Four Questions To Answer For Every Project

Pause. Push away from your keyboard. Answer these questions:

  1. WHAT are you trying to accomplish?
  2. WHY are you trying to do it?
  3. HOW are you going to do it?
  4. WHEN will you know you’re done?

If you don’t have answers then you need to stop what you’re doing before you waste more time than you already have. You’re working from best guesses and assumptions and setting yourself and the project up for failure.

Managers, if you’re not prepared to tell your team the answers to each one of these questions then you’d better be prepared to miss deadlines, go over-budget and miss the target entirely on functionality.

The best way to improve the chances of success for any project—technical or not—is to do some sort of planning. It doesn’t need to take very long, but at the end of the process everyone involved with the project should know the answers to the What, Why, How, and When of the matter. Only then can you have some confidence that everyone is on the same page and only then say you have a project team.