The more you know and understand the project's background the better prepared you'll be to establish a solid foundation.
Understanding the project's background helps to learn from history, establishes a solid foundation, and minimizes surprises.
At a minimum, it would be important to know who initiated the project, how the project was initiated, and why it was initiated.
Knowing if a similar project was done before and how it went can provide insight into what went well and what didn't.
Previous successes can be cloned or leveraged.
Previous problems may be avoided
Being aware of who was involved in identifying the need for the project can provide insight into the degree and depth of problem solving or vetting that occurred.
Knowing if a specific metric or goal will need to be met typically signifies the business impact and importance of the project.
When the business problem hasn't been defined prior to launching a project the project manager and team will need to facilitate gaining clarity otherwise conflict will typically develop.
Knowing if this project is part of a broader initiative or strategy is an indication of its potential importance to the organization.
Gather background information that's available and determine if you're comfortable moving forward.
Sometimes you may need to move forward regardless of the information available and continue doing research while starting the project.
Project background can be the result of senior management planning, customer requirements, employee suggestions, responses to daily problems, suggestions for leveraging new technology, etc.
The following business factors can have either a positive, neutral, or negative affect on your project. Consider reviewing each factor's impact on your project with the project sponsor.
Business Factors to Consider:
Company's # of Years in Business
Company Stage: start-up, growing, stable, or downsizing
Culture: Random, Collaborative, Closed, or Synchronous
Operating Maturity: Informal, Experimental, Systemic, or Sustainable
Revenue Performance: 0$, Declining, Stable, or Growing
Expenses Performance: Below Budget, On Budget, or Above Budget
Market Share: Declining, Stable, or Growing
Customer Satisfaction: Declining, Stable, or Growing
Employee Satisfaction: Declining, Stable, or Growing
Project background - Linkage with strategic or business plan, how project was initiated, sponsor, previous similar projects, any critical must meet requirements, i.e. schedule, budget, or deliverable quality, other?