Project managers are often bombarded with a whole slew of issues that must be resolved in a timely manner.  As the custodian of the project and the leader of the team, stakeholders look to the PM to be able to answer certain questions that shed a light on progress and achievement.

I have witnessed situations where asking project managers questions regarding the project felt almost like putting a question to a Magic 8 Ball.  Their responses seemed at best a guess rather than a studied response to key elements impacting success or affecting the project.

In order to best meet stakeholder expectations and hold the reins of the project, PMs have to have within their grasp answers to specific questions.  These answers will help educate stakeholders and ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding status. Here are the top 10 questions that PMs should be able to answer at any time:

  1. Why did we undertake the project and is that reason still valid?
  2. What will it take to make the customers/stakeholders happy once the project is complete?
  3. Where are we?  Which tasks were completed and which ones are left?
  4. How much of the budget has been expended and how much is left?
  5. How close are we to the finish line (resources & tasks)?
  6. Do key stakeholders understand where things are with the project?
  7. Are there critical (high probability/high impact) risks that may cause the project to derail?
  8. What are the top issues the project is facing and causing delays?
  9. Are team members optimistic or pessimistic about the project’s chances of success?
  10. What happens when all the deliverables are complete?

While it is possible for the answers to some of these questions to change throughout the project lifecycle, PMs must possess a solid grasp of the answers at any given time within that lifecycle.  In my book, these are the questions that the PM should not leave home without.