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The goal of a project, i.e. its overall purpose, is reached by achieving certain objectives. So, for a project manager, knowing how to identify project objectives and making them applicable for your team is essential for keeping the project on track and eventually achieving a successful result.

Identifying objectives in project management is an important process.

At the beginning or planning phase of any particular project, the project manager will need to create several documents to outline what the project wishes to achieve, how it will do so and in what space of time. This project plan will act as a roadmap to guide the team along the course of the project. Here we will focus on how to identify project objectives to make sure you are choosing the most appropriate focus for your project.

These are five general categories that project objectives fall into:

  • Performance Objectives
  • Business Objectives
  • Financial Objectives
  • Regulatory Objectives
  • Effectiveness Objectives

How to Identify Project Objectives

  1. Strategic Objectives

These are the primary focus of the individual project which set a target for your team to work towards. These strategic objectives strive to achieve the overall goal set for the project by the relevant stakeholders. It is generally up to the project manager and team leaders to define these more specific objectives once the goal has been set. Some examples of strategic objectives would be:

  • Increase sales by 20% by March
  • Decrease customer response time by half an hour
  • Improve NPS by 0.5 within six months
  • Increase revenue per sale by $200
  1. Performance Objectives

These are project objectives geared towards measuring the processes and function of your team. They are often ongoing goals that apply to all projects and the data gathered can be used to improve the productivity of the whole organization. They allow your projects to always have a secondary, but very important function, that of tracking the progress of your organization in terms of how it does its work. Some examples of these would be:

    • Measuring overall project coherence to initial plan
    • Measuring accuracy of budget predictions
    • Measuring timeline efficiency
    • Measuring individual task performance
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  1. Financial Objectives

Projects cost money but are also generally about making money as well, thus financial objectives are those that are concerned with the monetary ins and outs of a specific project. This encompasses dealing with the basic performance of a budget, i.e. how much was spent, but can also include the underlying financial details of both the project and the organization as a whole. Examples could be:

  • Create savings of $30 per unit
  • Maintain or decrease supplier costs over 12 months
  • Keep project overtime below 2hrs/person/week
  • Ensure budget stays within 10% of projected total
  1. Regulatory Objectives

Depending on the industry, a project will face varying levels of regulatory requirements. These can be set at a government level but also can include things such as a company’s desired sustainability goals. Being aware of a project’s impact in terms of these requirements can often be overlooked but are nevertheless an important consideration for a project manager.

  • Keep project within set government regulations
  • Maintain support of external stakeholders
  • Adopt and follow a sustainable working policy
  1. Effectiveness Objectives

An organization will always want to try to improve its processes and the way it performs its tasks. Inside every individual project, the PM should be aware of and track the effectiveness of the methods that are implied. By setting specific objectives to this end, it gives the organization an opportunity to monitor its processes and identify possibilities for productivity gains.

It is important to recognize these categories and to choose project objectives that fit the focus of the project’s goal. When finding your project objectives, they should fit the ethos that has been agreed upon by the relevant stakeholders so as to make them as clear and easily communicable as possible.

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