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I'm a data analyst. I get assigned small projects.

The projects usually take anywhere from 1 day to 2 weeks to complete.

An example would be: Create a system/query that will generate a list of roads that are suitable for next year's asphalt crack-seal program.


Unfortunately, I don't usually get good direction from management about projects.

I would like to come up with some standard questions to ask management (and stakeholders) that would encourage them to put the project into context and give me the direction I need to be successful.

The questions might resemble something like this:

  1. What is our department's overall goal? *
  2. What problem are we trying to solve?
  3. What happens if we don’t solve it?
  4. Why do we need to solve it now?

(Also, how will we know if we succeeded? And as a follow up: Did the product withstand the test of time?)

* The department's goal has already been defined, I just want to remind people of it and tie the project back to it.

Are there industry-standard questions that I could ask so that I get good direction from management and stakeholders?

  • 2
    Actually, your questions are already getting to the core: Identify the problem needing a solution, and assess the ratio of costs versus gains respective avoided losses. Often management thinks they already know the solution and don't need to talk to you about the problem but just request that their solution gets implemented. Getting into a conversation about the actual problem is often a good thing. – Hans-Martin Mosner Aug 4 '19 at 11:34
  • Just make sure your questions don't sound like you'd like to avoid the work and just want to convince them that there is no problem :-) – Hans-Martin Mosner Aug 4 '19 at 11:35
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There is no standard list of questions, defined by PMI (or any other organization). You have your own industry, your own vertical, your own org and your own group. It's very specialized...

Part 1, Chapter 5 of the PMBOK covers Project Scope Management. Chapter 5.2 is about Collect Requirements and goes through the Inputs, Tools & Techniques and Outputs of that Process Group.

Part 2, Chapter 3 of the PMBOK describes the Planning Process Group. Chapter 3.3 is about Collect Requirements and goes through Project Plan Components and Project Document Examples.

These provide a framework for you. Your ask falls under the topic of OPA (Organization Process Assets) or possibly EEFs (Enterprise Environmental Factors). The questions you need to ask are very specific to your organizational needs and your industry.

Review those sections of the PMBOK and see how they apply to what you're encountering. If your company doesn't have OPA that covers these situations (formal or not) then you'll have to go outside of your organization; trade-specific groups/periodicals/organizations.

Similarly, your industry and contract channels might have EEFs (federal rules, local municipality requirements, OSHA/ANSI standards, etc.) that your process should snap to.

So, long story short:

  • There's no specific list of questions that exists for your situation.
  • The questions you're looking for are actually OPA/EFFs.
  • PMBOK best practices provide a guide to finding/creating the questions so they're most effective.

Good luck!

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+50

You seem to need a communications management plan more than a list of questions. Build a good register of your stakeholders, specifically the senior managers who should serve as each project's sponsor, and then nail those folks down to a regular communication pattern. If they're not giving you all the information that should exist in a project's charter (the business case, the risk environment, the expected outcome), they should at least give you some calendar space so you can bring your questions and review their expectations.

Those "Meetings" that are listed in the ITTOs for practically all of the processes in the PMBOK are rearing their ugly heads here -- but they're the answer to your information shortfall. Spend time with those managers until they understand your information needs (and capabilities) and you understand their requirements and context. Effective stakeholder engagement really depends on your people and communication skills, and that comes down to spending time together and earning their trust. There's no list of generic questions that can pull that off for you.

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