The Basics of Project Management Goals and Objectives

Key Takeaways
Discover how setting clear project management goals and objectives can help you streamline your management process and achieve success.
Setting goals can be tricky but having the right objectives can smooth this process for you.
Setting goals can be tricky but having the right objectives can smooth this process for you.

Most of us have experienced personally setting goals and objectives in our lives.

Remember those new year’s resolutions you set around the new year? Or maybe when you’d just started your new job? Or when you took your first step inside your dream house?

You’ve already mapped out the things you want to achieve and then begun taking down notes or making checklists identifying the things you can do on a daily basis to get you closer to your specific goal. That’s the same thing you do when managing a project.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the basics of setting goals and objectives, and provide you with tips that will ease your panic and anxiety when it comes to optimizing the project management processes.

Definition of Project Management Goals and Objectives

Project Goals: How to Establish One?
Project Goals: How to Establish One?

What is a goal in project management?

A project management goal is set to determine your destination.

Will your agency be richer by a million bucks?

Will you be able to have a thousand more clients by the end of the year?

Maybe implement a new process of knowing who scrolls on social media while on the clock?

Project goals are statements that tell you what you need to have accomplished by the end of the project. They are created in alignment with a company’s priorities and general business targets.

What are project management objectives?

Project objectives, on the other hand, are concrete steps that are necessary for a project’s success.

So, for your agency to be a million dollars richer, you should:

Increase your team’s monthly output by 30%.

Increase your quarterly sales from $200,000 to $250,000.

Increase the number of clients by tapping new markets during sales campaigns.

The above project management objectives are specific tasks that lead to achieving an overall goal.

With these examples of project goals and objectives, you can now set your own.

The question you may be asking is…do you have to?

Why Setting Goals and Objectives Is Important in Project Management

We need to set project management goals and objectives because it is beneficial for the project managers, employee needs, and the project as a whole.

For the project manager:

Enhance project management abilities

  • One of the top benefits of setting your project management goals and objectives is to improve the performance necessary to fulfill project manager roles. It keeps you up-to-date and ready to take on project challenges to complete projects. New goals are crucial for first-hand learning and improvement to hone project management skills.
  • Focus on securing the project’s success.
  • A project manager becomes more aware of the limitations and risks of a project with objectives and goal-setting. Goals enable them to handle multiple projects while controlling and maintaining project boundaries.

For the project team:

Strengthen the team with the following tips.

Boost morale.

  • Goals and objectives are set to motivate team members and boost employee satisfaction. When they know what the purpose of their work is, team members are more engaged which may lead to improving their overall productivity. By the end of the project, you will have happier and more satisfied workers.

Strengthen teamwork.

  • A project can be a struggle to complete on your own. Complex ones need specialists, consultants, and members from other departments and without something holding them together, your project is doomed to fail.
  • Goals and objectives not only strengthen teamwork but also develop team collaboration and build a support system within the organization, which ultimately streamlines a project’s success.

For the project:

Prevent scope creep in project management

  • Scope creep is like a disease; you won’t know it’s there unless you see the symptoms creeping in. Having objectives reduces the risk of scope creep.

Manage stakeholder’s expectations

  • Stakeholders can be assured that they are on the same page as the whole project team when objectives are clearly communicated in a goal statement. You can build trust and a good reputation with key persons involved in the project.

Monitor the project’s progress

  • Setting goals and objectives is essential in keeping track of your project.

How will you know that you are still on track?

By using relevant metrics to measure progress regularly, you can safely say that you are still within your scope and even have access to a quick assessment of how the project is coming along.

What’s the Difference?

We’ve already defined project goals and objectives but what are their differences?

A project goal is focused on the end result that the organization is trying to fulfill. The project management goal-setting process begins during the planning stage when the project manager outlines what the project wants to achieve.

A project objective, on the other hand, is more detailed and supports the project’s aims. Defining project objectives is also part of the initiation phase. After setting goals, proper structuring of objectives helps to establish the project plan, scope, budget, timeframe, and resources you need to produce the project’s deliverables.

In project management, the goals and objectives you create should always be connected to each other and you cannot have one without the other. Goals and objectives can be geared towards answering a need, modifying a process, or working on an opportunity depending on what the business is aiming for.

Project objectives and goals also have different types and characteristics.

Types of Project Management Goals and Objectives

Timeline: Short-term vs. long-term

Short-term goals are easier to achieve. They are also focused on resolving the current situation or grabbing opportunities that are presented at the moment. Because these take up fewer resources and less time to do, you can work on multiple short-term goals at once and nail them all!

Long-term goals are the opposite of short-term ones in difficulty, resources spent, and amount of time and effort. They are forward-focused, support the agency’s visions, and are often strategic. Goals that are longer tend to be more complex, but they are more flexible because of the time span allocated to accomplishing them.

Metrics: Three Primary Goals of Project Management

1. Time-bound

These are goals that need to be achieved within a certain period. They are not modifiable because of the fixed duration they have. Time-bound goals often address urgent matters and tend to have shorter deadlines to meet.

