1 - Get an understanding of the application being tested
2 - Understand the underlying technologies
3 - Understand the plan of work (future designs) for the product
4 - Understand the budget constraints that are working under
Points 1 & 2 are obvious. Point 3 is more to do with future planning (which could be moving from client / server web app, so it won't recruit a lot of client / server specialist - the bad example, but you get the drift ...). Point 4 is important because it determines not only the number of testers, but the skill level testers who can afford to hire the necessary training, etc...