If you’re committed to doing your very best at work each day and taking every opportunity to show your bosses and colleagues that you’re dedicated and serious about your job, then when you get assigned to a new project you know that it’s a great opportunity to show your stuff. You likely get excited by the possibility of hitting the ground running and will stop at nothing to ensure that every facet of the project is completely successful.
If this sounds familiar, then you know that it usually takes a strong start for a project to finish strong. This means that you need to have a good handle on the core, fundamental aspects of the assignment. You’ll want to kickstart your work leaving no stone unturned and no question unanswered—because any lingering doubt or confusion at the beginning can fester, grow, and spread, and make a successful completion increasingly less likely.
Although the nature of work projects can vary greatly, based on a wide range of factors (including industry, size, and scope, to name just a few), there are some basic questions that you should ask and have answered before getting things going. We suggest asking the following questions whenever you’re assigned to a new project to help ensure a successful result.
"What are the goals of the project?"
Of course, knowing a project’s goals is key to being successful. After all, we can’t congratulate ourselves for building a helicopter (though impressive) if the goal was to build a boat, can we? We need to know the purpose of the project and what it is expected to achieve before we can begin determining what a positive result even looks like. Whenever you get started on a project, make sure that whoever is in charge clearly communicates to you the goals of the project—it’s the logical starting point for the next step, which is determining how to make those goals an achievable reality.
"What are the key target dates?"
Another crucial piece of any project puzzle is knowing the project timeline—this includes the final date for completion as well as all project milestones and deliverables along the way, especially the ones you’re responsible for. Once you know what is expected of you and when you’re expected to deliver results, you can plan accordingly.
"What is my role in the project?"
Getting clarity up front regarding your specific role for the project is crucial. When it comes time to deliver, you want to be sure that there are no surprises in terms of what’s expected of you. This becomes especially important for large projects with multiple stakeholders and deliverable windows.
"Who are the other stakeholders involved in the project?"
A crucial component for success on many projects—especially large ones with multiple components—is to make sure that everyone involved knows all of the other key project stakeholders, and to establish a regular and efficient flow of communication. When you’re getting started on a new project, always make sure you know all the players involved and how best to keep in contact with them.
There you have it, a few crucial questions that you should get answers to when you’re beginning any new work project. Of course, you’ll likely have additional questions that are specific to the project you’re currently working on, but getting answers to these fundamental ones will help ensure that your project gets off on the right foot, stays on track, and is ultimately successful.
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