What questions do you wish you had asked before you started your first big project?
Since my first big project was about 20 years ago, I don’t remember many things about the planning process. I can confidently say that since it was done while I was working at Postal Service headquarters, there were many hoops to jump through. This was a 600-site network spread across the country, so the planning was extensive.
Without specific “I wish I had thought of that” memories, I will share some suggestions for questions that I think should be asked:
- What business goals will this project achieve? Is this really going to help accomplish something that has value to the overall organization?
- What is the anticipated lifespan of the hardware? What kind of preventative maintenance will it require to reach that lifespan?
- How often does the content management software provider expect to update the software? What will it cost to update all of the sites? What will it cost to add more sites?
- In order to get buy-in for the project, who needs to be involved in the planning process, e.g., marketing, HR, IT, facilities, etc.?
- Where are the likely bottlenecks and pain points? What contingency planning can I do to be prepared to address those issues?
- How will content be created – in-house or outside contractor? How often will it be updated? Will any external feeds (news, sports, weather) be used? How much will content creation cost?
There is one more question that proved to be absolutely critical for my project. Who will champion this project at the most senior management level? I found that, without that support, it was difficult to sustain funding for existing sites or for expansion sites, no matter how well the project was meeting its objectives.