Questions Every Project Manager Should Ask to Ensure Project Success

Questions Every Project Manager Should Ask to Ensure Project Success

Questions Every Project Manager Should Ask to Ensure Project Success

What are the questions every project manager should ask for effective project management?

As they say, it is a critical skill for sales people to navigate stakeholders and identify the decision makers, users, influencer, gate-keepers, etc, similarly it is important for project manager to keep asking right questions and be persistent in asking these questions until s/he gets clear answers. Experienced and smart project managers know it well that, project setbacks, potential failure can be avoided if there are clear and satisfactory answers to the right questions they have asked.

Plenty of times we kick off project without clearly knowing or verifying assumptions, limitations, expected benefits with delivery of a given project. In most cases, we are so much excited and so much eager to kick-off the project and start working on it. And we don’t realize the in this rush we are not ensuring whether business benefits will be delivered as desired. How does project management ensure that?

5 Basic Phases of Project Management

As we know, based on PMBoK(R), there are 5 basic phases of project management

  1. Project Management: Intiation Phase
  2. Project Management: Planning Phase
  3. Project Management: Execution Phase
  4. Project Management: Controlling Phase
  5. Project Management: Closing Phase

For every phase of project management, like project initialization phase, project planning phase, project execution phase, project controlling phase and project closure phase, every project manager should ask question and persistently seek satisfactory answers. Here are some of these questions every project manager should ask.

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Questions Every Project Manager Should Ask During Project Initiation Phase

Project Initiation Phase

  1. ... What are the business objectives to be achieved with delivery of this project?
  2. ... How are these business objectives aligned to organization’s overall business strategy?
  3. ... What are the expected benefits of this project to the business?
  4. ... What does project success mean to you (stakeholder)
  5. ... How are we going to measure success?
  6. ... As a sponsor, customer or management, how important is to meet these goals, objectives?
  7. ... What problems are you facing and how do you consider this project will circumvent those obstacles?
  8. ... Do you have any specific expectations or concerns about project team, the project itself?
  9. ... How much are you (sponsor, customer, partner - stakeholder) involved in this project? In other words, what are the risks to you, if this project does not get delivered successfully?
  10. ... What do you expect of me as a project manager for this project?

Questions Every Project Manager Should Ask During Project Planning Phase

Project Planning Phase

  1. ...What are the limitations and assumptions associated with this project? (in terms of cost, resources, time, and scope)
  2. ...Is there any other project dependent on this project or vice-versa? How are they expected to be delivered in tandem?
  3. ...How important is this project relative to other related projects?
  4. ...As we will breakdown project deliverable, will these individual deliverable provide benefit/value of its own which will realize overall-expected benefits?
  5. ...Who should be involved in planning meetings – SMEs, legal, finance, account, audit?
  6. ...What is going to be the change management process?
  7. ...Pre-mortem analysis : how this project can fail? And how we can prevent it from failing?

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Project Execution Phase

  1. How are we going to evaluate realization of benefits?
  2. How will be stakeholder informed/communicated whenever major deliverables are delivered?
  3. Will overall business benefits still be achieved if we are not able to deliver specific deliverables as desired?
  4. What impact will it have on project, stakeholder or business if we do not deliver newly brought-forward (unplanned) feature?
  5. What are we missing – anything that will change the basic premise of this project? Does original business case still hold good?
  6. What is working properly with this project? And what is not working as expected?
  7. Is there anything that we should not do or stop doing or change doing it?

Questions Every Project Manager Should Ask During Project Controlling Phase

Project Controlling Phase

  1. Why are we doing this when it was not planned before?
  2. What is the business case for this unplanned change – how it is aligned with overall business strategy, desired business benefit?
  3. Okay, if we decide to do this change, how will it affect our course and ability to meet desired project objectives?
  4. Risk - what will be the impact of this risk if it occurs in future? How adversely or positively it will impact our course of delivering project and meeting objectives?

Questions Every Project Manager Should Ask During Project Closing Phase

Project Closing Phase

  1. Are we able to deliver project in a manner to meet project objectives?
  2. Are we able to deliver project in a manner to deliver business benefits?
  3. Who will maintain this project? How will this transition happen?
  4. What have we learned from this project? What can we do better next time?
  5. How would you rate our performance, engagement in delivering this project?
  6. Will you give us opportunity to work with us again?

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Post by Dhan Wagholikar

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