How to Write Successful Project Objectives in 3 Simple Steps
How to Write Successful Project Objectives
Project objectives are a key element of project management.
There are a few reasons. They make sure that you hit your deliverables on time and within budget. They also give your team something to work towards, keeping them motivated and accountable for their work.
But creating successful project objectives is easier said than done.
If you want to reap all the benefits, you need to make sure your project objectives meet certain criteria. Luckily for you, that’s what we’re going to cover in this article.
So keep reading to find out how to write project objectives in three simple steps. We’ll also walk you through the benefits of using a work management platform to create and track your objectives.
But first, let’s start from the top: What are project objectives?
What Are Project Objectives?
Simply put, project objectives outline the aim of the project. They illustrate what you should achieve by the end of the project and how to measure project success.
To yield the best results, project objectives should be created using the SMART goals framework. This means all your objectives will be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound (more on this later).
So how many project objectives should you have?
Truth be told, it’s up to you. Projects can have a single overall objective or multiple objectives that can be completed at different stages throughout the project (sort of like milestones). It really depends on the type of project you’re working on and what you want to achieve.
No matter how many project objectives you have, they need to be clear and measurable. They must also align with key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess the project’s overall success.
The objectives are often written up in a project vision statement, which clearly outlines your project objectives and why they’re in place. The statement includes all the project objectives along with the reasoning behind why your project is happening in the first place.
Why Are Project Objectives Important?
Let’s take a look at some of the main reasons why project objectives are vital for project success.
Improve Your Time Management
With project management objectives in place, it’s easy to see if you’re on track to get the project delivered on time.
For instance, let’s say your objective is to increase website traffic by 10% over the next quarter. By month three, you’ve increased traffic by 8%.
This tells you that you’re on track to reach the objective and complete the project on time.
Now imagine that you’ve only increased traffic by 4% during the same time period. With this progress, it’s pretty unlikely you’ll achieve the desired result.
Fortunately for you, you’ve spotted the delay just in time to put things right. You can adjust your priorities and spend your time trying to reach your objective.
And that’s how project objectives can help you with time management.
If you know what you have to achieve by the due date to hit your objectives, you can make sure that you focus on getting those tasks done. It helps you prioritize your time to be as efficient and productive as possible.
Measure the Success of Your Projects
As we’ve already mentioned, all project objectives must be measurable. After all, without measurables in place, how will you know when you’ve hit your objective?
With quantifiable objectives in place, you can effectively measure and reflect on the success of your projects. You can see what went well and why which gives you helpful information about setting project objectives in the future.
Along with measuring success, project objectives also help you identify areas of improvement.
Think about it. When your project is over, you can use the objectives to see if you’ve achieved what you wanted. If things didn’t go to plan and you didn’t reach your objective, you can review the result of the project and find out why.
This helps you make better decisions in the future, allowing you to create more realistic project plans in the future.
Motivate Your Team
Psychological studies have shown time and time again that goal setting motivates people to perform better. Even studies as far back as 1968 have found that goals produce a higher level of performance (check out this article for more information).
Studies also show that the more specific the objective, the more motivation your employees will have.
So there’s no denying it. Having project objectives motivates your team to work harder and be accountable for their actions.
It gives them something to work towards and keeps them accountable for their actions. All of this helps your team work harder towards achieving business goals and reaching your project objectives.
How to Write Successful Project Objectives in 3 Simple Steps
Creating successful project objectives is easier said than done.
To give your objectives the best chance of success, there’s a lot of thought and preparation that needs to take place. You need to know what you want to achieve, why you want to achieve it, and how to achieve it.
And if your objectives don’t align with the overall business strategy, your projects are less likely to help your business succeed. And isn’t that kind of the point of doing the project in the first place?
But don’t worry. Although there’s a lot to think about, we’ve condensed it down into three simple steps. Follow our advice, and you’ll be on your way to creating effective project objectives.
Start With a Project Vision Statement
First things first, you should start by creating a project vision statement.
This statement serves as a top-level overview of why the project is taking place and what you hope to achieve. It helps inform your strategy and makes sure that all activity is aligned with the overall project.
If you’ve never created a project vision statement before, don’t worry. Take a look at this example:
Project vision statement: To streamline our end-to-end IT support for businesses around the US.
