Achieving Clarity and Success: Setting Strategic Project Management Goals

Key Takeaways
Master strategic project management goals to drive team alignment and project success. Explore key techniques and tools.
Setting goals makes work boredom disappear.
Setting goals makes work boredom disappear.

Setting goals is tremendously helpful, especially with work. At least, the thought of doing so sounds so meaningful and critical.

Picture this. You're planning a long-anticipated trip to a different country. There's so much you'd like to do that your head is about to explode with excitement just thinking about it. With that also comes the realization that there's so much to do, and very likely, some of the excitement wanes.

At this point, what you need to do is make sense of your desired outcome, and the trip's goal and work your way backward to figure out what you need to do to achieve that result.

The same principles for setting strategic goals for your vacation apply to managing work projects. Without set goals, it is impossible to complete projects successfully as there is no way to measure progress or what counts as success.

By the end of this article, you will understand the need for professional goals and their impact on your project's outcome, how to define project scope to set goals, how to create a project plan and implement it, and how to monitor the goals for continuous improvement.

What Is the Importance of Project Management Goals and Objectives?

An efficient management system involves different components to set realistic goals.
An efficient management system involves different components to set realistic goals.

Before answering the question of the importance of goals in project management, we must first answer this: What is the goal of project management for a business? Or for anything, really. We employ project management to plan, manage, and guide a project to completion using available resources.

For this plan of efficient project management to work, we must understand what we plan to achieve with the exercise. This is where the goal of project management comes in—to define what the team requires to meet the goals of each project they embark on.

Some examples of project management goals include client/customer satisfaction, resource management, professional advancement, eliminating scope creep, risk mitigation, and budget control. These project management goals, and others that exist, help with goal setting for project managers.

Understanding the Components of Effective Project Goals

The word "goal" is used often in the professional space. Here, we like to prefix SMART to the word for a more concise definition of the term as relates to project management. It is a framework that is sure to improve your team's efficiency in setting and achieving project goals.

SMART project management goals are a great way to ensure your new project is on track as they provide a foundation for you to go from the project initiation phase to closing the project.


It is your role as a project manager to refine the ideas of stakeholders and team members to gain clarity on the objectives, and use that insight to set a specific goal for the project at hand. This specificity ensures everyone understands the project's direction and what success looks like.


Goals are only useful when evaluating progress and determining how to move forward until completion. After you have defined the project objective, set KPIs in place for tracking progress so that members of your project team can see how their work impacts the project's success. You will find that employee satisfaction and motivation improve significantly as they check action items off the project tasks list.


Your goals are achievable when you have or can obtain the tools and resources needed for project execution. They're also achievable when there is a precedent. This does not mean you embark on a novel project, rather, you must understand the difference between challenging yourself and setting unrealistic projects.


This brings us to our fourth point – relevance. Businesses run for profit and by extension, every project they embark on. As a result, the goals you set for your project should be relevant to the vision the business had when approving the project. Otherwise, those goals have no place as they fulfill no purpose and new goals must be set.


"Time is money," they say. This is especially true for project sponsors who have expectations. You can't keep hanging indefinitely. As a project manager, proper time management is a great asset to your team as it helps set the pace and can provide ways to track team productivity and progress across the project.

The Role of Vision in Project Management Goals

Vision has been defined by many as being a picture, a thing of sight. However, in project management, a vision entails giving the project hands and legs to walk around; and to move. It certainly starts with seeing it, but it speaks more to embodying the vision.

A vision gives life to the project, connects the stakeholders to the project at hand, addresses concerns, highlights benefits, and how it all impacts the organization at large. This allows everyone to be able to connect with the project and run with it.

Picture this. Your team of seven wishes to organize an anniversary party for your company. That is the project at hand, however, let's say the business's vision is to foster an environment of diversity and inclusivity.

As the project manager, your knowledge and understanding of this vision have already set you on track as you start asking questions like, "How do we want to achieve/push towards developing a culture of diversity and inclusion with this project (the anniversary party)?" Within these parameters, the team can begin to set strategic objectives. They can achieve those relevant to the vision before the party.

During project planning, the team creates a goal statement, sets measurable targets, creates a standardized process, outlines specific tasks needed to complete the project, and assigns work across the team. As you work through the project, you discuss the project status during your weekly team meetings while keeping the vision in sight.

At this point, you can already see how the company's vision could set a direction for your project. Now, you have a new process that can help plan future projects geared towards achieving the vision.

Some Techniques for Setting Strategic Goals

Now you know the importance of setting strategic goals and have a basic understanding of what counts as a strategic, SMART goal. Still, the big question remains, "How do I start?"

