Too often, project managers leap to solutions before taking time to completely understand the problem that needs solving. Defining the problem is a critical first step; if you fail to do this, you risk designing a solution that doesn’t address what users need or want — or one that does far more than required. Either way, you’re wasting time and money.
To focus your efforts on truly understanding the issue, answer:
- What problem do people think this project will address? Why do they see this as something that needs solving?
- Who has a stake in the outcome? Do all stakeholders have the same goal, or do their goals differ?
- What criteria will people use to judge this project’s success?
Adapted from Managing Projects (20-Minute Manager Series).