10 questions to ask before your project starts
Avoiding unforeseen show-stopper “gotchas” in software development projects can be a simple as knowing what to ask your customer upfront. Getting answers to questions before a project gets underway can make your life—and your job—easier and drama-free!
What to ask your customer
- What’s the “big-picture” vision for your project?
Have the customer outline their goals and objectives in detail.
- Who will directly benefit from this solution?
Find out if the solution is targeted at in-house staff, customers, sales, partners, third-party vendors—or any combination of these.
- Who are the stakeholders and decision makers for this project?
Understand who will be contributing to the process, who will be participating in reviews, and who makes the final call on questions or concerns.
- What infrastructure, products, and services will be associated with or affected by this solution?
Learn how the solution will be used to develop or support these deliverables and determine what kind of infrastructure changes will be required to enable legacy systems to work with the new solution.
- What kind of development schedule are you anticipating?
Go over milestones and any incremental implementations you should be aware of to keep things realistic and avoid scope and schedule creep.
- Will we need to bring partners, collaborators, or subject matter experts (SMEs) into the project?
Know upfront whether third-party resources will be involved or required—and what they must bring to the table.
- Will any specialized systems or tools be needed?
Outline any software, hardware, or other infrastructure that will be required, and get clear on who is expected to source or supply them.
- What are the known risks associated with this project?
Understand the risks associated with this project, and the expectations for managing and mitigating them.
- Are there legislative requirements or compliance mandates that this solution must satisfy?
Be aware of compliance issues before the Discovery phase begins to plan for, address, and avoid requirements that will become deal-breakers.
- How will you measure the success of this project?
In addition to understanding upfront goals, having a concrete idea of the specific metrics the project will be measured against can help you better plan and course correct as needed.
Navigating knowledge gaps during a development project is difficult, and not a good use of anybody’s time. Asking key questions during the discovery phase of the project can help uncover blind spots, avoid budget shortfalls, and provide valuable guidance to stakeholders who may need outside perspective on what will truly be required to bring their vision to life.