25 Project Definition Questions


  1. What is this project? What is it not? What is the project going to accomplish?

  2. What is needed vs. wanted? What is minimally required or acceptable? What is required for this to be successful? How will the outcome or results be measured?

  3. What is the end result? What does it look like? Describe it? What is it not? What is included/ and excluded? Are higher-level requirements, specifications, expectations and outcomes clear to the customers-client, sponsor, users, etc.?

  4. Why are we doing this project? What problem are we solving? What is the real need? What is the significance of this project? What was the original purpose? What are the “drivers”?

  5. What is the background? What is the history of previous work effort, attempts, or related projects? How does this project align with goals/strategies of your company? How will it further those goals/strategies? How does it relate to other initiatives?

  6. What are the expectations and assumptions of the client? What does success look like to them? What are the benefits for the client/user, and how will they be identified and measured?

  7. When is this project over? When is it needed? What is the drop-dead date...for which deliverables? How flexible are the deadlines? How will we know when it’s over?

  8. What assumptions are we making to achieve these objectives? What obstacles/problems are anticipated?

  9. What are the major milestones to be reported/communicated and to whom?

  10. What is the work needed to accomplish this—all tasks defined (WBS), responsibilities, assignments, etc.?

  11. What technologies will be necessary or used?

  12. Who are the stakeholders (who is affected by or interested in the planning execution and outcomes of this project)? Which are most important stakeholders?

  13. Who asked for/is driving this project? How will the product or result be used by each?

  14. What participation is needed and expected from the stakeholders? What responsibilities?

  15. How will higher management be involved and who? Who will make approvals?

  16. How will this affect or be affected by other projects across your company?

  17. How will stakeholders be informed/communicated with? What frequency? What format and content for each group?

  18. What are the politics of the project situation? Who are the players?

  19. How much change is expected/planned? Has a change management process been agreed how to evaluate and how much to plan for?

  20. What are the major risks to the project—what can go wrong? What concerns you?

  21. Does the project have a formal/informal organization structure and management process (including plans, approvals, reviews/authorizations, communication plans, reporting, etc.)? How will problems be escalated for resolution?

  22. What resources are needed (people, equipment, materials outside services)? What constraints to resources are there

  23. What is your span of control over the project and the extent of your PM authority? Responsibility? Accountability?

  24. Has funding been approved/secured? Who is funding the project? How much and at what times will funds be released?

  25. What are the necessary skills, knowledge and experience? Are they available? Resource constraints?