The statement clearly outlines why the project is happening (to offer streamlined, high-quality IT support) and what the outcome should be (a smooth and flawless customer experience). It doesn’t include measurables or specifics.
Think of it as a guide that helps you keep your objectives aligned and relevant to the purpose of the project.
Outline Your Project Goals
Before we walk you through how to create successful project goals, let’s clarify the difference between goals and objectives.
That’s right — project goals and objectives aren’t the same thing.
A lot of teams use the phrases interchangeably, but there’s a key difference.
Project objectives are specific to certain parts of the project. They provide measurable and specific deliverables for team members to work towards.
Project goals provide direction for the project, making sure that all project activity is in line with the business strategy.
Here’s an example of a project goal and objective to illustrate the difference:
Find out more about the difference between goals and objectives in this article.
So how do you figure out what your project goals should be?
When it comes to creating your project goals, think about the bigger picture. Your goals (or goal — you don’t have to have more than one) should make sure that the project aligns with the overall business strategy.
For example, let’s say a KPI from your business strategy is to expand into a new marketplace. Your project goal might be to target a new audience via social media.
So keep your business strategy in mind while creating your goals. This will make sure that all project objectives feed into the overall success of the business.
Create Your Specific Objectives
You’ve got your project vision statement finalized and your project goals in place. Now, it’s time to create your project objectives.
To do this, we’d suggest using SMART objectives. If you’re not familiar with it, the SMART framework is a goal-setting tool. It helps businesses create achievable, realistic, and clear objectives.
Here’s a breakdown of the framework and what the acronym means:
By using this framework, your objectives will be well-defined, trackable, and aligned with your project goals. They’ll also be clear and concise, leaving no room for misinterpretation. Everyone working on the project will know the objectives and metrics for reviewing their success.
Once the project is live, you’ll need to track project progress to make sure your objectives are met.
A great way to track project progress in real-time is to use a work management platform like SmartSuite. With our platform, you can create, implement, and track your project objectives with real-time progress.
You can even create a custom dashboard to view all the vital project information on one screen.
If you want to give SmartSuite a try, you can sign up for a free 14-day trial.
Using Work Management Software to Create and Monitor Project Objectives
Using work management software can take a weight off your shoulders when it comes to project objectives.
With the right platform, you can create, execute, and monitor your project objectives with ease, especially because most work management platforms (including SmartSuite) have a lot of the features of project management software.
It sounds too good to be true, but we promise it’s not. Take a look at some of these work management features to see for yourself.
Track Project Progress in Real-Time
If you have access to a cloud-based platform, everyone on your team can access projects in real-time. Whether they’re on the road, working from home, or in the office — everybody can see how the project is going and whether they’re on track to hit key objectives.
Without real-time insights, you could be looking at an out-of-date version of the project. And if you’re not looking at the most up-to-date version, you won’t have a clear picture of how the project is progressing.
To know if you’re actually on track to reach your objectives, you need to have real-time access to your project.
Review Project Activity
Didn’t reach your objective?
To figure out what went wrong, taking a look at your activity history is a good place to start.
With a work management platform, you can automatically track every action throughout the project. You can easily see every update, change, and deadline.
And if you use SmartSuite, you can also filter the activity history.
Looking for all the actions completed on a certain date? Not a problem. Apply the filter, and you’ll see exactly what you want.
Easily Communicate Objectives With Your Team
Work management platforms help teams collaborate better. They allow you to share files, add integrations from external platforms, and work together on projects — whether you’re working in the office or remotely.
All of these collaborative features make it easier for project leaders to share project objectives with the rest of the team (and any other project stakeholders who might need to be kept in the loop).
Take a look at SmartSuite, for example. With our platform, you can send files and documents via direct messages and comments.
And with SmartSuite, you can easily organize files within the platform. As a result, there’s no confusion about where certain information (such as your project objectives) is stored.
Everyone has access to all the information in one location and can easily refer back to the objectives throughout the project.
Create Your Project Objectives With SmartSuite
So there you have it. You now know what project objectives are, why they’re important, and how to create your own.
If you’re thinking about using a work management platform to manage your project objectives, take a look at SmartSuite. Our platform is easy to use, intuitive, and it’ll help you keep on top of your workflows from start to finish — including your project objectives.
To see if we’re a good fit for your business, sign up for a free 14-day trial today.