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Objectives – Should be



Aligned to business objectives

The objectives of any project should fit in with the higher objectives of the business.
The objectives of any project should fit in with Mission Statement.

They should also be in accord with the culture of the organisation.

This would be reviewed with the Business Case in the case of PRINCE2®.

Measurable

Too many objectives can be confusing and more time should be taken in making sure that they are well defined, achievable and measurable.
Measurable implies producing some piece of evidence to show successful completion i.e. a ‘deliverable’.

There is little point in having an objective if you can’t measure whether you have achieved it.
Of course these should be agreed with other parties, for example, senior managers, Project Sponsors and other interested parties via the Project Notebook document.

Achievable

If an objective is not achievable then you may have to examine the definition of the project or the scope more closely.

Readily understandable

As well as describing the objective clearly it should be described as simply as possible.
This will make it readily understandable and so should not require a great deal of interpretation.

Few in number

Major objectives are naturally broken down into smaller ones to make planning easier and more accurate over a shorter time period.
However, too many objectives will only confuse.
Bearing in mind you will need to control the achievement of objectives too many may mean excessive meetings and documentation to show that each one has been met.

Try to break down the plan into enough objectives for good control and, if possible, at natural break points.

Have the full support of senior managers, project sponsor and users

All objectives via the plan must be given the full support of all of the project stakeholders.
Without this the project is unlikely to get started or have a reduced chance of success.

The plan and Business Case would be ratified and approved by the Project Board (or programme management) under PRINCE2.

Acronym

Many people would have heard of S.M.A.R.T. objectives (targets) where the acronym refers to:

Specific
Measurable
Achievable
Relevant
Time (related)

A simple objective that meets such requirements could be:

‘Deliver the pump by the 1st of November.’

Similar acronyms also exist.

Under PRINCE2 2009 [see ‘The Complete Project Management plus PRINCE2’] a project’s output is any of the project’s specialist products (whether tangible or intangible).
An outcome is the result of the change derived from using the project’s outputs.
A benefit is the measurable improvement resulting from an outcome that is perceived as an advantage by one or more stakeholders.

For example:

Costs are reduced by 10%, volume of sales orders increased by 15% and revenue increased by 10% annually.
[see Business case - Business Case defined - Outputs, outcomes and benefits]

The Senior User(s) specifies the benefits and is held to account by demonstrating to corporate or programme management that the forecast benefits that formed the basis of project approval are in fact realized.
[see Business case - The PRINCE2 approach - Confirming the benefits]

The Business Case should list each benefit that it is claimed would be achieved by the project’s outcome (for the selected business option).
It is important to define the current status of each benefit in quantifiable terms so that measurable improvements can be assessed after the project has been completed.
[see Business case - The PRINCE2 approach - The contents - Expected benefits]

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