There are specific questions you should begin asking yourself to help make your project a successful endeavor. These basic questions will help you collect the information needed to manage the project and keep it headed in the correct direction.
1. What Needs to Be Accomplished?
What are you being asked to do? What is the project directives? This will help you understand the size of the project , which will help you start crashing the resources required, how much time it will take, what expertise you need to locate, etc.
2. What Needs to be Done?
Once you understand the scope of the project, you can start listing the items that need to be completed.
3. Who Needs to Participate?
Once you understand the scope and have an itemized list of tasks that must be preformed, you can start locating all the key players. There are people that are involved in the planning process and people that are involved in the doing process. As a project manager you need to locate and manage all the people involved in your project.
4. What are the Constraints?
What items must not be there or must be there? Time is usually a constant, as well as cost. You need to understand the constraints so that you can inform your team and complete the project within your allowed time.
5. What is Success?
After you and your team have expended many hours of effort, energy, and resources necessary to complete your project, how will you know when you have been successful? Define from the start of your project the definition of success, so all project decisions will constantly move you towards success.
6. What are your Assumptions?
The project manager is responsible for uncovering any assumptions and responding to the reality of each situation. Be careful with any assumptions.
7. What is the Project Schedule?
Even if the end date has already been decided, you should look at the project scope and resources available and constantly adjust your timeline (and projected completion date) to meet the status of the tasks that must be accomplished.
8. What are the Risks?
What could happen that might delay or stop the project? As the project manager, you have to be aware of the risks to your project, and create a plan on how you will deal with these risks if they occur. One example might be the risk of an employee quitting. What would you do if your only database administrator quit in the middle of your database design tasks? You need to think about that risk, and if it is a significant risk (maybe the employee is actively searching for a new position) then you need to be prepared to deal with that issue.
While these questions seem obvious to anyone who has been managing projects for any significant time, but if you are new to project management these questions should help provide you a starting point to begin your efforts to learn more about the process.