What are the Five Ws and One H in projects? Your complete guide

Your guide to the 5 Ws and 1H framework. Learn all you need to know about the Five Ws and One H in this blog.

What are the Five Ws and One H?

The Five Ws and One H signify the 6 basic questions that you should ask while gathering info or solving an issue. These five questions are:

  1. Who?
  2. What?
  3. Where?
  4. When?
  5. Why?, and
  6. How

These questions are used to gain complete factual info about any issue. The use of these questions gives the person asking the answer to the questions, or the solution to problems or an efficient way to build something.

Let's understand the framework in detail

So you know what the 5 Ws and 1 H are. Next, let's understand how they are applied in a more elaborate manner. Although, note that these find use across industries and functions. Each industry applies them to different concepts to fit its needs. However, what the Five Ws and One H try to understand is roughly the same across different fields.

First, let's understand how the use of this framework came about. This approach originated as a way to make it easy for journalists who needed info to write their stories.

A well known rule among journalists is that the start of the story should contain the answer to these 6 doubts. Due to this, the combination of the 6 is often referred to as 'The Reporter's Questions', referring to news reporters. The answer to these is viewed as sufficient data to write a good story by journalists.

Basically, one is trying to determine the following:

  1. Who is it about or who was involved.
  2. What happened?
  3. Where did the thing happen?
  4. When did it happen?
  5. Why did it take place? and lastly,
  6. How did it happen?
the Five Ws and One H, 5 Ws and 1H

The 5 Ws and 1H in project management

In this guide, we will look at the Five Ws and One H from a project management point of view. In this arena, the framework applies as follows.

Who - Here, you're trying to understand who are the people impacted by the project being undertaken. The stakeholders, customers, as well as the team come into play when answering this. All the people working on it and gaining benefits are considered here.

What - It's likely the first question you'd be answering when working on a project. As is obvious, you would first want to know what it is that you're building.

Where - This answers where the project will be worked on and where it would then be delivered.

When - In this question, you are trying to determine when you will complete the project. For this, you'll mostly need to answer the other questions before coming to 'When'. Only then, draw an estimate of the time of completion.

Why - Knowing why the team is working on a given project is quite important as it helps to align the work accordingly. It also gives a purpose to the people working on it when they know why they are building the project and the problems they are solving.

How - Once you've gained answers to the Five Ws, that's when you come to the How of the project. As you can figure, this is where you'd be answering how you wish to go about with the implementation of the project. You'd put into practice the answers to the other five questions.

Other applications

In project management, a number of questions can be answered using the Five Ws and One H framework. The earlier explanation shows how it applies in making the product roadmap.

As another example, let's see its use in writing a user persona.

Here,

Who - You'd be gaining info about who the person is in terms of location, goals, desires, etc.

What - This answers what the role of the person is in the organization they are a part of. The job they do and their various responsibilities are a part of this section.

Where - Here, it's the organization that you're bothered with more. You see the industry it's functioning in, its size, location and other things.

When - When will the user make use of the solution that our team is proposing to them? So, when in their day to day work will they find the services provided useful?

Why - Basically, why would they want to resort to your services? Also, what can you offer that would make them want to buy your products or use your services?

How - How do they work at the moment. You'd also answer how you'd solve their problem.