This article has been originally published at APM.

The role of the project manager comes in all shapes and sizes. In a perfect world you might get to choose your project team or even your project, but in our often less-than-perfect world sometimes it’s necessary, for whatever reason, for a project professional to take over a project that is half-finished. This situation brings with it a whole different set of challenges for us and can test our skills and capabilities to the limit.

If you find yourself in this position, here are some questions you should be asking at the outset to give yourself the best possible chance of delivering a successful outcome.

1. What are the main project objectives?
Understanding a project’s goals is vital to delivering the right solution so take the time to look through the documentation properly. Talk to the team members, the stakeholders, the previous project manager (if possible) and anyone else involved to ensure that you fully understand the details of the project, what is expected and the likelihood of being able to deliver on those expectations in the time available.

2. Who are the stakeholders?
Take time to get to know your stakeholders. You want to know how involved they like to be in a project. Will they continually have suggestions, will scope creep potentially be an issue, or will they leave the project in your capable hands and be happy with regular updates. Working out this relationship will be instrumental in running a smooth project.

3. Take a look at the project schedule
Do not just accept the project schedule you are given; take a detailed look at it for yourself to find out where the project is in terms of its delivery timeline. The last thing you want is to find later down the line that there is a vital task missing or that the deadline is unrealistic. Fix these mistakes before you get started. If you spot any problems, ascertain how much leeway you might be allowed from the stakeholders in order to deliver a viable project. If necessary, instigate a full review of estimates, scope and final deadline.

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