Why you will fail without clear project goals and objectives

It’s very clear. The success of a business is linked to the success of its projects. When a project fails, the business suffers. When several projects fail or when one seriously large project fails, the company could even go under. So what are the key ingredients to ensure each project succeeds? Well there are many ingredients which affect the outcome of any project but for now we’ll consider just two – the goals and the objectives of the project. Without these two factors being sound and appropriate, your project will fail.

Just to be clear, let’s be sure we understand what each of these ingredients really means. A goal is a broad and overall aim for a project. An objective is a far more narrow and precise aim. A goal paints a broad picture of a journey whereas the objective tells you exactly which roads you will take to get there.

Now the two items are inextricably linked. If your project has a goal or goals which are unclear, confusing or difficult, the resultant objectives will be difficult to create. How can you be precise about materials required, staff to engage and time frames to list if you are uncertain about the expected general outcome? You can’t be certain and consequently your objectives will be suspect and the project will most likely fail. Conversely if your aims are spot on but insufficient work goes into the creation of the resultant objectives, your project will fail.

The word ‘clear’ appears in the title of this article for good reason. Many projects have goals and objectives but their simple existence is not necessarily grounds for optimism. Arguing that aims and objectives are in place does not a successful project make. Both your goals and objectives must be clear. Clear, in case you are uncertain, means ‘completely understood’.

But clarity of itself is also not sufficient. Clarity is directly related to communication. So assuming you do have clear goals and objectives, your next task is to make sure that communicating them is successful. In many businesses today, communication breakdown is the cause of many project failures. Whether the message is sent to the next office or across the globe, clarity of message is essential. So getting your goals and objectives spot on is essential but if you report them badly you may as well have poor aims in the first place.

And finally there are expectations. Unclear aims and objectives are self-defeating but even with clear aims and objectives it is possible to create different expectations. If staff members within a project expect different things, the clearest of aims and objectives can be thwarted. Frustration within a company often arises when expectations are not met.

Give yourself a simple test. On your company’s most recent project were the goals and objectives clear? Did the management clearly communicate these goals and objectives? Did various project members have the same expectations?

The end result of your project is directly related to its beginning. Clearly defined goals and objectives are the perfect foundation for success.


What are some of you tips on writing clear goals and objectives to get your project off to the right start?

Leave a comment below and let us know.


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