Questions framework to quickly understand and contribute to the new project you joined

Have you recently joined a new organization or new project, and feel un-secure if you will be able to fulfill the job you signed up for? Are you overwhelmed by the project and code? Don't know where to start? You are not alone! Here is a framework of questions to help you quickly understand and contribute to your new project.

First thing first, Ask Questions. No one expects you to know anything about the project, so don't hesitate to ask questions. Ask questions to multiple teammates and stakeholders, everyone has a different view of the project. The more people you ask, the better you know about the project.

Here is the question's framework.

Understanding Framework

1. What is the project's purpose?

Get an overview of the project's objectives and goals. Understand how it aligns with your organization's broader aims. To get a better understanding, get the Big Picture of the project, and then go deep into the focused aspect of your job. You don't need to know every detail in the big picture.

2. What problem is the project solving?

Identify the specific problem(s) the project seeks to solve. It will help to contextualize the project's importance and relevance.

3. What is the solution?

Learn about the approach taken to address the problem. It involves understanding the technologies, methodologies, or strategies utilized. It will also give you a top-level understanding of how the solution is associated with your skills.

4. What value or benefits does the solution deliver?

Assess the value created by the project's solution. It includes tangible and intangible benefits, such as cost savings, improved efficiency, or enhanced customer satisfaction. Also, understand no solution is perfect, so see if you identify the current limitations.

5. What are the components of the solution?

Familiarize yourself with the essential building blocks of the solution, including hardware, software, processes, or teams involved. This knowledge will provide a foundation for understanding how the project operates.

6. What are the current results?

Evaluate the project's progress so far. Determine if the project is achieving its goals, milestones, or key performance indicators (KPIs). It can inform your understanding of what might be needed moving forward. There is always scope for improvement.

7. How do the components function and interact with each other?

Delve into the details of how each component contributes to the overall project. Understanding these interdependencies will help you grasp the project's complexity and identify potential areas for improvement.

8. What is your primary responsibility within the project?

Clarify your role and expectations within the project. Understand how your skills and expertise will contribute to the project's success. What is expected from you in terms of deliverables and timelines? If you need more information or a deeper understanding of your focus area, revisit the relevant questions, particularly those of the problem, solution, and components. Remember, in a big project, you need to reevaluate these questions layer by layer to identify your focus area or primary responsibility within the project.

9. Begin contributing effectively to the project.

Once you got an understanding of the project, its goals, and your role, I am confident, you can start making meaningful contributions. As you progress, continue to ask questions, collaborate with your team, and adapt to new information and changes within the project.

Make sure you ask these questions to different team members and other stakeholders. You will get a better understanding of the project.

Here is an additional article with an example of "how to apply this question's framework to navigate the project?".