Project Objectives

Definition: A project objective defines the “what” part of the project. The “what” must be possible, sensible, and able to be completed within a given duration. An objective sets the project’s goals and provides stepping stones for a project’s success.

This article describes project objectives, provides examples, and explains how to write them.

What Are Project Objectives?

Project objectives describe the aim of the project and set the goalposts for success. Project objectives are measurable and achievable; they push the team to stay on track. A project can have multiple objectives that can be achieved at different points over the course of the project. 

Project objectives should be clearly stated since they influence every decision during the project’s lifecycle. Objectives are measurable and include key performance indicators like budget, quality, schedule, etc. 

The project objective is sometimes known as the objective statement.

Importance of Project Objectives

Project objectives make it possible to track the project’s progress. An effective project objective guides the project team throughout the project’s lifecycle and it should have buy-in from all stakeholders. 

Regardless of what project management methodology (agile or waterfall) they follow, all projects have project objectives.

Project Goals Vs Project Objectives

Goals and objectives are different. Setting goals and objectives early in the project life cycle help establish key progress indicators and act as a “road map” for a project team. Failure to do so can derail the project. 

Undefined project goals and frequent changes in project objectives are common causes of project failure.

Project Goals 

A goal is an achievable outcome that is broad and long-term. A project can have multiple high-level goals. A goal should not be specific or vague. For example, making investors happy to get funding is not a worthwhile goal. Measuring satisfaction and happiness is difficult, and it does not serve a business goal.

Examples of acceptable project goals:

  1. Boost website traffic every year
  2. Grow sales for the next five years
  3. Increase product efficiency 

Project Objectives

Objectives are specific and have smaller tasks that serve the broader goal. Goals are essential, but objectives power the engine.

Examples of project objectives:

  1. Boost website traffic by 20% for three years.
  2. Grow sales by 15% for five years
  3. Increase the process efficiency by 30% in three months

The above objectives show what needs to be accomplished. They are the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) format of goal setting.

These objectives are the OKRs (objectives and key results) to help achieve the goals. 

Project Goals and Project Objectives Tables

Key FactorsProject GoalsObjectives
DefinitionProject goals define what an organization wants to achieve for a long-term gain.Project objectives are defined as tasks that are executed to achieve the result.
Time PeriodProject goals are long-term and usually can be achieved after 5-10 years.Project objectives are short- to mid-term achievements.
MeasurabilityProject goals are challenging to measure. They do not have any criteria to be adequately measured.Project objectives are easy to measure. They have set criteria that can measure whether they were met successfully or not.
StructureProjects goals are generic, vague, and abstract and lack structure, as they define long-term gains for an organization.Projects objectives are precise and structured to an organization’s short- or medium-term achievements.

How To Identify Project Objectives

Examine Project Goals

A review of project goals gives an idea about the objectives. Goals are what a business wants to achieve through a project. Objectives are short-term steps to achieve goals. The project managers must differentiate between goals and objectives and ensure that objectives support the organization’s goal.

Consider Customer Opinions

A project manager can identify objectives by analyzing data and feedback. Opinions from customers, clients, and team members must be included in the goals. 

Project-management specialist Tom Mochal gives an example in which a business plans to improve its telephone set-up to limit average caller wait time to less than sixty seconds. 

This is an objective toward the goal of enhancing customer service. A project manager can identify this objective by analyzing customer surveys that disclose that a two-minute response is reasonable to wait for a call to go through the system.

How To Set SMART Project Objectives

Smart Project Objectives

Objectives are “SMART” if they are specific, measurable, achievable (sometimes agreed), realistic (or relevant), and time-bound (or timely). 

To set SMART project objectives, adhere to the following guidelines:

Specific: Outline requirements with clear statements; do not leave room for misinterpretation. Think of the five w’s (who, why, what, when, and where). 

Measurable: Ensure that the objective is measurable, so the organization can monitor progress and know when the objective has been achieved.

