risks. Having a good Risk Management Plan with lists these out along with its Mitigation Plans is important. Most software projects tend to do this just for the sake of meeting internal software quality compliance requirements. Doing this with the right mindset can help identify and mitigate important risk factors. Risk Assessment and Management is not a one-time activity that is done during the start. It needs to be done at regular intervals; at least once per milestone if not more often.

6. Who is doing the work?

Knowing if the team that is going to work on this project is experienced in the domain and technology is important. If they have done similar projects in the past, it can help plan better.


The above list of questions is by no means comprehensive. Treat it like a starting point to dig into further details to plan better. Do you look at specific areas when you plan for a new project? Do share your thoughts in the comments below.

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About the Author: Anuj Seth

Anuj is a certified PMP with over 20 years of Software Development and Management experience. He founded PM Tips in 2020. Contributors are welcome. Drop him a note via the Contact page.

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