When auditing a project (or taking over a project or even taking on a senior role in a team) I like to go and talk to everyone in the team.
When I do, I generally ask them the same questions to get a better feel for what is going on.
I really liked a set of questions I picked up from a book called “The First 90 Days”, so I use a modified set of them:
What is your role?
- What does that mean?
- How would you explain it to my mother?
- How would others explain what you do?
How confident are you the project will meet it’s objectives?
- What are the objectives? Really?
- How clear are you on the objectives?
- What do management think the project is doing?
- What do others think?
- If it fails, where will it probably have gone wrong?
What is the biggest issue facing the project?
- What would happen if we could get rid of that problem?
- What would need to change to get rid of it?
- How could we deal with that problem?
- How is it impacting us/the project? How does it impact you?
- How are we currently dealing with it?
- Why is it still there? What is stopping us deal with it?
- What should we do about it now?
What is the biggest unexploited opportunity in the team?
- What would have to change for us to exploit it?
- What would happen if we did?
What would you do if you were me?
Most projects are really really complicated. But most people know how well it is going or how scary it is if they have time to think about it. So I find you get a pretty good overall understanding if you just ask everybody these questions.