I read these 10 questions on the Priority Attitudes blog. The post is from an article written by Richard Maybury’s colleague, Paul Stacey and is worth clicking through to read. I’ve met Richard and some of his clients, so I know that he gets results. Paul and Richard point out that a firm foundation for a project is critical to its success. Get it wrong, and cracks will appear down the line.

Of the many projects I have seen over the years, I often seen a pattern of over thinking the details, while under thinking the purpose of the projects. The former creates rails for things to go off, while the latter means that people are unclear of what to do when things go off track, as they do inevitably.

Focussing on outcomes, the steps to get to them, and the constraints around them, actually creates more flexibility than focussing on activities and who will do them.

Here are those ten questions:

  1. What’s wrong with the current situation?
  2. How will things be different when we’ve finished?
  3. What are the performance criteria?
  4. What’s the scope of the assignment?
  5. What are the cost constraints?
  6. What are the time constraints?
  7. What project specific constraints exist?
  8. Who is the project sponsor?
  9. Who is the project manager?
  10. What authority is being delegated?

Lots of people have asked us to add multiple owners for milestones and workstreams in Milestone Planner. We hear you. We are working on a way to do this, but one which keeps points 8,9 and 10 clear. Clear ownership means clear accountability and less risk of “hot potatoes”. Clear responsibilities and ownership are key to ensuring that projects progress along. The feedback we are getting is that Milestone Planner really does help to keep things on-track, and provide clarity for everyone involved.

I’ll leave you with a last quote from Richard’s post:

Of course, laying a firm foundation is only the first step to creating the project deliverable and many potential pitfalls remain for the unwary project manager. But without clear answers to these ten questions it is highly likely that the project will encounter significant problems later.