How to Write Effective Project Objectives


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Projects are time-bound and should meet specific goals and targets. And to achieve these, there should be a direction to be followed which comes in the form of project objectives. These should be clear and specific and must address the problem that is being stated in the Problem Statement. In a nutshell, objectives are concrete statements that provide information regarding what a project is trying to achieve. It is important that these are written so that everyone involved gets to know it by heart and works towards achieving them.

Why are Objectives Important?

Although the above opening paragraph already talks about the basics of effective project objectives, it is always important to stress the significance of objectives.

1. Objectives are stated in business terms

The good thing about project objectives is that they represent an agreement between the project management team and its project sponsor. In order for these to be approved, they should speak in a way that is easy to understand for the sponsor.

2. Objectives create the project’s frame

If compared to the human body, the objectives make up the skeleton. These identify the deliverables and provide a basis for the project’s overall scope, budget, and duration.

3. Objectives gauge a team’s success

Throughout the duration of the project up until its completion, a team can use the project objectives to gauge their success. If everything has been met, then, it can be a total success. However, if only a number of the objectives were met, then, it can be declared a partial success.

What are SMART Objectives?

SMART objectives
The SMART Objectives provide a useful guide.

Project objectives should not be taken lightly as these give direction to the projects. One very important and helpful way to make them is through what is called the SMART Objectives which stand for S-specific, M-measurable, A-attainable/achievable, R-realistic, and T-time-bound.



Every objective should be specific, not vague. It should not be generic because then, it wouldn’t suit the specific situation of the project at hand. When it is tailored to suit the project, the easier it would be to understand and adapt to for the people involved in it.

M – Measurable

A good question that checks if an objective is measurable is ‚Äòis it quantifiable?’ If it is related to sales and marketing, project managers should be able to count how many units were sold or how many customers or leads have been recorded.

A – Achievable/Attainable

Project objectives must be attainable; after all, a project should be achievable. There is no point in making objectives that are impossible to reach. Moreover, objectives cannot be too high to cause undue stress and anxiety for the team, nor should it be too simple to keep the team from exerting enough effort and being complacent.

R – Realistic

In addition to objectives being achievable, they should also be realistic. For example, if one says, ‚ÄòI will be $30 million richer at the end of three months’. Yes, it’s measurable and specific, but is it attainable and realistic? No, because it is too ambitious. It is correct to aim high but it should also remain realistic.

T – Time-bound

A pocket watch is hanging
Objectives are time-bound

This means that projects have deadlines. They cannot go beyond deadlines because it is also affected by the budget. In a nutshell, the budget is based on the length of time the project can be completed. The objective should then say the exact time or date that the project or its phases should be completed by.

Other Tips When Writing Project Objectives

Here are other helpful tips in writing effective project objectives.

1. Brevity and clarity are key tips

When a team composes the project objectives, they should keep in mind that brevity and clarity are the most important. This is because the longer the objectives are, the more interpretations people will have of it. It creates more confusion and questions, instead of clarity and explanation.

2. Avoid using jargons and acronyms

This brings project teams back to the S in SMART – Specific. Acronyms only stand for what they mean and some of them are being used for two or more meanings. Also, jargons are language or terminologies used within a specific industry. And even if the sponsor may operate in that same industry, some jargons may still not be clear to them.

3. Collaborate with the team

It is common for teams to think that writing objectives is the sole responsibility of the team manager. On the contrary, it is a team responsibility which calls for collaboration. This means that the team should come together, suggest, and brainstorm to come up with a set of effective objectives. This way, everyone is on the same page and knows how the project should go.

Read More: Project Management Best Practices: Prioritizing and Planning

Examples of Good and Bad Project Objectives

Here are some examples of good and bad project objectives.

Bad  Good  
Bring in more clients for the company  Increase the company’s clientele by 50% at the end of the 1st quarter of 2020
Make new productsCreate 100 facial care products in 2021, 50% of which will be patented by June 2020
Get more fundingAcquire funding of $1 million at the end of 2020
Remove problems in the workplaceReduce employee tardiness and absenteeism by 70% at the end of the 2nd quarter of 2020


Project management teams should remember that project objectives steer their direction to success. It is like the steering wheel of a car and driving without it leads to nowhere. Thus, it should be a top priority and must be completed long before a project is initiated and must be agreed upon by all concerned parties.

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