My consulting, project management, and research focus on planning and managing data intensive projects. My contact information is here.

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"Big Data Project Management" Interview Questions Set #1

By Dennis D. McDonald

PURPOSE. I’m researching how people plan and manage data-intensive projects. I’m calling this my “big data project management survey.” I’ll publish the research results here. Let me know if you would like to participate or if you are interested in the results; my contact info is at the end of this article.

BACKGROUND. There has never been more interest in “big data” as evidenced by announced jobs, seminars, online publications, discussion groups, and national meetings devoted to topics like data analytics, data management platforms, new software tools, and data science.

Less attention is being paid to how people manage the special business and process change challenges involved in planning, managing, and governing data intensive project work.

As a consultant with a lot of data intensive project management experience I wonder about the reasons for this seeming mismatch. Based on the people I’m talking with, there does seem to be a general acknowledgement that project management skills are important to the success of big data projects and programs. One question is, what are these skills, and how can they be used to make “big data” projects more effective?

PROPOSED INTERVIEW QUESTIONS. As preparation for our interview please read my brief blog post “You Need a Project Manager on Your Big Data Team”

The following are suggested talking points for a 30-minute phone interview about “Big Data Project Management”:

  1. Briefly describe your own background or interest in managing data intensive projects.
  2. Do you think that too much attention is being paid to big data tools and not enough attention to big data project management? Discuss.
  3. Do you think that big data projects pose unique or special challenges to traditional approaches to project management? If so, what are they?
  4. What advice would you give to a project manager tasked with starting up a big data program in an organization that operates with a mix of legacy and newer cloud-based systems?


Copyright (c) 2015 by Dennis D. McDonald, Ph.D. I’m a Washington DC area management consultant. Let me know if you need help planning or managing a data intensive project or program. My services include preproposal research and analysis, proposal development and costing, marketing and sales support, project and program management including PMO setup and administration, project workplan development, and resource planning. Contact me by phone at 703-402-7382 or by email at


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10 Basic Suggestions for Planning and Managing Data Intensive Projects

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Problems and Opportunities with Big Data: a Project Management Perspective

Being able to make wise investments in “big data” capabilities may require more collaborative approaches to project management and decisionmaking than are currently being practiced.

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