How To Set Realistic Project Goals (And Mistakes To Avoid)
Project goals exist for a reason.
These goals are intended to keep you and your team aligned and focused on any project plan.
And if you want to achieve something worthwhile, you’ll have to start by defining a clear goal.
Like Max and Caroline from Two Broke Girls, who set a goal to save $250,000 for their cupcake shop. 💁🏻♀️🧁🙋🏼♀️
You’ll also take home the secret tool to manage project goals with ease.
Ready to set some spectacular project goals?
Let’s go! 😎
What Are Project Goals?
A project goal refers to the desired outcome of a project.
They are high-level statements that give you an overall context of what the project will accomplish.
In our Two Broke Girls example, the girls aim to save enough money to open their own business and say goodbye to their broke days. 💸
In fact, project goals also keep you motivated when things don’t go your way… which happens a lot with Max and Caroline.
Now, there could be different types of goal setting like performance goals, time goals, and resource goals.
However, most project goals only define the end results and can be pretty vague too.
Sure, they give you some direction.
Let’s understand what they are and how they’re different from project goals. 👀
What are project objectives?
If project goals define the WHAT, project objectives define the HOW.
They’re the smaller tasks or actions you need to tackle to achieve your project goal. In short, these are your deliverables.
Now, if Max wants to save more money for her cupcake business, one of her objectives could be:
“Offer better service at Williamsburg Diner and increase income through tips by 30% by the end of August.”
Her goal is to save money for her cupcake business, while her deliverables or objective is to increase her income from tips by 30%.
Objectives are also much more specific than project goals.
They’re more manageable and time-bound.
Let’s discuss the difference between an objective and a goal better.
How are project objectives different from project goals?
Understanding the difference between project objectives and goals is a cup-cake walk.
Though these terms are used interchangeably, they both have different roles to serve.
Goals are high-level vision statements that give direction to a project, while a project management objective is a low-level plan of action or deliverables to reach the vision.
If Max’s goal is to bake mouth-watering cupcakes, then the project management objective is its recipe.
Here are a couple of more points that will help you differentiate both:
- Goals are usually long-term, while objectives are short-term with a stricter timeline
- Goals can be a big picture full of smaller tasks, while objectives are specific and measurable
Let’s understand the difference from the Broke Girls’ point of view:
- Project goal: grow sales and customer base by making the best cupcakes
- Project objective: for the coming month, send cupcake samples of new flavors every week to nearby shops and get their feedback
Here, the goal is to boost sales by making the best cupcakes, but the clear objective defines how they can by figuring out which cupcake flavor people like the most.
If you’re still confused about the differences, check out our detailed guide on Goals vs. Objectives.
Now that we have addressed the elephant in the room, let’s move on to writing the perfect project goals. ✨✍️
How To Write Project Goals?
Before you begin to write a project goal as a project manager, there are a few rules that you must abide by. And if you’re like Max…
…Don’t worry. We know how RULES sound, but they aren’t as scary or complex.
1. Define project goals at the beginning of your project
If you want to stay on track, you must establish your project goals and objectives at the beginning of your project life cycle.
You can then use them as guides after project initiation begins.
Remember the cake-baking recipe we told you about?
2. Connect project goals to your business objectives
Now, don’t get confused with objectives here.
Business objectives are not the same as project objectives.
They’re a broader vision statement that a company sets for itself, like capturing a bigger market share or offering better customer service.
For Max and Caroline, a business vision could be to “be the best bakers in town,” while their project goal is to “open a cupcake business to showcase their baking skills.”
A project plan or a project charter should always be in line with your company’s overall goal.
After all, a project manager wouldn’t want to set a project goal that contradicts their company’s specific goal.
3. Involve your project team in goal setting
Your team, including the project manager and the project stakeholders must have a clear understanding of your goals and objectives. The more you involve your project team in goal setting, the more motivated and committed they’ll be to achieve it.
This will also help increase your buy-ins and ensure greater success with your overall goal. 🎯
Just like Caroline and Max convince Sophie to lend them $20,000.
Which they lose eventually, but it was a good start. 😅
4. Employ the SMART framework
Once you’ve defined your “reach for the star” kind of project goal, the next step is to define a SMART project objective.
