What questions should you ask the Project Manager?

The job title "project manager" appears on the contracts of employment of thousands of employees, many others simply get the instruction to manage projects, but very little of them really know what the management of projects really means. In many cases, the term "project management" has become an obvious name of many managers within a company.

So how do you know if you really are managing the project? What is your responsibility whilst managing a project? Here are some questions, which every Project Manager should ask before working on a project. And certainly, unless the answers are found satisfactorily, it is not advisable to start the project.

1 Which is my role in the project?

What is the name my project? What is the budget and duration? Do I know exactly what the project is intended to deliver? What is my role and responsibility in the project? Can anything be approved by myself or someone I need to refer to? Who validates my decisions? Do I have the time to manage the project alongside my normal workload? Am I required to prepare documentation? If so, to whom it will be sent to? Does this documentation need to be approved by someone? How many days shall I wait for approval?

2 Do I have a project management team?

Who else works with me on the project and to whom may I ask for help? Do the others know, they are working with me on a project? How can I reach them? Have they the time and are they willing to work on a project? How do I communicate with the other team members and how do they communicate with each other? Do I need someone to sign important documents? Will they do it? From whom can I get the project team members? Do I pay them from the project budget or are they paid by someone else? If the project team members are paid by someone else, would it be possible, that they could be removed from the project? If they work part-time for the project, who determines and guarantees the length of time working on the project? What else do they do whilst remaining part-time? Do I have the authority to influence the situation if they get too much work from their superiors? Could I replace the staff in cases of sickness or vacation? How can I motivate them?

3 What should be delivered by the project?

Is there any detail description of products to be delivered by the project? Who will accept the result of the project? Are there any specified quality criteria of the products to be delivered by the project? Are there any specified acceptance criteria? Is it defined precisely, what should be included (scope)? What would you do if the  products are flawed? Which approvals would you need for the payment of invoices? Has the user the capacity to operate and maintain the product that you supply? If needed, how is the subsequent maintenance of the product arranged and who will pay for it?

4 Do I know which is the latest version of the document?

How do you maintain the records about the different versions of products? Can you find older versions of the products? Do you have records, of who and when approved the change of products? Who is responsible for the approval of the latest version? If you find that something is wrong with the latest version, should I revert back to the older version? Is it foreseeable that an audit of the project documents will take place?

5 Do you understand the budget of the project?

What is the total cost of the project? Would I have the funds available immediately or will they be released gradually? Do I need someone's authorization to release the funds? Should it happen, that funding would be delayed, shortened, or stopped? What should I do in such a case? Do I have some tolerance in spending the funds? Do I have some contingency to cover the issues and risks?

6 Do you have a project plan?

How long will it take me to produce all of the required products? Am I able to split the final product into smaller deliveries? How do I estimate the duration and sources needed to produce the products? Can I ask someone qualified to make these estimates? Will I split the project into shorter stages? Are there any milestones that have to be respected by the project? Who will approve different levels of the plans? Which is the preferred format and presentation of the plans?

7 Are there some risks?

Is it possible, that the project does not deliver the product in time, costs, and quality? Shall it happen, that the project will lose the support from senior management? Shall it happen, that some project staff will withdraw? Shall it happen, that the subcontractors fail to perform their obligations?  Is the project sensitive to "peer pressure"? Are you able to estimate the probability and the impact of risks? Do you know, how to avoid or reduce the risks? Is there some budget to finance the risk responses?

8 Should changes be applied to the project?

Are changes permitted in the project? If there is a better and/or cheaper solution, can it be applied? Should the Investor or user require any changes? If the project will implement many changes and overspend the budget, who will pay for it? Who is able to approve the change? Is there some document allowed to trace the status of the changed product in time?

9 How do I control the development of products?

Do I have the possibility to control the teams developing the products? Will they prepare and send me progress reports? How do I know if the team encounters any problems or risks, that could affect the delivery of the product? How can it be assured that quality is observed during production? How is the quality of the final product reviewed? Who accepts the product from the Team leader? What happens if the delivery of any product is either late or has overdrawn its costs?

10 When should the project be closed?

How do you know, that the project is approaching its end? Which reports and documents should be prepared at the end of the project and who should approve them? Who should authorize the termination of the project? Who should be informed about the end of the project? What happens with the project team after the completion of the project? How do I know that the project was a success? Are there any follow-up actions to be taken after the completion of the project? Who, how and when will measure the project benefits?



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