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Tips on Writing Goals For a Project

written by: Jean Scheid • edited by: Ginny Edwards • updated: 6/26/2013

Every project should have set goals to ensure smooth project flow and success. If defining goals is difficult for you, Jean Scheid offers tips on why writing goals for projects is essential as well as how to define your goals.

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    Setting Goals

    North Carolina Kicking Field Goal Wikimedia Commons Because a project is not the same as a day-to-day task, you need to set goals in order for the project to be completed. Often, project managers make the mistake that every project has only two goals—finish the project on time and come in under budget. Do these two goals really make a project successful?

    A project can have many goals including goals for your team, stakeholders, client and even upper management. Writing goals for projects requires managers to analyze a project and outline the goals before the project begins.

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    Define and Then Write Project Goals

    Before you actually write your project goals, you need to define them. A good way to help in writing goals for projects is to utilize a list-type system:

    Begin by asking yourself these questions:

    1. Final Outcome – How will you know when the project is complete? What is the end-required result? Who has offered the description of what the project is and what is desired?
    2. Methodology - How will you get to the project outcome and which project management methodology will work best for your project deliverables?
    3. Resources – What sort of teams do you need? Define both in-house and outsourced resources. Include inventory, IT needs, and any other needed materials.
    4. Evaluate - How and who will evaluate the end result? Will you need test samples or will the project need continual testing at various levels throughout the project lifecycle?
    5. Monitor – How will you monitor and control the project? Will you need a risk management or change control plan in place?

    To help you in writing goals for projects, download and print the this Project Goal Template. Keep in mind, however, that in the project management world, when writing goals for projects, the above five goals may include many sub-goals, including short- and long-term goals.

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    Developing Your Goals

    UN Millenium Goals Wikimedia Commons So you’ve defined your basic project goals; do you need short- and long-term goals? Isn’t the outcome of any project just figuring out how to get from point A to point B? Unfortunately, even a small project such as deciding how to recycle paper at your office can include initial goals, sub-goals, and goals to work on now as well as later. All of these require good time management skills.

    An example of a sub-goal might be in the resources area of your project goals. While you know you will need vendors for defined materials or supplies, which vendor will you choose? A sub-goal is finding the right vendor or supplier. So indeed, you do need to define and write sub-goals.

    If we use our recycling of paper project example, you have your initial goals, and perhaps a sub-goal would be which vendor you will choose to provide needed recycling bins, but what about goals over the short and long course of the project?

    A short-term goal might be listed as, “By the end of assigned period, every office will have paper recycling bins." A long-term goal could be making your organization a recycling center for an entire office building, “By the end of assigned period, every company within our office building will have easy drop off or pick up paper recycling services."

    Initially, the short-term goal of placing recycling bins in every office can be relatively simple, once the sub-goal of the correct supplier of those bins has been selected. Your long-term goal of inviting or enticing every company in your office building to join in your green efforts may take longer and require a more in-depth action plan.

    In order for your projects to get from point A to point B, you do need to develop good writing skills for project goals. First define main goals, then evaluate sub-goals, and finally include both short- and long-term goals to ensure timely project deliverables.