Achievable: Choose achievable objectives. They should be agreed upon by managers, clients, and team members to ensure everyone’s commitment.

Realistic: Set realistic objectives so the project team can believe it is achievable. It will motivate them to reach the objective.

Time-bound: Include a specific date or duration by which the objectives should be achieved and get team members’ agreement. 

How to Write Project Objectives?

The following steps will help write robust project objectives.

  1. Identify Behaviors or Conditions to be Changed.
  2. Define the Meaning of Success.
  3. Describe the Focus Group.
  4. Include the Location and Time.
  5. Break Down the Project Objectives.

#1 – Identify Behavior or Conditions to be Changed

An organization may have internal challenges or behavior of team members that can affect the project objectives. Assess past projects and identify the behaviors or conditions that need to be changed. 

Identifying these issues helps project managers prioritize the project objectives. This creates a foundation to build robust and SMART project objectives.

#2 – Define the Meaning of Success 

Management should define the purpose of the project, its objectives, and explain how success should be defined. This helps the project team understand what success would look like, provides guidance, and motivates them to achieve the project objectives.

In order to define a project’s “success,” it is essential to write down the possible outputs and challenges using SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis.

#3 – Describe the Focus Group

Describe the focus group for the project. For example, a focus may be collecting leads, websites, systems, customer surveys, turnover, sales, profitability, etc. 

The focus can be different for each objective; therefore, describe the focus in detail to provide the right direction. 

For example, suppose a company wants to focus on profitability, aims to minimize plastic waste, and become a more eco-friendly company. However, these changes will increase manufacturing costs and reduce profitability. Therefore, this problem calls for rethinking that particular project objective.

#4 – Include the Location and Time

Mention the timeframe for achieving the objective and location, such as region or country. The time suggests an objective achievement date, such as the third quarter, annually, etc.

#5 – Break Down the Objectives

The organization has a lot of information when writing project objectives. They must narrow this information and make brief objectives but still contain all necessary information. The best way is to write several versions and select the best one.

A project objective should be a brief, one-sentence statement that includes actionable, measurable goals. 

Some best practices for writing project objectives are given below.

  1. Write the objective before starting the project.
  2. Identify all objectives before developing the project charter.
  3. Involve relevant stakeholders to get their buy-in.
  4. Be concise; it increases the chances of objectives being read and understood.
  5. Be transparent; ask for what is needed and expected.
  6. Use plain English, not jargon, so that everyone in the team can know the project objective in simple terms.
  7. Make sure project objectives can be controlled by the organization.

Project Objectives Examples

A few examples of project objectives are given below:

Example of a Business Objective

By June 2022, our senior web development team will develop a remodeled website, including a new logo, using their additional eight hours per week. Every Monday, they’re going to give us an update report on what they’ve achieved and what they still have left to finish. We’re allotting them a budget of 6,000 USD to complete the project.

Example of a Performance Objective

Our sales team plans to increase revenue by 20% by mid-year by offering consumers 1% more coupons in their mailboxes and inboxes. At the end of each quarter, we will track the sales made using the coupons.

Example of a Regulatory Objective

Our objective is to create one-time-use products that are more sustainable for the environment following the state’s recently passed sustainability legislation. By August 2022, we plan to have single-use straws, containers, and utensils that are more environmentally friendly. We plan to use bamboo for these products because it’s manufactured mechanically instead of chemically. We will conduct weekly production inspections to ensure the project progresses on time.

Examples of Good and Bad Project Objectives

Good objectives follow the SMART checklist and have all achievable elements. 

Bad objectives are not SMART. They lack specifics, don’t rely upon actions, or focus on a means to an end.

Conclusion

A  project objective should be SMART. A well-defined objective helps complete the project with minimal hassle by providing clear expectations for stakeholders. Project objectives motivate team members, provide clarity, and align their effort with the organizational goals.