Starting a new project is always a daunting task, as I have experienced multiple times throughout my career. I have put together some core questions to ask a client that you should have the details about before committing to your next project.
1. What is the objective of the project?
Knowing the reason why this project has been approved will allow you to understand the core issue you are going to deliver a solution to. By understanding the objective, it will allow you to devise a good project strategy that ensures you meet your clients expectations.
2. What are we NOT delivering in this project?
As important as knowing what the objective of the project is, it is also worth outlining what is not. By outlining what is not is one of the easiest ways to avoid extra work. For example if your project was to build a website, find out if you have to create the content or if it is supplied? Creating the content is going to take building the website a lot longer than if you dont.
3. When is the project deadline? Are there any key dates or time constraints?
Every project has a deadline to be completed by, sometimes it is arbitrary. Usually the deadline is determined by a key meeting or a marketing campaign. When doing a project plan it is good to plan to this final date.
4. What will you and the client consider a project success?
Discuss in detail with your client about what will be the criteria for the project to be a success. This will help you determine goals with the project and metrics for those goals.
5. Who are the key stakeholders involved? Who is responsible for each project deliverable?
Asking this questions gives you a good understanding of who owns what part of the project. The main person you want to find out is who is the project owner. This is the person who gives your project the final approval and also possibly signs off the pay check. You will also want to find the key contacts to discuss parts of the project in detail. Make sure you always keep the owner of the project involved with any communication and keep them informed of the projects progression. It is fundamentally important to work out these details before starting the project.
6. How will you communicate feedback and inform stakeholders of project success?
Giving the client transparency in the project progression and allowing them to give feedback is a good way to bestow trust to the client in your work. Breaking projects into a list of deliverables and reporting when these have been completed while getting feedback with also allow you to provide the best possible solution at the end of the project. Establish a process that allows constant feedback and determine who will be involved to avoid getting conflicting feedback.
7. Has a project like this been done before?
Looking into the past is a good way to gauge when moving forward. Always check to see if your client has completed any similar projects, they might be able to give you insight on how to proceed smoothly. Learning what does and doesn’t work with projects run in your clients organisation can give you good insight for the direction of your project. This will allow you to develop a good plan for your project that will work for your client.
8. Are there any obstacles or barriers that would prevent the project from being successful?
There are always problems in any project. It is good to get an idea of what can or could go wrong and eliminate them as soon as possible. Say for example the project owner is always in meetings most of the time, you can prevent this by planning your meetings further ahead or have a peek at their calendar. No harm in starting with a solid foundation of what might cause a hold up in the project.