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Managing a project involves a wide variety of tangible and intangible components, few, however, are as important as project objectives. Project objectives in project management are the outcomes and deliverables that define the success of your project.

Your project objectives should be clearly stated so as to be easily communicated to both the team and other stakeholders. Here’s how you can make sure that your objectives function as effective goals which can both motivate your team and effectively monitor your progress.

State your objective clearly and concisely

Your project objectives should be outlined in a way that is clearly understood by everyone without any chance of ambiguity. They should also be short enough that they can be easily repeated and remembered. The outline should include what you want to achieve, the metric that will be used for measuring success as well as a specific target value. For example:

  • Year-on-year H2 sales to increase by 25%. That is from $10 million to $12.5 million.
  • New customers in UK operation to average 500 monthly, from January to December.
  • Landing page conversion rate for new campaign to be at least 10%.

Methodologies for setting project objectives

As project objectives in project management are so important, it’s hardly surprising that a lot has been written about how they can be set effectively. Here we’ll take a look at two of the most widely used.

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SMART Objectives

These are easily replicable throughout your team’s processes and as they are so widely known, they are also simple to communicate to others. SMART goals are created by following a simple formula:

  • Specific: This involves describing the objective by answering the questions “what, why, when, who, where” to leave stakeholders in no doubt as to what the goal is.
  • Measurable: An objective should have metrics and specific values that can be used to monitor and assess success.
  • Achievable: Your goals should be something that it is possible for the team to achieve, otherwise they are easily dismissed or can become a point of demotivation.
  • Relevant: Objectives should fit the focus and long-term plan of your organization or team, so that each objective achieved is a step towards overall goals.
  • Time limited: The aim should be to achieve your project objectives within a certain time-frame.

OKR (Objectives and key results)

The OKR framework was initially developed at Intel and is now used by tens of thousands of companies, especially technology giants such as Google, LinkedIn and Oracle. The process of setting OKRs is as follows:

  • Objectives: Highlight 3-5 objectives for your team or organization. These should be ambitious yet also achievable and time-bound.
  • Key Results: Under each of these, highlight 3 results which will define success. These should be easily quantifiable and difficult, at the limits of what you believe is achievable.

Once you have set these, at the end of the set time span you measure how successful you were at achieving each of the Key Results. This is done on a scale of 0-1, with a success rate of 60%-70% being generally viewed as the par score.

Whatever project you’re approaching, having a clear idea of how you are going to set and monitor your project objectives will be key to success. Monitoring your project with these project objectives in mind will give you and your team a clear focus about what the expectations are and what needs to be achieved.


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