Now, you don’t need to be street smart like Max to figure it out because it’s simple.
The S.M.A.R.T objectives framework stands for:
- Specific: you must clearly define your project objective and connect it with the end result of your project
- Measurable: your project management objective should mention a tangible end result like a number, percentage, etc.
- Achievable: your project objective should be well within the project scope
- Realistic: the project objective you set for your project team should be within reach
- Time-bound: you must set a deadline to achieve your project objective
If Max and Caroline follow the SMART objective framework, they’re sure to make their cupcake business a success. Cha-Ching!
Now that you know how to set any smart goal using SMART objectives, let’s look at some project goals examples to make things more clear.
5 Project Goals and Objectives Examples
Project goals and project objectives examples are like cupcake flavors.
The more you make them, the better you get at creating your own flavorful yet smart goal.
However, there’s no denying that it takes time to set the right project goal.
To help you out, here are some examples of project goals and objectives:
- Goal: generate more sales revenue
- Objective: introduce an e-commerce platform in the upcoming year to increase customer reach by 20%
- Goal: improve business processes
- Objective: reduce lead time by 20% in the next six months by introducing a project management tool
3. Customer satisfaction
- Goal: increase customer satisfaction
- Objective: improve software usability to reduce support tickets by 10% in the next quarter
4. Cost reduction
- Goal: reduce overall company expenses
- Objective: reduce costs by $20,000 in the next quarter by providing teleworking facilities to help employees work remotely
- Goal: reduce company’s carbon footprint
- Objective: achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030
Now that you know how to write any goal for your project, you can create an action plan to ensure your project’s success. 😄
But how do you know if you’re on the right track?
The Best Way To Set and Manage Project Goals in 2022
The idea of setting goals sounds great until you actually have to make an effort to define them.
You may have goal ideas in your head, but how you set and manage them will ensure your success.
And, for that, you need the right project management software like ClickUp. 😊
A goal-tracking tool like ClickUp can show you how well you’ve performed in terms of your project management goal and generate reports on the progress that you make.
You can use it to set personal goals, share goals with your team, attach tasks to your goals, and track them in real-time.
In short, ClickUp’s Goals can help you hit your goals. 😎
And, not just that, ClickUp also offers a wide range of project management features for free!
Let’s see how ClickUp makes your goals actionable, achievable, and measurable:
- Goals: have clear deadlines and measurable Targets. To stay on track, you can also set Start Dates and Due Dates
- Targets: track your Goal by setting tangible project objectives. Select from different metrics like currency, true or false, numerical, and task Targets
- Checklists: create to-do lists that count towards your project management goal. You can also use Recurring Checklists for everyday tasks that you need to do every day or week
- Weekly Scorecards: avoid procrastination by setting priorities and initiatives for every week. Let your teammates know what goal you’ll be working on
- Templates: create and save Templates for common goals and share them across teams. Use Checklist Templates to save time and manage goal-related tasks better
- Dashboards: get a high-level overview and insights into your projects, goals, tasks, and more. Share your project progress digitally with your teammates
- Epics: break down your bigger business goals to make them more manageable. Set different targets under each Epic and link tasks to these targets
- Timeline view: create a visual roadmap of your project to plan your work over time. Give your stakeholder access to your timeline with public sharing for transparency
- Gantt chart: get a bird-eye view of your project. Schedule tasks, manage deadlines and handle bottlenecks accordingly
- Mind Maps: brainstorm and create a visual outline of your project goals and share it with your team
Good news; the list doesn’t end here!
Check out the other ClickUp features that can help you ensure your project’s success. 🙌
Want To Manage Your Goals Like a Smart Cookie?
No one said that achieving a project goal would be easy.
Whether it’s personal or professional, every goal will run up against major odds or hurdles.
But the idea is to never give up.
Like Max and Caroline, who always got back on track after every setback.
With a smart project management tool like ClickUp, you can certainly make things look as easy as pie as you work towards hitting your project goals.
From setting SMART objectives or project Goals to keeping a tab of your tasks with Checklists and Reminders, we bet ClickUp will help you every step of the way.
And the best part is, most of these helpful goal setting features are available for free!
What’s holding you back then?
Get a taste of ClickUp for free, and make achieving project goals a piece of cupcake. 😉