Luckily, many frameworks such as SWOT analysis, backward planning, EOS rocks, and KPI pyramids exist. You can pick one or mix and match to get started setting strategic goals. As you read along, you will find how each of these techniques impacts your process to refine and align your objectives with the company vision and any other broad objectives the team has.

SWOT analysis

You're likely familiar with the term SWOT, standing for Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat. This process proves especially useful for refining shared goals. At the end of this exercise, you will find yourself with more context as to where you are headed and how to get there. This is how it works:

  • Identify Strengths: These strengths could be those of individual team members or other resources that give you a competitive advantage. List these strengths and how they serve to ease things for what is being planned.
  • Analyze Weaknesses: With strengths, come weaknesses. These could be skill gaps, faulty tools, or any other internal factor that could pose challenges to reaching the objectives. After you have identified and analyzed these weaknesses, you can now create plans to remove or deal with them.
  • Explore Opportunities: Opportunities are external factors that can contribute towards the successful completion of your projects. Take some time to research potential opportunities and find ways to maximize them for the best results.
  • Mitigate Threats: These are similar to weaknesses but are based on external conditions outside your control. They could be market volatility, competitors, government policies, or even legal issues. You won't always know all the possible threats, however, you can plan and practice flexibility and risk management to limit their impact if/when they occur.

Backward planning

As the name implies, this technique involves starting from what success looks like at the end and working your way back to the start. This process mentally prepares the team for success and can be motivating. Plus, it helps to identify milestones. Here are four steps to practice backward planning.

  • Define the final goal and due date.
  • Identify the milestone (and its due date) that marks its success.
  • Work back and identify the tasks you need to complete to achieve the milestone.
  • Repeat this process until you're at the current point of planning.

KPI pyramid

Mastering the KPI pyramid is key to always achieving goals, no matter if it's short or long term.
Mastering the KPI pyramid is key to always achieving goals, no matter if it's short or long term.

The KPI pyramid is a four-level framework for prioritizing and structuring project metrics. The levels include Vision, Objectives, Key Results, and Key Performance Indicators – KPIs. Each of these levels represents an aspect of the success criteria, from the long-term vision to the short-term actions performed to achieve it.

  • Level One—Vision: This answers the question of why the business is initializing the project.
  • Level One—Objectives: Set objectives that align with the vision, reflecting the value you want to deliver, that is, what you are doing.
  • Level One—Key Results: Use the SMART framework to identify key results.
  • Level Four—KPI: Your KPIs should be relevant to your objectives, should be actionable, and must be easy to measure or understand.

Implement Goals for Maximum Impact

Implementation is where you test out tools and strategies to help reach your goals.
Implementation is where you test out tools and strategies to help reach your goals.

Your goals are ready, your team is on standby and it's time to get your project in full swing. In come project management tools and workflow software to aid project goals' tracking and team management. There are many of them, each with different features which you can look through to decide what works for your team.

Even better, most of these tools now employ AI features to improve their effectiveness. Now your team can be more efficient than ever. Below are some top tools you can use to achieve the goals of project management.


Asana is a user-friendly tool used to manage complex problems. Useful features of Asana to help you implement project management goals include collaboration, customizable workflows, easy integration with other tools, and automated task management. It also offers flexible project views that you can use to make informed decisions.


ClickUp offers users robust project and data management. It allows for collaboration between teams and departments and supports integrations with many tools like Zendesk, GitHub, and Slack. It is especially versatile, helping you replace many tools to manage teamwork in a central place and limit context-switching across tools.

Tools like make Mondays a lot less difficult for project managers. Like Asana, it has customizable workflows and integrates with other apps. More than that, it has time-tracking features and can be used to manage multiple projects with ease. Monday's AI feature provides insight into projects' status and performance.

Atlassian tools: Jira and Trello

These Atlassian management tools are cloud-based and serve different uses for a business. Jira is tailored for agile software development teams to implement and track goals. Trello on the other hand is a Kanban board useful for all teams to brainstorm and track processes. It offers great ease of use with simple cards you can move across the board to show progress while Jira offers more flexibility for more complex/larger teams.

5 Useful Goals of a Project Manager

A project management system makes the workload lighter to carry for project managers.
A project management system makes the workload lighter to carry for project managers.

For the best results, you need to set goals for project management alongside the project goals. These project management objectives highlight what's important for the team to work towards for the effective completion of the actual project goals. If you've ever found yourself asking "What are the goals of a project manager," here's a list of performance goals and objectives for project managers that you can adopt.

Increase the team's productivity

Improving team productivity can be a short to long-term goal. To achieve it, you must first perform a retrospective. You can start by looking through old performance reports and identifying areas of low performance. Some places to look include the team's pace, workload, and each individual's work style.