2. Outcome-centered

These targets are results-based and for teams that are focused on the final delivery of a product or service. Outcome-centered goals are also called ‘number-based’ because of their detailed end result like gaining 150k followers, selling $10,000 worth of products, or decreasing employee turnover rate by 50%.

3. Process-oriented

These are goals that help in improving the efficiency of the project manager, team, and the project processes involved in completing the project. They are often qualitative in nature and depend on the doer’s control including performance and effectiveness. Among the three types, process-oriented goals are most of the time the most achievable.

Set up strategic and tactical objectives for the team.

Strategic vs. tactical objectives

Strategic objectives are defined steps to answer your organizational strategies. They require a strategic understanding of what you envision 1-5 years from now and connect them with your strategic goals.

These form the basis of what your course of action should be and are broken down into smaller chunks of tasks that make them easier for project managers to oversee and for teams to work on.

Tactical objectives, on the other hand, are addressed immediately and are often focused on day-to-day tasks. Achieving these objectives helps promote employee engagement and accountability. These objectives provide a great way to test team members on their time management, adaptability, and prioritization skills.

Roadmap: Best Practices for Setting Project Management Goals and Objectives

Goals and objectives must be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound to tailor-fit the desired outcome. By establishing SMART goals, you can prevent inaccurate assumptions, workflow uncertainties, and ‘guesstimates’ that can lead to overall task failure.

Use SMART objectives as your roadmap to success.

A SMART goal focused on an agency’s customer service looks like this:

The customer service team will find ways to increase the quarterly client satisfaction rate from 20% to 25% by the end of June 2023 which will translate to future upward sales revenue.

SMART objectives that support this goal may include:

  • CRM database software upgrade and equipping support staff with equivalent training
  • Increase website and mobile app uptime by at least 95%
  • Obtain positive results from client feedback surveys
  • Reduce the number of unresolved hotline concerns and negative reviews by at least 80%
  • Follow up and update the status of customer complaints

Both the goal and list of objectives specify what needs to be accomplished and who will be responsible, how it will be measured and achieved, its relevance to the agency’s vision, and the time given to reach it.

Tips for Setting Realistic and Meaningful Goals and Objectives

Now that you know what SMART goals are, here are some tips on how to set attainable goals and objectives for your agency.

Aligning goals and objectives with project scope, stakeholders, and resources

These should not only align with the company’s mission statement but also with the available resources, project scope, and people doing or funding the project.

It may be tedious to update and communicate with project sponsors, key stakeholders, and team members but helping them to understand these factors ensures seamless completion and gives you access to more opportunities for upcoming endeavors.

Transparency: Monitoring and evaluating project management goals and objectives

Lead the team by supporting them.

Weekly team meetings and review meetings with senior stakeholders help execute high-impact projects. Check-ins on the milestones can range from weekly to yearly depending on the longevity and complexity of your task.

Aside from keeping an eye on implementing goals and objectives, you can also grab hold of those old performance reports.

Wait, what? First, just hear me out.

When project managers assess and compare old performance reports with new ones, relevant risks are mitigated, potential pitfalls can be avoided, and there’s awareness of upcoming applicable bottlenecks. By evaluating what has been previously learned and discovered from past experience, they can contribute towards improvement.

Tracking progress and making adjustments

Completing projects requires adjusting and adapting to what is necessary to be one step closer to achieving set goals and objectives. Provided that ample time is on your side, team members should be flexible enough to make necessary changes, and document them to avoid scope creep.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) can also aid in tracking progress and allow you to measure effectiveness and efficiency while tracing who is doing what at present. Keep in mind though, that newly executed processes will need more attention compared to other projects with lesser adjustments implemented.

Communicating with team members and stakeholders

Did you know that constant communication with all the people involved in the project leads to higher chances of meeting deadlines, and hitting project team goals? Studies show that teams that are well-informed about their functions and purpose become 25% more productive, contributing to a higher chance of meeting set project goals and objectives.

Communication is the key to great teamwork.

Using appropriate tech stacks like project management, resource, and productivity tools can also help each team member follow a standardized process for individual tasks, monitor where everyone’s at, discuss details in real time, and reduce unnecessary costs of paperwork.

Start Crafting Your Own Project Goals and Objectives!

Setting goals and objectives for project management can be overwhelming. Without properly defining them, you might end up with very generic ones which can lead to confusion about how to achieve them.

Here’s a quick recap:

  • For team members, goals and objectives are important to support increasing the team’s productivity, and professional development, and help achieve their own personal goals.
  • For the stakeholders, having project objectives and goals provide continuous improvement of business knowledge, and soft skills, and moves a step closer to reaching their professional goals.
  • A project goal defines what should be the outcome while a project objective is how you can get there.
  • Well-defined project management objectives and goals follow the SMART criteria: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
  • Strategic and tactical project objectives in project management are both purpose-focused. While strategic objectives open up future new projects, tactical objectives resolve current situational needs.

Make sure your goals and objectives are aligned with your business. Not sure if you’re still doubting if you are doing it right? With ScaleTime’s Free Operations Assessment, we’ll help you discover how you can maximize your organization’s potential. Complete our Project Management Checklist today!

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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