Project Management Guide
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What Are Project Objectives in Project Management?

Project objectives are goals, plain and simple. These are the business objectives that you want the project to accomplish. Within project management, it is of the utmost importance that a project's objectives are stated clearly, as these will impact every decision in the project lifecycle.

Project objectives must be measurable and contain key performance indicators that will be used to assess a project's overall success. These indicators will often include criteria such as budget, quality, and time to completion.

So, what are project objectives in project management? Simply put, they are the specific milestones and achievements that are necessary for accomplishing your project goals.

What to consider when writing your project objectives

Project management objectives serve a very specific purpose. They break down the key steps to achieving overall project success. For example, if your main project goal is to increase customer renewals by 20% year-on-year, your objectives would consist of smaller milestones and key results to service this main goal.

Project objectives also let teams know what they should be focused on, what they should devote resources to, and how their activities serve wider business and organizational goals.

When setting objectives, be sure to avoid vague or confusing language. For example, “Make the business more successful by next year” would not be a good project objective. To write more effective project objectives, team leaders can use the SMART goal-setting framework.

How to write SMART project management objectives

SMART objectives are goals outlined using the SMART goal system. In this framework, SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound. When writing out your project objectives, make sure to tie them into the bigger picture of your project and your business as a whole. 

Your SMART objectives should be concise, realistic, and specific statements that tie into the overall goals of the project or business. They shouldn’t be long-winded, overarching, or unrealistic. 

When writing your project objectives, you can look at what’s realistic based on what was accomplished in previous similar projects. Alternatively, you could check out which KPIs you used last time that you can use to measure results this time around. 

Project objectives examples

Example A: The team will remain under a budget of $5,000 as they complete the marketing campaign set to launch on the 30th day of the month.

  • Specific: Spend under $5,000 to complete the marketing project
  • Measurable: Can be measured by tracking expenses on a shared document
  • Attainable: Because this is a recurring project, we know that it usually costs $4899, so this is achievable
  • Relevant: The marketing campaign supports larger company goals of brand visibility
  • Time-bound: The project will begin on the first of the month and end on the 30th day of the same month

Example B: Process 30% more client requests per quarter by using a project management solution. 

  • Specific: Adopt a project management software that allows us to process more client requests
  • Measurable: Compare our target KPI’s from previous quarters to this one
  • Attainable: Identifying bottlenecks and inefficiencies will help streamline our old processes and receive more client requests
  • Relevant: This will help with client satisfaction, retention, and acquisition — all essential to the business
  • Time-bound: This objective should be ready to assess at the end of the quarter

When you’re ready to implement your project objectives, grab an OKR template and fill in the blanks with actionable steps for you and your team. Create OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) for departments first, then teams, then individuals. Lay them out on a visual timeline or Gantt chart and add due dates to each related task. Add check-ins at regular intervals as changes in progress may result in changes in your SMART objectives, too.

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