How to Write Better Project Objectives
By Kavita JhaveriDec 22, 2019
A project is a piece of work that is undertaken within a timeline. So if there is work, there has to be an end result or outcome. This outcome is also referred to as the objective against which success will be measured.
In broad terms it is essential to distinguish between terms such as vision statement, goal and objective. These fall in the exact hierarchy mentioned – vision is the long term set up plan which bases the foundation and direction of the project, the goal provides the broad context around which the project shall revolve and aligns with the business goals.
The project objective on the other hand are more specific and immediate in nature. To measure the progress made towards achieving an objective, a dashboard can be used as metrics associated with a project are usually charted out prior.
The metrics can be in the form of finance, quality, timelines of the project which are also registered as the KPI of the performer. These tangible well-documented project reach outs are critical to keeping a tab on the project result well within reach.
There needs to be clarity while stating objectives, as at every stage of the project life cycle these need to be adhered to. Only these small steps will assure direction, pace and estimation of remainder resources required.
More importantly, while the vision may be for the management an aspiration to look up to, it is the objective which provides the day-to-day motive for the worker to map his work against. So more the simple and practical terms these are explained in, the better.
Keeping them vague and incomprehensible is only going to create chaos and ultimately affect delay the project. Project managers have to themselves abide and also make their team abide by these objectives.
Why are effective description of objectives Important:
Objectives need to be defined in clear specifications for the simple reason that if these are easily understandable, then they can be executed without much explanation, and the time saved in explanation can be utilized in achieving these regular objectives successfully.
Thus timely objectives give structure to a project and give it validation for success. These objectives are the guiding star or the preamble your project must follow. These act as the guide through every aspect of the project. Expectations of the team are made clear with objectives.
Proven Methods to Write Effective Project Objectives:
Each project objective laid out has to satisfy the SMART criteria. This will ensure that each objective is:
1. Specific: The objectives need to be defined clearly, with elaboration, leaving no scope for misinterpretation. To help you through the matter the objectives can try to address the 5 w’s (who, what, when, where, and why).
2. Measurable: The objectives need to be such that can be quantified so that after execution and performance, it can be evaluated and assessed whether these have been met.
3. Achievable or Attainable: The objectives should be reasonably practical to achieve and set in realistic terms.
4. Real: The objectives should align with the strengths and capacities of the team and overall company goals. Moreover, the project team should believe that the objectives can be met with and feasible to reach.
5. Time-bound: Lastly, the objectives should declare the date or specific time period by which achievement of objectives is desired. Otherwise the project would be considered open-ended with no limits.
Project Objective – An Illustration
Lets say if the goal is to increase the overall customer satisfaction level with the submission of support tickets through the website, then the project objective can be to implement a new online ticketing system by a certain date to achieve ticket response times set within the constraint of an hour.
The above example meets with the SMART criteria as it lays down what needs to be implemented, how is the response time measured, the objective seems reasonably practical, acceptable by team strengths and the deadline to implement the system is also set.
Here are a few tips to help you write effective objectives:
- Write down the objective prior to initiating the project.
- Determine all the requisite objectives in the beginning itself.
- Get second and third opinion as you jot down the project objectives. Assent with the objectives set across the team is crucial for cordial and smooth team performance.
- Keep the objectives as short and precise as possible as this increases the chances of these being read and understood.
- Specific in terms of numbers and achievements instead of listing down a range of options which can only mean to be vague and create confusion.
- Use of simple language rather than jargons shall make the objectives easily comprehensible
- Ensure that the objectives are viable and within the reach and control of the project manager. For things beyond your control does not make any sense to be included in the objectives.
Here are some effective precisely drafted objectives:
Business goal: The goal could be to scale up business in the near term
The objective could be to increase sales of the product by 20% until third quarter of next year.
The business goal could be to increase the satisfaction quotient of existing customers.
The objective is to make the customer happier by 80% through cordial service and focussed training of the customer service team.
For a non-profit, the goal could be to ensure that homeless children have access to three meals a day. This goal can be divided into three sub-objectives:
To identify a kitchen and eating space near a railway station that can feed 30 women by Jan 31st
To hire volunteers who shall oversee the kitchen activities and two chefs who shall prepare these meals requirement wise by Feb 1st.
To gather regular food donated supply for breakfasts and dinners from local organizations by the first week of February.
As we can see that project objectives are a ready reckoner for not only the project manager but also the entire team to refer to. This is applicable not only if you are working waterfall or within the periphery of an agile network.
And don’t forget to align these with the business goals as these objectives are gradually met with one-by-one, the business goal achievement gets nearer and nearer. Achieving these objectives will also instil confidence in the team and their own capabilities shall expand with the morale boost.
For the project to begin it also needs to end, without which it is nothing more than a rudderless ship. Keep in mind though that objectives are communicated well in time along with any deficiency in achievement or modification in the structure.