With the insight you get from your retrospective, you can start implementing changes to better manage the time and skills you have to obtain optimal results. For instance, you can introduce the use of time trackers, daily async standups for teammates to set daily goals and hold themselves accountable, and even automate repeatable tasks that reduce efficiency.

Build soft skills

One of the goals project management might not highlight at a glance is the need for soft skills. However, in truth, you will find that they are vital to every project's success as these projects involve humans. Some soft skills you need include are leadership, stakeholder management, and communication. Leadership development is especially important since you are responsible for moving the team in the right direction.

With these soft skills, you can build and maintain relationships with stakeholders and teammates, manage conflict, and keep the team motivated throughout the project.

Implement flexibility and risk management

Flexibility is a must-have management skill. You can remain proactive and flexible from the start by identifying potential risks and planning for them. A good way to do this is to evaluate previous projects and put together a list of risks or potential risks that could have impacted the project and how they were curtailed. This exercise will help bring insight into the next steps you can take for the current project.

Also, ensure you conduct this risk assessment across each phase of the project you approach and manage them accordingly.  

Understand the company's vision

You will handle multiple projects in the two years or more that you spend at a company and all of them should align with the company's vision to justify their existence. To understand the company's vision, you can try reaching out to other departments to know what they are working on and why, read up on the company's culture, and speak with long-term staff.

The information you get from these different endeavors is likely to set you on the right path and give you clarity on how to align your project and project management goals with the company's vision.

Improve project processes

Processes are the stages a project undergoes. They almost always include initiation, planning, executing, and closing. However, the fine details of what goes into these different stages depend on the industry, the product/service to be built, and the methodology in use.

The more projects you work on, the more opportunity you'll have to try different processes and continue refining them until you have different frameworks that work best for different project types. The objective to improve processes is vital to your work as having standardized processes saves you a lot of time that will typically be spent on groundwork, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your project that need streamlining.

Always Monitor Progress and Adjust Goals

Always keep your ongoing tasks and strategies in check.
Always keep your ongoing tasks and strategies in check.

While things are more streamlined as you complete tasks and steadily make your way to the end, that is not the end of your work. Your project manager's goals and objectives at this point should revolve around reviewing progress and ensuring that things are still on the right track to the set goals.

Chances are that as the project progresses and you keep communication between stakeholders and teammates, the project goals will also evolve. This evolution could be due to new challenges, or simply because new ideas for improvement came along as the work gains a life of its own.

Whatever the reason for the need to adjust the objectives, it is best to have a process in place for implementing these adjustments, so they don't impede work or mess with the deadline. Here's how you can adjust your project goals:

  1. Assess the situation: Learn what changed and why. Here, you determine the impact of this change on your goals. What new opportunities, threats, or challenges have come up with this change? Do they conflate/conflict with previous goals? After a thorough assessment, go ahead and communicate the changes with the team. This helps foster trust and transparency and ensures everyone is on the same page as to project status.
  2. Review your goals: With the team's help, go ahead to modify the goals. Be sure to use a good framework in this process so you can add and drop them accordingly and make changes to the timeline and budget as needed.
  3. Monitor and evaluate progress: Now you are back to the same spot, except you are monitoring the new goals and how their implementation affects a pre-existing process.

Do this as many times as needed until you complete the project. Be sure to celebrate your achievements with your team. You've come a long way to this point and need to let them know you appreciate the work they've done. Savor the sweet taste of success!


A project with step-by-step goals always wins by hitting the target every time.
A project with step-by-step goals always wins by hitting the target every time.

Goals are the pathway to clarity of purpose and success for every project. Here are some quick points to remember as you consider the project management goals to set for your business.

  • The goal of a project manager is to set smart objectives right from the planning stage, establish clear communication and team collaboration, manage tasks, and make strategic decisions to eliminate potential risks.
  • Project management goals are different from goals for project managers, and both are different from project goals. Still, the three are vital to achieving project success and for long-term business growth.
  • Project goals are reliant on the business's vision. Always keep this in mind as you work on new objectives for your current or future projects.
  • Always use a reliable technique to create your project and project management goals. You can try your hand at different frameworks and refine your approach with each goal you set until you become a SMART goal guru.

Do you think you have your goals down but are worried your project management process still needs refining? Download our project management checklist to gain the confidence you need to achieve your project management goals.

Business operations consultant Juliana Marulanda
Juliana Marulanda - ScaleTime Founder
Juliana Marulanda is a business operations expert, speaker, and the founder of ScaleTime. With over 20 years of experience across Wall Street, the non-profit sector, technology startups, and family-owned businesses, she now helps service-based businesses.
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