How to define project goals
10 Feb

How to define project goals

Setting a goal is one thing, achieving a goal is another. Companies that think and work in projects are repeatedly exposed to this difficulty. It takes more than clear words to define real project goals from a project utopia. Because often only the result after the finish line is focused but not the way there. However, the many small milestones are often relevant in order to make it verifiable in the end: Have we achieved our goal?

All eyes on the project goals

Of course, it is important to focus on the goal. However, one should not stumble blindly towards it. Every step needs to be examined the question: Does this bring us closer to the goal? Especially in projects where several people are involved, everyone in the project team takes on this control function. This allows all employees to check whether they are pulling in the same direction. Without a unified focus, the definition of the goals or the objective will probably turn out differently after all and priorities will be set differently.

In addition, various questions have to be answered that are not related to the goal, but are still relevant for achieving it. What if the project is in a crisis situation? What could this look like? And how can the goal still be achieved?

SMART – e project goals

These questions can only be answered if the goal is clear. To do this, you first need someone to define the project goal. This is usually the client of the project. In the case of an ERP project, this is often first of all: introduction of a new system. However, this goal is also usually linked to the idea that something in the company should change. For example, more efficiency, better controlling or automated processes. In the definition of these goals, for example, the existing processes included and considered whether these objectives can be implemented and measured. This is the first major task of the project team - and in ERP projects it is often reflected in the process analysis reflected. Although it is said that the goals should only be defined at the project kick-off, for the most part this is a little late. The pre-project phase is the best time to formulate the goals, since goal definitions can also decide on the system selection.

At this point, it is often helpful to use the SMART acronym, which shows whether goals are clearly formulated and measurable. SMART stands for

  • Sspecific
  • Medible
  • Aaccepted
  • Rrealistic
  • Tdetermined

If it is an example of an ERP project and the goal is to introduce a new system, it could look something like this: In the new system, the time from receiving an order to shipping is reduced by 40%.

Special case: agile projects

Instead of a project goal in the classic sense, “product versions” are defined for agile projects. Their focus is on the benefit of the product - i.e. the end result of the project - for the user. This approach sometimes also makes sense for classic projects, since project goals can easily be derived from a product version.

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