The Power of Interviewing in Project Management: Building & Refining Baseline Project Plans

As a project management expert, I’ve overseen countless project operations and the one thing that remains consistent is the unpredictable nature of tasks, deadlines, and human dynamics – Project Planning by interviewing the team.

My name is Frank Cannata and I’m the Head of Operations and Solutions at We are Volume and for the last 25 years I have been leading delivery across the digital products of the worlds largest agency networks.

At We are Volume, we have designed our studio with a clear purpose: to support and fulfill the creative technology requirements of agencies and marketers in today’s fast-paced digital world. 

In this post I will go into detail and explain our philosophy in using project planning as a critical navigation tool to keep projects on schedule.

It’s vital for project managers to start strong, build a solid foundation, and be nimble enough to adapt to changing circumstances. One of the most effective ways to do this? The power of interviewing teams and clients.

Here’s why:

1. Understanding Stakeholder Expectations and Concerns

By interviewing team members and clients, project managers can get a deep understanding of what is expected from the project. This knowledge can aid in the creation of a baseline project plan that aligns with these expectations.

Tip: Make it a point to ask open-ended questions to extract not just what is wanted, but why it’s wanted. Understand the underlying goals and fears of stakeholders.

2. Unearthing Hidden Information

Even with a well-documented project charter or scope, there are always pieces of information or concerns that aren’t immediately obvious. Interviews can bring these hidden factors to light, ensuring that no surprises throw off your project midway.

3. Building Trust and Enhancing Communication

When you invest time in discussing the project personally with team members and clients, it fosters trust. This trust plays a pivotal role when challenges arise, and it ensures better communication throughout the project.

4. Refining the Baseline

Once the baseline project plan is in place, it’s not set in stone. With each week, the plan needs to be matured based on new findings, changes in priorities, and unforeseen challenges.

This iterative refinement allows for the control of the execution velocity and ensures that the project remains on track.

Tip: Schedule regular check-ins with your team. Make refinements a regular part of your project routine, not just a reactionary step.

Matt Zur, CTO

5. Proactive Scenario Planning

When you’re constantly in touch with the pulse of the project and the team, you can anticipate problems before they balloon into crises.

Interviews allow project managers to forecast potential pitfalls and make scenario plans.

In case a project starts slipping, these scenarios can be instrumental in ‘crashing’ the project – reallocating resources or changing strategies to bring it back on track.


While modern project management tools and methodologies have their place, the art of the interview remains a powerful technique.

It gives depth to a manager’s understanding, aligns the team’s goals, and creates an environment where projects can adapt and flourish despite challenges. More importantly – the team knows where we are going and when we need to be there – this stuff does and will change.

In a world where communication is increasingly becoming digital, don’t underestimate the power of a face-to-face (or voice-to-voice) conversation. It could be the key to ensuring your projects not only start strong but finish successfully.

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