How to Manage a Project

Getting Started

Additional Materials

Getting Started Checklist

When starting a new project, experienced project managers try to put aside any feelings they might have of either excitement (at one extreme) or anxiety (at the other), and focus on a the following few key questions about the project. This is in fact the start to scoping a project.

1.    Am I clear what I am being asked to undertake?

 Establishing what the project is about will be a key part of the project scoping study.

2.    What type of project is it and what work is likely to be involved?

In broad terms, think about the project and the sort of work that is likely to be involved. Some projects simply need to be planned and implemented, whereas others need data collection and analysis as a preliminary stage.

In particular, at what stage is the project? Is it in the "Proposal" stage where you need to develop a proposal and business case, or can you move straight into planning, and implementation?

Also, has work has been done on similar projects elsewhere?

3.    Who is the Project Sponsor? - Who am I doing this for?

Try to clarify who you are doing the project for - who is your project sponsor. If your sponsor is a committee, is there one single individual who will act as your prime sponsor and contact, on their behalf?

4.    Have I the agreement to carrying out a Project Scoping?

In the ideal world the Sponsor would have asked you to scope the project but that does not always happen. Try to get their agreement to you scoping the project and producing either a project brief or project plan. Alternatively, do it and talk the plan through with them when the time is right.

5.    Who are the main Stakeholders and what do they want from the Project?

Map out the main "stakeholders of the project" - those who have a vested interest in the project and its outcomes, and establish what they require from the project. (see link to mapping stakeholder needs)

6.    What support in the organisation is there for the project?

Who is likely to be for it and who against it? If the project involves any organisational change whatever - try to identify those who will support the project and those who may resist it (see links to gaining support).

7.    What Resources can I use and what do I need?

Whose help and skills will you need to carry out this project.

  • Who should be on my team and how should I get them involved?
  • Who might be interested in this and might help me at times?
  • What key contributors will have to be forewarned and booked to help? (IT, HR, etc)
8.     Are there any significant Risks in the Project?

At first sight, what are the likely risks of the project - implementation issues which might throw the project off-course.

Think about these questions and if there is anything to be resolved, try to do it quickly before everybody starts to assume that everything is fine. The Project Sponsor may be able to help in this.