How to get into gear for project delivery
10 Questions to Ask a Project Manager Before a New Project
As soon as you join a team kicking off a new exciting project, it’s important that you build up as much of a complete understanding of the project as possible. This starts by first listing out and then running through a series questions with your project manager on aspects of the project that you don’t fully understand.
In this article, we’re going to share 10 examples of project management questions to ask before the project starts.
Question #1: What is the objective of the project?
Knowing the expectations of your PM or client beforehand is probably the most important step towards a successful project both for you and for the PM. The answers to this question will also help you and your team to remain focused on precise goals.
Question #2: Which delivery model will the project use?
For new development projects, the most popular model is Agile, with daily stand-up meetings and iterative development.
However, some project managers still prefer the traditional “waterfall” model. Anyway, the preferred model depends on your project, its features as well as on customer requirements. It’s important for you as a developer to know the frequency of meetings and reviews for better time management, so this should be one of project management questions to ask.
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Question #3: (For Agile-based projects): How long are sprints/iterations?
Typically a sprint lasts two weeks; however, some projects may also use weekly or monthly iterations. Again, it depends on project specifics. Being aware of the amount of time that is needed to complete a certain set of tasks is crucial for Agile-based project team members.
Question #4: How big is my team?
One of the questions you should ask when you are assigned to a team is: “What is the size of the team?” Firstly, it’s important to know how the workload will be distributed among the team members. Secondly, the team should ideally not exceed 8 members – otherwise, the delivery may become somewhat chaotic. Ask to be introduced to everybody and find out what their roles are on the project.
Question #5: Which communication tools will we use?
Clear communication is vital for any project, no matter its size or delivery model. Therefore, it is wise to minimise the number of communication channels. Projects often use tools like email, Skype, Google Hangouts, Slack, etc.
Question #6: Which collaboration tools will we use?
Another important questions to ask a client about a project is “How will communication be managed?” Depending on the project complexity, the team can use either a simple collaboration tool such as Trello or a more advanced one such as Jira. If you know the answer to this question, you can decide whether you need some extra time to study the new tools, with the expected results being an improvement to your working processes.
Question #7: How will the final product be distributed?
This question is especially useful if you are participating in a phone app development project. You should know to which platform (i.e. iOS, Android, etc.) you are building the app and how exactly you plan to monetise the app – via a download fee, through advertisements, etc. This will help you plan ahead and prepare for product launch.
Question #8: Are we free to use whatever technology stack works for us or is it up to a customer?
In some cases, customers specify their preferred technology stack in the technical requirements, but sometimes the developers also have the right to choose the stack that fits the project best.
Question #9: What are the most significant technical risks on the project?
This also belongs to important questions project managers should ask. By getting a sense of the challenges facing your PM or client, you can be prepared to offer workarounds and solutions that the client might have missed.
Question #10: What are the key milestones?
If the client already knows an approximate release schedule, ask them to share this information with you so you know your deadlines and can organise your time.