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6 Tips on How to Define Project Goals and Objectives

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6 Tips on How to Define Project Goals and Objectives

6 Tips on How to Define Project Goals and Objectives

A post from our Project Management blog

Article author: Jordan James
      Written by Jordan James
The success of any project largely depends on the goals and objectives that you set for yourself and your team. So, it is of utmost importance that you always define these goals first whenever you're about to start a new project.

Set a Target

But how do you do that exactly and what is it that you need to pay attention to? To give you some ideas, here are 6 quick tips on how to define project goals and objectives.

1) Understand the meaning of goals and objectives

Luckily, the dictionary has a set of definitions for the terms goals and objectives. Unfortunately, however, the practical implications of these definitions far surpass the actual meaning of the two words. So, let's set our own explanation before we move on to anything else.

A goal is a broader, generic term; it is the light beyond the tunnel, so to speak. Your aim is to reach this goal, the light. The objectives are the various methods and strategies that you adopt in order to reach the goal that you have set for yourself and your team.

2) Think about the purpose of the project

A clear understanding of the meaning of these two terms brings us to the next step of our journey; an appraisal of the purpose of the project itself. Defining this purpose will help you to set your objectives meaningfully. (If you need some help with this, the University of Warwick has a great article on defining your project.)

Now that you know your goal, you can define your objectives more easily. The ‘what' regulates the ‘how' and that is exactly what you need to do in this step of your project planning.

3) Review your objectives

A vision and a goal are abstract concepts but you will need to build concrete steps to reach that dream. Now that you have defined your objectives to reach your goal, take a look at them in more detail. Are these objectives economically viable? Will these help you reach your goals in the most effective way?

Be practical and realistic about the steps that you have constructed; make sure that you do not lose out on your profits or advantages with the objectives that you have outlined.

4) Be flexible

One very important quality that project leaders need to possess is the ability to be flexible. With each passing phase, you may need to modify or restructure your objectives. You may also need to implement new methods and discard some already defined tactics.

Don't feel disheartened if your strategies don't work out at the first go. Theory and practice are often far from each other. Customise your mind-set to allow digressions and hurdles, and you have moved a step ahead in your path. But remember; never lose sight of your goal.

Keep Target in Sight


SMART goal setting is one of the best and most effective tools for achieving your goals, so whenever you're planning a project, always remember to set SMART goals for yourself. SMART is an acronym which stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time bound.

If you need some help on how to go about setting SMART goals, Mind Tools has posted a useful guide here.

6) Collaborate

You may be the leader of your project but you can't make the journey alone. After all, a team - and the way team members work together - can make or break a project, so developing an effective project team should be one of the main responsibilities of a project manager. In order to achieve your goals and ensure the success of your project, always remember to collaborate with your team members and take in their valuable suggestions.

Do you have any other tips on how to define project goals and objectives that you think belong on this list? Let us know in the comments!

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