A project has a beginning and an end, but without an objective, it’s a rudderless ship. In order to steer your project successfully and land in a safe harbor, you’re going to have to figure out what your project objectives are.
What Are Project Objectives?
To begin with, we need to define terms. If you’re struggling with writing an effective project objective then it might be because you’re confusing objectives with vision statements and goals.
Clarity is key in creating an effective project objective. As in anything written well, the author must be clear about what they’re trying to say.
Project objectives are the way to communicate to your team, those individuals who will be executing the project and creating the deliverables that better meet the quality expectations of your stakeholders.
So, let’s take a look at three distinctions that you’ll need to know in order to write an effective project objective.
The vision statement is considered the highest level statement because it describes the direction and aspiration of the project, even if that might not ever be achieved.
The vision statement is the foundation on which any strategic plan is built. Therefore, it must be sturdy and outline the grand scheme. It can be a little “pie in the sky.”
This is not necessarily a realistic or pragmatic document. It should inspire and motivate your team. It should be short, not overly complex but easy to immediately understand and also be clear in that it shouldn’t allow for various interpretations.
Goals are also high-level statements, and they can be somewhat vague. They do, however, provide overall context for what the project is set to achieve and how it aligns with business goals.
There are different types of goals, such as performance goals, time goals (referring to start and end dates) and resources goals. These three goals compete with one another, therefore, a variable with one will have an impact on the others.
Goals must be consistent with the overall corporate strategy. They need to be measurable, achievable, complete, consistent and solution independent.
Project objectives are specific and are considered lower-level statements. They describe results: specific, tangible deliverables that the project will produce. Progress towards an objective can usually be tracked with a project dashboard because objectives are often associated with metrics.
Objectives are stated clearly as they are going to influence every decision in the project throughout its life cycle. Like project goals, objectives must be measurable as they will decide whether a project is a success or not.
Therefore, objectives contain KPI metrics, such as budget, quality and how long it takes to finish the project.
Why Should We Care About Effective Objectives?
The main reason why effective objectives are important is that the more clear your objectives are, the more likely they are to be achieved. Plus, your project will be that much easier to manage.
Objectives are crucial for they offer a way to structure the project and validate its success. Therefore, the more effective the objectives, the more successful the project.
Think of these objectives as the lodestar your project must follow. They guide you through every aspect of the project and over all its phases. They offer project managers measurable targets to hit and make teams understand what is expected of them.
How to Write Effective Project Objectives
Each project objective needs to meet the SMART criteria. This acronym will guide you to effective objectives.
How? By making sure each objective is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.
That means defining the objective and making sure that there’s a metric to measure its progress, so you can tell if it’s meeting your baseline expectations.
Therefore, it must be achievable or else there’s no sense in trying to reach it. So, be realistic, and make sure the objective is possible and relevant to both the project and the organizational strategy of the business.
Finally, your objective must have a deadline. It can’t be open-ended. There must be a time constraint. How is it time-bound, by months, weeks and days? These are all questions to ask.
An Example of a Project Objective
If the goal is to increase the overall satisfaction level for customers by submitting support tickets through the website, then the project objective is to implement a new online ticketing system by a certain date to achieve ticket response times of no more than an hour.
Now, run it through SMART: is it specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound? If it meets these criteria, then it’s an effective objective.
In terms of the goal, how will it be reflected in performance, time and resources? And ask if this goal is in alignment with the corporate strategy?
ProjectManager for Better Project Objectives
If you’re looking to define and achieve your project objectives, you need a dynamic project management tool. ProjectManager is a cloud-based software that tracks your objectives and goals with real-time metrics on our dashboard. That’s SMART.
Reports can be filtered to show the data your want and then generated with one click to present to stakeholders. Resource management balances your workload and keeps the project on track. Online Gantt charts schedule over a timeline and can be easily edited by dragging and dropping start and due dates.
More About Project Objectives
What is your project about? The project objective states this before the project initiation. It will be a document you return to over and over again in the project in order to stay the course. This is true whether you’re working waterfall or within an agile framework.
The project objective is for your team, the stakeholder (especially as they request changes) and the project manager. It’s that important. If you want that project objective to be as effective as possible, then watch this short video by our resident project management expert, Jennifer Bridges, PMP.
Here’s a screenshot for your reference.
Pro-Tip: Don’t neglect business objectives. If the objective of the project isn’t aligned with the company strategy, then it’s not going to be effective.
Thanks for watching!
Today, we’re talking about how to write effective project objectives every time. Well, I find sometimes people struggle with writing objectives because they get them confused with goals and even the vision. So I wanna start by clarifying what each one of these terms mean.
So the vision statement is the highest level statement. What it’s doing, it’s showing direction and aspiration. It may or may not even be achieved, but the goals are, they’re more vague, but they’re still high level, they provide the overall context for what the project is to achieve and aligns with the business goals.
The objectives are a lower level statement, they describe the desired result of the project, they describe specific tangible products and deliverables that the project will deliver. So the goals are more vague and the objectives are a little bit more specific.
So why do we care about effective objectives?
Well, managing a project calls for clear objectives. The more clear you can get your objectives, then the more likely you are to achieve them. So they’re used to structure the project and validate your success. So how do we make those objectives more effective?
Well, we use the SMART technique. So SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. So when we talk about projects and we talk about goals and objectives, I wanna give an example.
So and a goal for a project could be to increase the overall satisfaction of customers submitting support tickets through the website, that would be the overall goal of the project.
So one specific objective would be to implement a new online ticketing system by August 1st to achieve ticket response times of no more than one hour. So let’s check it out. So is it SMART?
So it’s very specific, it tells you exactly what’s going to happen, by what time, and what results you’re going to gain. It’s also measurable. You can measure the ticket response times, and make sure they don’t exceed one hour.
They’re also achievable by using this ticketing system, they are able to be achieved and they’re realistic for your team. And also time-bound, you know you’re going to implement this by August 1st. So now you can see the difference between the goal and how the objective help support that goal.
So if you need a tool that can help you document your objectives, structure your project, and validate your success, then sign up for our software now at ProjectManager.
(This post updated December 2019)