As reported on KEEPSOLID:
“Project management goals and objectives are key for any business’ success, but what are they exactly, and is there any difference between the two? In this piece, the team of Goals by KeepSolid give you the answers to these questions. We shall also explore PM goal and objective setting, and take a look at some tips and tools.
Defining project management goals
Goals in general are high-level, long-term statements that provide crude direction and overall context, and define the destination that you want to reach. Ditto for project management goals, but through the lens of what the project is trying to achieve. Such goals should align to business goals, as any project within a company has to, in one way or another, help the business reach its overarching targets.
Project management goals are relatively more important than objectives from a business perspective. They help managers understand the business’ priorities that their projects are expected to contribute to.
Key facts about project management goals
Here are some facts to keep in mind when setting project management goals:
Goals being at a high-level means that they can take more than one project to achieve (and a respectively long time). For instance, a goal “increase customer satisfaction levels” may rely on a number of technology and procedure components (employing new customer service apps, adding training classes, reorganizing the support department, changing the company rewards system, etc.) Each of these components is, essentially, a project of its own.
Goals should imply some sort of business benefit, be it in terms of quality, cost, speed, etc. A project might not directly support the business, as long as there’s at least an indirect tie. Example: installing new web servers as part of an IT infrastructure project may ultimately result in a better customer experience. However, there must be at least some business value about the project, or else it should not even be started in the first place.
Most often, goals are non-measurable. Measurable achievements are generally too low in level, and should probably be described as an objective rather than a goal. For further reading, check out our article on the difference between goals and objectives.
Even though goals should be written at a high level, it should not be so high as to render them unachievable. For instance, whereas improving customer experience is achievable, striving for a perfect customer experience is not. The latter would work better as a company’s vision or mission statement (as an aspiration and direction, but not something to actually be achieved).
Defining project management objectives
Compared to goals, objectives are statements of lower level. They describe the specifics – what exactly you’re intending to do, and how, in order to meet your goals. In the context of project management, objectives can describe tangible products, deliverables, or service that the project will deliver. Such objectives should always be connected to specific PM goals – your company shouldn’t develop projects for the sake of developing them.
Project management objectives describe results: tangible, specific deliverables that the project produces. If you can’t say what the deliverables of an objective are, the objective is likely too high-level. By the same token, an objective can be written at too low a level, when it describes the deliverables’ characteristics, functions, or features.
PM objectives are described using metrics and KPIs (product quality, budget, how long it takes to finish, etc.) Tracking progress towards an objective is usually done via a project dashboard, as available in many project planning and management applications, such as Goals by KeepSolid. They allow to streamline and organize the process, reducing the pressure on project managers and risk of human error.
SMART project management objectives
The best way to set project management objectives is by using the SMART approach. According to it, an objective should be:
Specific – well defined and clearly understood.
Measureable – the result of your objective can be measured, so it will be clear when it has been accomplished.
Achievable – considering the resources and the time that your team has available, it should be possible to accomplish your PM objective.
Realistic – objectives must be a reasonable way of proceeding, fit within the broader project.
Time-bound – project management objectives must have a concrete deadline to avoid constant delays.
How Goals by KeepSolid helps achieve project management goals and objectives
Having project management goals and objectives is important. But having proper tools that will help you reach those is vital. And if you decide you’ll be using project planning and management tools anyway, it’s always better to use a single sophisticated solution than a bunch of smaller ones. If you agree, then Goals by KeepSolid is just the software you need to set and organize your project goals and objectives, and actually get to completing them successfully.
Goals by KeepSolid provides a number of compelling features for:
Goals and objectives of a project manager
1. Develop and implement a project’s procedures
Projects, regardless of their size, normally involve five equally important phases:
Planning and Design
Construction and Execution
Monitoring and Control
Smoothly developing and executing these phases is a way to ensure the project’s success.
2. Guide, communicate, and supervise the project’s team
Teamwork is one of the most crucial aspects of a project’s achievement. This makes collaboration the key to success. Establishing good communication plays a vital role, as well. Important information must be articulated in a clear, complete, and unambiguous way to ensure that everyone fully understands it. On the other hand, the project manager’s ability to listen and receive feedback is of equal importance.
