Project Discovery: Questions Project Managers Need to Ask

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Clients who don’t get what they expected are a common reason for project failure and unhappy clients at the end. It’s not the fault of anyone. Clients can have difficulty defining their briefs, and agencies can be guilty in not being clear about what they’re actually delivering. How can we make sure we are all on the same page?
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It begins at the project kick-off meeting, and continues during the discovery or project initiation phases of a project. We need to ask the right questions during the initial project discovery workshop to allow our clients to share all the things they want to. We can get too focused on one area of a project at the beginning of a project and lose sight of the larger picture. Instead of asking questions that address strategy, user experience, technical, and PM requirements, we need to ask questions that encompass the entire project.
One-half of wisdom is a prudent question.
Francis Bacon It is important to ask the right questions at the right time. It is important to know the right questions to ask and when. This article will explore some of the table stake questions that are asked during a project discovery workshop. It is a checklist to capture basic information about a project so there are no surprises mid-project. Understanding each other’s unwritten assumptions is the goal.
Simon Ash offers a useful framework to help us understand where we should begin: “The good thing is that the core questions required are actually embedded in language.” The seven interrogative questions of “what, where, why? when, who, and how” are the key to unlocking any problem. Understanding their application is all that is required.
This is not an exhaustive list nor a template for a workshop. It is meant to be a starting point for conversations during initial discovery workshops. This list is not meant to be used by clients as a questionnaire. It is intended to help us understand our clients’ needs and to help us design a solution that suits their business.
Strategy
Goals – Why are we doing this? What are the goals of this website? What are the KPIs? How can we measure and assess success? How will it impact your bottom line? What should it accomplish from a business perspective. What should it accomplish? How do its business objectives align with unmet consumer needs
Messaging – What are the key messages that need to be conveyed? What is the one thing we want people think, feel, or do? What can we say that will make them do it? How does this fit in with the overall marketing and communication strategy How does this compare to competitive positioning? What is our unique selling proposition (USP), and what are we communicating that’s distinct?
User Experience
Audience-Whom are we trying communicate to? Who are your primary/secondary/tertiary audiences? Why? Is this different from your target audience? What are their demographics Why would they want to visit? When will they return? Why would they return?
User Journeys – Who are these users? What are their needs? What do we want them do? What are the current obstacles? What can we do to improve customer satisfaction? How can we increase loyalty? How can we increase conversion?
Functionality – What other functionality is required beyond static content pages? Browser detection? Geo-IP detection? Multilingual support? Shopping cart or eCommerce? Data capture? Forms? Print screen? Cookies? Dynamic content? Interactive maps Store

Author: Victoria