Ask the Correct questions at the beginning
A lot of times, the requests for assistance comes in terms of what the project needs NOW. The time for asking questions has apparently already passed and the requirement is to do the already planned work without consideration of what might be best.
A recent situation involved integrating purchased products with an in-house built infrastructure and rolling the entire product to the client. However, a minimal amount of thought had been given to the Quality Assurance aspects that were required and it was considered to be way too late in the project to 'think' about things.
However, even at this stage we felt the following two questions were worth asking:
1. What was expected from the vendors of the products we had purchased?
2. What did the client expect?
The answers to those two questions drove the entire Quality Assurance effort in a different direction than might have been originally expected.