Project Goals vs. Objectives: What is the Difference?

Esther Cohen
December 13, 2022
Project Management
3 minute read

 

I would like to become the world’s richest project manager by 2030.

This week, I am going to listen to episode three of my project management training program.

The difference between these two statements is the difference between project goals and objectives. With the first being a goal, and the second being an objective.

 

What is a project goal?

A project goal is the desired end result of a project. The project goal is documented to clearly state what you plan to accomplish with the project. Since the goal of a project is broad it is often difficult to measure precisely. Setting project goals is integral to the success of a project, as it gives the project team a broader and clearer picture of what they are working towards. A project without a goal is like a ship without a captain. It may sound dramatic, but it’s true!



Types of goals

  • Outcome-oriented goals: When a goal focuses on results above all else, it is outcome-oriented. This type of goal is good for achieving important, far-reaching business goals. Since the outcome is more important than the deadline, the timeline for outcome-oriented goals can be adjusted if needed.

  • Process-oriented goals: This type of goal is used to improve internal processes. For example, if a team is working on streamlining project tasks, their goal is process-oriented. Rather than focusing on the outcome, the focus is on achieving that outcome in the best possible way.

  • Time-bound goals: Time-bound goals focus on getting tasks done within a certain time frame. This type of goal is used when time is of the essence and is good for motivating teams to get things done as fast as necessary.

 

So that’s a broad project goals definition. Now, let’s discuss:

 

What is a project objective?

A project objective is a short-term, specific, and tangible desired outcome within a project. Many project objectives make up the goal of the project. Project objectives should always be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

 

Types of objectives

  • Financial objectives: Every project has a financial objective, the obvious one is to keep within the project budget. In addition, when working for a client, you’ll generally be looking to increase their bottom line, e.g. by creating an attractive website to increase their web traffic.

  • Strategic objectives: When an objective aims to contribute towards larger business goals, it can be called a strategic objective. For example, if a landscaping company has a goal of becoming the number one customer choice for aesthetic landscapes, it could have a strategic objective of lining all garden paths with beautiful flower settings.

  • Quality objectives: Client trust thrives on quality deliverables. When a client is presented with a deliverable that they feel was a good investment of their money, they are likely to come back for more. Of course, the reverse is also true.



What is the difference between project goals and objectives?

Now that we’ve had some examples of project goals and objectives, let’s get really clear on the differences with the table below.

 

Key Factors

Project Goals

Project Objectives

Definition

Project goals can be defined as the end result a company wishes to achieve as a long-term gain.

Project goals are ascertained on the basis of facts and figures.

Project objectives can be defined as concrete tasks that need to be executed in order to attain the end result.

Project objectives are ascertained on the basis of ideas and innovative thoughts.

Time Duration

Project goals are long-term and tend to cover a time period of usually 5-10 years.

Project objectives are more concrete and specific. They cover short to mid-term achievements that usually need to be implemented on a daily basis.

Measurability

Project goals are difficult to measure, they do not have any criteria or set way to be measured properly.

Project objectives are relatively easy to measure. They have set criteria that managers can take into account to measure whether project objectives were met successfully.

Structure

Project goals lack structure as they define long-term gains for an organization. Therefore, they are generic, vague, and abstract in nature.

Project objectives are the opposite of project goals since they are very specific in nature. Objectives are highly structured as they define the short or medium-term achievements of an organization.

Credit: ProProfs

 

Project goals vs objectives examples

Now, test yourself! For each example below, decide-is it is a project goal or objective.

  • Update the website to follow SEO best practices

  • Increase profitability by 15% by the end of the year

  • Build ten sheds on Wednesday 

  • Create a new supermarket branch

  • Become the most popular creative agency in New York

  • Revise video script for quality control

 

Answers in order of bullet points:

Objective, goal, objective, goal, goal, objective

 

How did you do?

If you got them right, three cheers for you-you’ll never mix up goals and objectives again!

Got a few wrong? Just read through the table again.

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Achieve Your Project Goals & Objectives with Workamajig

 

Using a project management tool like Workamajig will help you stay on top of your project’s goals and objectives. Workamajig gives you clear visibility on the overall project status with details that include real-time budget tracking, resource allocation reports, and the ability to see exactly who is doing what, and who is not doing what they are supposed to be doing. By gaining a full picture of your project at any given time, you have the ability to stay within the scope of your project and avoid scope creep, and the horrors that come along with it. 

 

Learn more about the many features that Workamajig has to offer such as project management, resource management, task management, as well as billing & accounting which will allow you to complete your project with all your goals and objectives intact, and see true project success.

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