3. Achieve the project’s main goal and objectives within the given constraints
Important constraints are as follows:
Being able to stay within these limitations and still finish the project is a sure way to recognize an experienced and successful manager.
4. Optimize allocated necessary inputs
Applying inputs to meet the project’s goals and objectives is a space where improvement is always possible. Procedures and processes can be upgraded and reformed, enhancing the project’s sustainability and driving the team through the process of strategic change.
5. Develop a project that meets the client’s needs and objectives
This can actually come in one of two forms: either the project manager shapes and modifies the client’s vision and objectives into something feasible, or rearranges the available resources to meet the objectives without affecting other projects. Clearly defined client’s aims will impact all decisions by the stakeholders. Meeting those expectations will lead to a successful collaboration and ensure the sustainability of your business.
Importance of effective project management goals and objectives
The main reason why effective project management goals and objectives are important is that they are the adhesive that solidifies and unites your whole organization, directing its efforts towards the common targets. The clearer your goals and objectives are, the more likely your company is to achieve them.
Your project will also be easier to manage with properly set goals and objectives. They offer a way to validate the project’s success, structure it, and guide you through all the aspects and phases of the project. Managers will have clear and straightforward targets to hit, and teams will understand what, and why, is expected of them. In essence, effective project management goals and objectives = more successful projects.
Setting project management goals and objectives
Previously on this blog, we have already discussed the matter of setting business goals and translating goals into daily habits. Today, we’ll focus specifically on a few tips for setting project management goals and objectives specifically.
Questions to ask yourself when setting project goals and objectives:
Why is this project important to your organization, and to you and your team?
What problems and real-life issues will this project solve? What deliverables are expected from this project? Apart from deliverables, what else represents success?
Who are the stakeholders? Who in your team is best for which particular task?
How do various stakeholders’ goals differ? How will you judge the project’s success or failure?
Things to include and avoid in project goals and objectives
Expected outcome. Include the results you wish to achieve as part of a specific target.
Deadlines. Goals and objectives should always have a time period. Even if they met less than 100% of the time, deadlines make the targets more specific, provide a sense of urgency, and hold the team accountable.
Controllable variables. Goals and objectives that include things you can control help motivate your team to complete them. They create a sense of realistic and controllable expectations.
Technical jargon. You want to ensure that everyone understands your goals and objectives, and knows how to act on what’s stated in them. Unclear and overly technical project goals and objectives is the best way to end up with confused employees and a failed project.
Too many options or target ranges. We’ve already mentioned that, as part of the SMART approach, your targets should be specific and measurable. Too many options and target number ranges will lead to your team not knowing what they’re supposed to be doing.
How to set project objectives
Check out our previous article about goal setting in 2020 to learn more about that. As to setting project objectives, it takes 5 steps:
Determine the conditions or systemic behaviors that need to be changed. Certain systematic challenges or employee behaviors may hinder the achievement of a project objective. Monitoring your projects to identify such influences and fix them is a sure way to streamline your projects. It will also show you the project objectives that you should focus on first.
Decide what the project objective’s success would look like. This way you will determine realistic deadlines for it, KPIs or other metrics that will best describe the objective, and the direction in which you and your team should move. One of the ways to define what success means is via a SWOT analysis – by measuring your project’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Describe the focus of the project objective. This can be a group of people, or any part of your business that has an effect on the project – leads, customer surveys, websites, systems, sales, profitability, turnover, etc. The focus will probably be different for each project objective, so be ready to describe details about the different foci.
Identify the location and time frame. In this step, you describe where and when the objective must be completed. Since objectives often require much teamwork and include different departments, they ought to be specific and organized in terms of the location (where the objective will take place, e.g. region or branch) and time frame (deadline of the objective)
Narrow down your project objectives. While a project manager has to consider a lot of information when writing an objective, the resulting objectives themselves should be as narrow and brief as possible. After that, if need be, you can and should include the necessary information in the objective’s description.
Date: 2020 08 13
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