This checklist is a summary of the initial business analysis in Understanding Project Context. This is an excellent tool to on-board new team members and consultants like myself.

One way I can be useful to clients is by helping them to define a problem and explore the solution space for the right one. The right solution is one that will give my client the edge over competitors and provide users what they really need, even when often it is not what they are asking for. The business analysis conducted in the first phase of a project “Understanding Project Context” is critical to clients making the best decisions to move their products in the right direction. This work is done at the beginning of the project before a solution is explored and a course of action is set.

For a PDF and print version use this link: Checklist for Understanding Project Context

For more detail in each area, visit previous posts where I discuss each one.

so now what?

What is the problem?

Clarify the problem
Determine what clients/users have the problem
Write down where in the business this problem occurs
Identify the event or time periods when the problem occurs
Describe why the problem happens
List the business outcomes desired for solving the problem
Identify how the business outcomes will be measured

so who are you

Who are the players?

Identify the people on the project team
Identify the executive leadership responsible for the project
Identify the project champions
Identify the naysayers
Identify who is going to be impacted by the project
Describe how all the people and roles relate to each other

your business

What business are you in?

Describe what business are you in
Describe your products, the market, your competitors
Describe where the problem we are trying to address fits into the overall business
Describe the focus of the work we will be doing as it relates to the business

what's your click?

What are the current technologies used?

List the technologies used to create your product and services
Describe why the technology was chosen
Categorize the skills of the employees you have
Diagram an introduction to the architecture
Document the technology road map


What are your current products?

List the current products
Describe the business, users, and technology and how they interact with your products
Screenshot the typical pathways through the products and services
Highlight some of the challenges users encounter in the product and services


Who is your competition?

List the companies you regularly encounter when selling your current products
Describe how this may change when you have a solution for the problem you are addressing
List some of the current offerings in this space
Describe what customers think of the current offerings
List the aspects of the offerings customers like and do not like


Who are your clients & users?

Describe your clients
Describe what part of their organization uses the products
List who in the organization is targeted by the current products
Identify who has the problem you are looking to fix

sales cycle

How is your product sold?

Describe the buyers, influencers, veto holders, end users, and superusers
Describe the sales cycle
Describe how long it takes to sell and how long it takes to install
Describe the channels where the product is sold: online, through 3rd party vendors, handshakes in a bar, or through long relationship-building
Describe what your sales people think of the products they sell

development process

What is your software development process?

Describe the development process
Describe what the team manager is responsible for
Describe how the teams are built
Describe how the teams are measured
Describe how they see their role in the organization
Describe the technologists’ understanding about the business and users of the target clients
Describe how much control developers have over the design process

product management

What is your product management process?

Describe where product management resides in the organization
Describe the responsibility of product managers across the whole offering from beginning through delivery and usage
Describe product managers responsibility around design
Describe how product management works with business owners, marketing, engineering, sales, customers, service, and release


What are your Tools of Engagement?

Select a tool to do desktop sharing
Select a tool to store and share files
Provide access to tools for collaborative work
Describe how you work together in a distributed manner
Describe your team / company standards and policies

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