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Goal-Oriented Decomposition - What Is It?

written by: Ronda Bowen • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 11/14/2013

How does goal-oriented decomposition differ from standard composition in project management? We'll explain what this term means and discuss when it should be used.

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    Goal-oriented decomposition is decomposition that looks at goals rather than deliverables to break a project down into the smallest tasks required to achieve progress. This method of project management looks at goals the company wishes to achieve and breaks them down.

    In this article, the example of New Year’s resolutions will be used in order to show how goal-oriented decomposition works.

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    Setting the Goals

    Picture courtesy of Stock.xchng The first step in goal-oriented decomposition is to set the goals. In a business, these goals would be the strategic objectives the company hopes to achieve in the coming year. In our example, these goals are the resolutions made to ensure that the coming year will be the best year yet.

    Goals that are conducive to decomposition are goals that are measurable, realistic, and have a definite time period. An example might be “I wish to lose twenty-five pounds this year,” or “I wish to get a job promotion this year.”

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    Figuring out the Deliverables and Milestones

    In order to accomplish the goal that has been set, milestones must be created so that the project does not get off course. In order to determine the milestones or deliverables that must exist to support the goal, the mind-map method is useful. Brainstorm tasks, projects, and milestones that will bring you closer to that goal. Bring in stakeholders for the brainstorming session.

    In the resolution example, if I wish to get a job promotion, I might want to bring my boss in on the planning session. I can ask, “What actions must be taken to achieve this goal?”

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    Break Projects, Deliverables, and Milestones into Component Parts

    Once you have broken the goals down into manageable projects, deliverables and/or milestones, you will want to break each of these down further. Goal-oriented decomposition is a good way to ensure that every task your staff works on is moving your company towards the company’s strategic objectives.

    If the answer in the resolution question to the boss was “Increase profits in your division by fifteen percent and gain ten new clients this year,” then the decomposition process would break these two sub-goals down into their constituent tasks.

    Goal-oriented decomposition is a way to ensure that software development in IT companies meets the requirements of clients.


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