What are Project Objectives in Project Management?

Why do companies undertake projects in the first place? It’s a simple question with a simple answer: to reach goals.

These goals are also known as objectives. And the reason why these should be clearly defined is that they will determine the course of the entire project.

As a project manager, you know that hitting these targets is of vital importance. These are milestones and goals you need to reach on time and within budget.

Recent studies indicate that 55% of team members say project objectives are unclear. Thus, it is vital to take this step correctly.

Let’s take a deep dive into project objectives, considering the following aspects:

  • A closer look at project objectives
  • What to include in project objectives, and what not to
  • Using SMART goals
  • Some examples of project objectives

This should give you all the information you need to set, write and align your project objectives, and steer your projects to success.

A Closer Look at Project Objectives

One way to view project objectives is that they are a list of accomplishments you need to reach for the successful conclusion of a project.

Clearly, writing these down in a systematic manner before you start the project leads to a proper organization of resources – as well as a means of regulation.

With properly-written project objectives, you will have a clear method of communicating goals as the project progresses. And you will also have a way to measure success at the end.

  • The difference between project objectives and project goals is that goals are a higher-level outline of the project, while objectives are specific deliverables.
  • The difference between project plans and project objectives is that a plan is a comprehensive survey of all the steps needed for the project, while objectives are the outcomes expected.
  • The difference between project deliverables and project objectives is that deliverables are a list of assets created by the project to be handed over, while objectives are a wider summary of the effects of the project.

What to Include in Project Objectives—and What Not To

When writing project objectives, it’s often helpful to know exactly what level of detail and what specific targets and milestones you need to include.

The specific objectives will vary with each project. In general, you should make a list of accomplishments that the project is setting out to achieve.

For example:

  • What are the results expected from the project? These could be a higher customer retention rate, a better grass versus asphalt ratio, a reduction in the microbes in tap water, or anything else.
  • What are the things within your control, and which you can act upon? After all, a project is meant to use resources to create a change. Therefore, some variables such as the number of people who will download software may not be a part of your objectives.
  • The time period is an important part of the project objectives. These should be for the overall project as well as for specific milestones. Including these in the objectives imparts a sense of direction and focus.

One of the key reasons for listing down project objectives is that everyone should be clear about focus and direction. Keeping this in mind means that some aspects of the project need not be included in the objectives.

For example:

  • Options, flexible outcomes, or ranges. Ideally, project objectives should be as specific as possible so that all those working on the project are clear about targets. Writing project objectives that contain a range of outcomes will only lead to confusion.
  • Technicalities, jargon, and bureaucratic expressions. Again, the objectives should be clear for everyone to understand. The language should aim to express in a concise and transparent manner.

Keeping the above in mind will ensure that your project objectives are a helpful and essential guide to the progress of the project from the word go.

Using SMART Goals for Project Objectives

There is one more filter through which to view project objectives. This will make them powerful, compelling, and actionable.

This is the concept of SMART goals: those that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time- bound.

So important is this notion, in fact, that results from studies on the effects of proper goal setting show that 90% of the time, specific and challenging goals led to higher performance.

Let’s break down how you can get SMART.

Specific: Objectives should lay down clearly what it is that you and your team are setting out to achieve. What is the ultimate goal, and what are the important steps along the way? This is of great value when it comes to clarifying doubts and communicating to the team as well as to stakeholders.

Measurable: You should include metrics in your project objectives when possible. Otherwise, there will be no yardstick to check on how well or not the project is progressing. For example, the number of tasks completed per week, the time spent on the project, and the percentage of the overall project that has been completed.

Attainable: It’s important to check whether the objectives you’re laying down are attainable in the first place. Unreasonable or unplanned expectations should be avoided from the start. A realistic assessment of the goals in light of the time, budgets, and resources is the best way.

Relevance: Another key consideration is whether the project objectives are aligned with overall business objectives. There’s no point in creating an objective that the company is not suited for. Further, when the overall objectives are broken down into a series of smaller tasks, each one can be judged in terms of how it contributes to the overall objectives. Doing this provides a critical focus.

Time-bound: We don’t need to point out that deadlines are critical when it comes to projects. Experience and a proper examination of the project is required to properly estimate the time needed for completion. Setting proper estimations of time also helps with sub-goals. In this way, the entire project can move forward as a connected series of milestones.

Some Examples of Project Objectives

The best way to make the concept of writing good project objectives come to life is by providing examples.

Here, then, are two broad project objectives that follow the SMART formula. Of course, since these are only illustrative, they have been kept brief. Each project will have its own style and length.

To launch a landing page: Create assets and copy for a landing page with a clear USP linked to the social media and email marketing campaign. Focus on customer testimonials and a strong call to action. The page should be ready by the beginning of September to take advantage of the holiday season.

To construct a hotel extension: Add 35 new rooms and 1500 square feet common area to a hotel, with the same room size and interior details of the existing facilities. Minimize dislocation to existing hotel residents by partitioning off work areas. Complete a sample room for review in the next two months. Complete the rest 12 months after approval.

As you can see, project objectives should be an essential part of starting work on a project. Keep them clear, focused, and actionable, and you’ll be well on your way to victory.

Related FAQs

1) What Is Statement of Work in Project Management?
2) What Is a Roadmap in Project Management?