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All companies and projects are driven by specific goals and objectives. These can be long or short term and can be based on achieving tangible, physical results or more abstract outcomes. Despite the fact that they are so similar as to often be used interchangeably, there are actually significant differences between goals and objectives and it is important for anyone in business, and especially project managers, to understand them.

How to Identify Goals and Objectives

To start with, it’s important to outline more precisely the differences between goals and objectives.

Business goals are a broader overview of what that business wishes to achieve. They identify where the company would like to be and what they want to be doing. This will serve as a guiding mantra for staff, especially at the executive and management level and should inform all projects and business decisions. For example, a firm might set one of their business goals as:

  • “To achieve consistent year-on-year revenue growth of at least 10%”.

Business objectives are the individual actions and tasks that will build towards the achievement of the goals of the business. For example, continuing from the previously stated business goal, the objectives used to achieve such growth may be:

  • Expand customer base in order to increase sales”
  • “Scale up production in line with revenue growth”
  • “Improve revenue streams through increasing perceived product value”
  • “Increase marketing budget according to revenue”

Understanding When to Use Goals and Objectives

For business leaders it is important to know when and how to use goals and objectives. The two of these are interlinked and rely on each other to work, without objectives there is no clear path for how a goal will be achieved and without goals, objectives can be contradictory, uncoordinated and without focus.

Though goals are relatively broad in their scope, they should always evolve from a clear business focus and direction. To achieve this and to set effective business goals it is important to approach the process methodically. These are some steps you can use to achieve this:

  • Summon the executive and management structure to exchange views on the most appropriate direction for the company.
  • Negotiate to ensure full support for the specific goals that are chosen.
  • Limit goals to a maximum of three or four.
  • Make sure the language of the goals is short and specific on what needs to be achieved and when it is to be achieved by.

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Once the goals have been established and finalized it is then necessary to create the objectives that will see each goal come to fruition. A useful method for easily creating effective objectives is to use the SMART method, which would mean that they would be:

  • Specific: They should be very clear in what they want to achieve.
  • Measurable: They should state their target in terms of numbers or percentages to define their success.
  • Achievable: They must be realistic as constantly failing to achieve objectives will significantly damage morale and trust in the organization.
  • Relevant: The objectives should have a clear correlation to achieving the business goals.
  • Time-bound: There should be a time limit set as to when the objective should be achieved by.

With clear goals supported by specific and directly linked goals, a business can effectively create and implement a business plan that will deliver the results it wants to achieve.

To make goals and objectives visible and easily accessible for all staff and stakeholders, using a cloud-based project management platform such as Clarizen can be a powerful tool. Get in touch with us to try it out for your business today.

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