What are project objectives? (And how to write them)

A project objective states the aim of a project. It tells us what the project team wants to accomplish.

What are project objectives?

A project objective states the aim of a project. It tells us what the project team wants to accomplish.

Some projects have just one project objective; others have several objectives that could be completed at various times during the project.

The objectives of a project are often written up into an objective statement. A project’s objective statement should contain all the objectives for the project.

Project objectives are a practical tool, not a motivational aid. They should be limited to the parameters of the project itself, rather than describing the higher mission of the organization.

How to write project objectives

Project objectives should be written during the planning phase of a project.

Writing project objectives is usually done collaboratively by the project manager, senior stakeholders, and team members who will deliver the project. Usually, the senior stakeholders will champion the corporate aims of the organization, while team members will provide their own ideas and input on their areas of specialism. It’s the project manager’s job to collate everyone’s input and write project objectives that represent the team as a whole.

Project objectives need to be effective project management objectives, too. As well as defining the project’s aims, they need to fit the project management process.

One framework that helps with writing effective project objectives is SMART goal-setting, which states that goals should be:

  • Specific – the project objective should be detailed and unambiguous.

  • Measurable – it should specify how success will be measured.

  • Attainable – the objective should be realistic.

  • Relevant – it also needs to be relevant to the brand and aims of the organization.

  • Time-limited – and there needs to be a deadline.

By accounting for all five components of SMART, we can write practical, effective project objectives that suit the project management process.

Examples of project objectives

Project objective of an app developer who is going to launch a new app:

Our project team will launch our new recipe app for Android and iOS on those OS’s app stores by the start of Q2 2021.

This is a great example of a measurable objective. The team will know the objective has been achieved, because attainment of the goal is linked to specific events – the launch of the app on Android and iOS’s app stores. Progress towards the objective can be linked to milestones towards launch of the app.

Project objective of a retailer opening a new branch:

Our project team will fully prepare our new Buenos Aires branch for its opening on 31 September. The branch must meet our in-store customer experience specifications by 30 September.

Change to project objectives

Sometimes, a project’s objectives must change during the project’s lifecycle, due to new information or situational change. Such changes should be reflected in a change to the baseline project plan.

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