The 9 Most Important Questions to Ask Before Starting Any Project

Have you ever struggled to get your project past the finish line? Have you ever felt a lack of support and commitment from other departments and clients?

Project Management is the art of asking questions in a systematic way to focus our energy on getting results in time and within budget.

In this post, I am going to share with you the 7 Questions you need to ask in the very beginning before you dive into planning and action so that you can save money and time. Just ask these questions before you dig into the goal-setting for your project and you will be fine.

Starting a new project can be an exciting yet daunting task. You likely have a vision for what you want to accomplish, but the path to achieving your goals may seem unclear. Asking the right questions upfront is crucial to setting your project up for success.

In my experience managing projects over the past 10 years, there are 9 key questions I’ve learned to ask before kicking off any major initiative. Taking the time to thoughtfully answer these questions will help you lay a strong foundation, anticipate challenges, and minimize missteps down the road.

1. What Are the Expected Results of This Project?

Defining the intended outcome of your project may seem obvious, but many teams dive in without fully clarifying what success looks like. Be as specific as possible when articulating the objectives. Quantify goals when you can – how much revenue do you want to generate, how many new customers do you want to acquire, what metrics are you trying to improve? Make sure all stakeholders agree on what you’re aiming to achieve. Document the goals and refer back to them often to keep everyone aligned.

2. What Is the Timeline?

Once you know what you want to accomplish realistically map out the timeframe for achieving it. Break the project into distinct phases with targeted completion dates for each milestone. Build in some buffer time for unexpected delays. Make sure to factor in any hard deadlines or interdependencies with other initiatives that could impact your schedule. A detailed timeline will help keep things on track and allow you to regularly assess progress.

3. Who Is Already Involved in This Project?

Carefully consider who needs to be part of the project team for it to be successful Look beyond your core group to identify other people whose expertise can inform the work or who will be impacted by the outcomes The more diverse perspectives you include upfront, the fewer surprises you’re likely to encounter later on. Define clear roles and responsibilities for each team member. Outline expectations for their involvement and how they will collaborate with one another.

4. What Are the Interdependencies of This Work Within the Organization?

Rarely will a project exist in isolation. There are almost always connections to other teams, initiatives or organizational priorities that influence how work gets done. Take time to identify any existing projects, processes or structures that yours will depend on or impact. How will you tap into the work of other groups? Is anything happening that could derail your progress? Uncovering cross-functional dependencies ahead of time allows you to explore risks, mitigate blockers, and secure buy-in across the organization.

5. What Is the Budget?

Every project will have costs, so determine how much you can realistically spend and the resources available to you. Detail expenses like technology, equipment, travel, consultants or additional staff. Define the investment required in terms of people’s time and effort as well. Align early on whose budgets will fund each part of the work. Monitor spend closely as you go and adjust if needed to stay within budget constraints. Don’t risk going over budget down the road by failing to accurately project costs upfront.

6. What Known Obstacles Exist in Getting This Project Done?

Honestly assess potential roadblocks that could make executing the work more difficult. These could include bureaucratic processes, embedded cultural mindsets, technology limitations, resource constraints or external factors beyond your control. It’s unlikely you’ll anticipate every obstacle, but you’ll have more options to proactively address the ones you identify early. Have an open conversation about challenges to determine strategies for overcoming them.

7. Why Is This Project Important to the Company?

Connect the purpose of your project back to the organization’s business objectives and strategic priorities. Be able to clearly explain how it will help drive the company’s mission and goals forward. Tie outcomes to metrics that your leadership team cares about improving. When objectives are misaligned with organizational priorities, projects risk losing momentum and stakeholder support. Making the case upfront for why your project matters creates buy-in and sets you up to secure the backing needed to sustain it.

8. How Does This Project Impact Our Customers or End Users?

While achieving your project goals is important, don’t lose sight of how the outcomes will ultimately impact customers and end users. Will it help save them time or money? Are you improving their experience in some way? Thinking through their perspective ensures you stay focused on delivering meaningful value, not just checking tasks off a list. Connect with actual customers to gather input and feedback as you work to ensure you’re addressing their real needs.

9. What Risks Come with Doing This Project?

Change inherently involves risks. Being too optimistic about challenges that may arise can sink a project. On the other hand, letting fear of hypothetical worst-case scenarios prevent you from moving forward stifles innovation and growth. Find the right balance by asking “What if?” questions to identify the most significant threats if things go wrong. Then, make plans to mitigate risks where possible and develop contingency plans to quickly respond when the unexpected happens.

Taking a thoughtful approach upfront by asking the right questions sets your project up to deliver strong results. But don’t stop there. Stay curious, gather input, anticipate obstacles, and adapt as you go. Projects rarely follow the exact path you expect, so your questions must continue as you seek to achieve a successful outcome in the face of an ever-changing environment.

With some careful planning guided by these key questions, you can feel confident kicking off your next project informed, aligned and equipped to navigate whatever challenges arise. The work you do today to lay a solid foundation will pay dividends throughout the lifecycle, leading to fewer headaches and greater impact.

So before you rush ahead into execution mode on that new idea, pause to ask yourself these 9 questions. Your future self will thank you for taking the time to thoughtfully answer them.

Key Takeaways: Questions to Ask Before Starting a Project

  • Clearly define the expected results and how you’ll measure success
  • Map out a realistic timeline aligned with business objectives
  • Identify cross-functional stakeholders to engage in the work
  • Uncover dependencies with other teams/initiatives
  • Estimate required budget and secure funding
  • Proactively address foreseeable obstacles and risks
  • Connect project goals back to strategic priorities
  • Gather input from customers and end users
  • Have contingency plans to mitigate risks if they arise

Frequently Asked Questions

How many questions should I ask before starting a project?

Focus on asking the 5-10 most important questions that will clarify objectives, anticipate challenges, and garner buy-in. Too many questions upfront can slow momentum, but too few questions risks overlooking critical details.

When should I ask these questions – at the start or throughout the project?

Ask foundational questions at the very outset of a project, then continue asking follow-up questions as needed during planning and execution. Project requirements always evolve, so your questions must adapt over time.

What if I don’t get clear answers on the first attempt?

Persist in re-asking key questions until you get the details you need, involving other stakeholders if needed. Don’t let ambiguity around budget, goals, roles, or timelines go unresolved or it will undermine the work.

Who should be involved in answering these questions?

Engage a diverse group of stakeholders including leadership, project team members, operational partners, customers, and end users. The more perspectives included, the more insights you’ll gain.

How can I encourage stakeholders to answer openly and honestly?

Focus the conversation on risks and challenges, not assessing blame. Make it clear you want to uncover issues early so they can be addressed proactively, not ignored. Lead by example in being transparent about your own concerns.

questions to ask before starting project

Question 2: Why do we want to do this? What is the purpose?

Do we do this to make our children happy? is it because we love it? is to for our office? For the Lobby of a Hotel?

The tree has for me a symbol of our family reunion, a symbol of beauty, happy family time, peacefulness, everything is alright, time to rest, sing songs and play with the kids under the warm lights of the Christmas tree.

Do we want to impress our neighbors or parents or is it just because of its a habit?

How important is this project for us? For me?

How motivated are you personally by this project?

Question 4: How many resources are available? What is the budget?

Now the family CFO always said we need to save and not spend more than XYZ on that tree. Either we got it from the forest or we extended the budget and save on mote stuff as the beauty and height were very important.

But you know Christmas trees can be very expensive and you need a car for transportation and you need lights and glass figures. I remember we transported the tree with a convertible. we just opened the top of the car and a 3 m tree fitted easily inside. e, where luck is, was not snowing that day. A tree cost 60 Euro and sometimes we here to save and drove for

How much do want to spend on the tree? how much on the decoration?

What is interesting despite the idea to save on the tree as they can be very expensive we always took the longer, higher one despite the cost as the risk having a high tree was more important than just to stay with an unrealistic budget.

6 Questions to Ask Before Starting a New Project

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