How to Write a Project Objective? (Step-by-Step Guide)

Project objective statements are used within every single industry, where they serve to create a single rallying point that clarifies the goals of any big or small project a company undertakes to move forward in their mission. Without these often-misunderstood statements, it becomes extremely difficult to keep track of progress, or indeed to make it in the first place.

How are project objective statements written, and what steps need to be taken before an effective project objective can be created?

Understanding a Project Objective

Before we can define what project objectives — which are also sometimes referred to as project objective statements or simply "objectives" — it may help to take a step back to look at the nature of the term "project". In the business world, any relatively short-term endeavor that seeks to achieve a specific and predetermined outcome, service, product, or change can be called a project. In one way or another, all projects are designed to add value, typically in the form of profits.

Projects are temporary campaigns with clear goals, the success or failure of which can be measured. They begin, and at some point they must come to a close. In the modern world, a whole niche of professionals called project managers has emerged to oversee projects and push them closer to success.

Project objectives serve as an indispensable tool to help all involved achieve this success. A project objective has several distinct purposes, which can be summarized as:

  • Clearly defining the purpose — yes, "objective" — of the project. Some projects only have a single important objectives, while other projects unfold in stages and have multiple distinct objectives.
  • In clearly laying these objectives out in a single comprehensive document, the project objective statement, the organization ensures that all relevant stakeholders are aware of the precise size and scope of the project. This ensures that the scope is not exceeded, and also that all goals can be met.
  • This allows relevant parties to be able to assess the progress of the project clearly.
  • It can further create a powerful motivational tool for those people responsible for bringing the project to a successful close.
  • Finally, project objective statements play a role in ensuring that each department or employee works well together, by creating a clear line of communication.

A project objective statement is, then, a roadmap and a compass, all in one. An objective statement makes sure that everyone knows exactly what they are doing, how to do it, and what outcome this work should lead to. For a single document to be able to achieve all those things, it is immediately apparent that it has to be extremely well-crafted and clear. Yet, all of this is achieved in a very short statement.

Similar to project objective statements, research objective statements provide a framework for scientific research, and these statements indeed contain many of the same elements.

Project Objectives vs Project Goals vs Project Plan: What Is the Difference?

People sometimes ask what the difference between project goals and project objectives is — and although these two seem at first glance to be very similar, they are entirely disparate entities.

A project goal is extremely broad, and can usually be summarized very effectively in three words or less. A project goal could be to "improve user experience", to "attract more customers", or even to "increase profit". A project goal offers a very quick glimpse into the underlying aim a company is aiming for, then, but it completely omits specifics — the steps that would need to be taken in order to realize the goal.

A project objective statement fixes that by including, very succinctly, all the most important ways in which the underlying goal will be met. In addition, it determines when this should be done.

It can be helpful to look at project goals and project objective statements as two phases within the same process. Once the goal has been determined, the way to achieve it can follow.

What follows after that? While your project objective statement briefly defines what a project is aiming to achieve, how it is going to do so, and when the project should be complete, a project plan lays out the details in a methodical way. A project plan serves as a procedural guide, that further explains how the project objective will be realized, in other words.

What Elements Should a Project Objective Statement Contain?

Project objective statements should, above all, be extremely clear and goal-focused. The elements an effective and well-written project objective usually contain can be described in numerous different ways, but one helpful way to look at it would be through the lens of the so-called "SMART" framework for goal-setting. This acronym is made up of five different parts, which dictate that objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-limited. Let's take a closer look at all of these elements.

Making Your Project Statement Specific

Project goals should either solve an existing problem, usually one that drains income, or improve a situation, usually to expand income. The objectives laid out in a project objective statement should be specific, meaning that everyone reading the statement understands what the goal is. Sometimes there's just one goal, and sometimes there are multiple. A statement like "provide excellent customer service" is not specific enough, because it is subjective and lacks detail. On the other hand, "shortening hold times for all callers to one minute or less" is specific.

Ensuring Your Outcome Is Measurable

Once it is clear what the objective is, a way to quantify the failure or success of the outcome also has to be determined. "Get everything ready", for instance, is vague and not necessarily measurable, but "move all computers to the new software system and complete the first level of employee training" is.

Setting Attainable Objectives

This aspect of creating an efficient project objective statement means that it is crucial to limit the scope of your objective to elements within the control of the company. To name an example, "get only five star reviews for our new product" is certainly desirable, but it's beyond your control. However, making sure that products are always shipped out within 24 hours, increasing the odds of more positive customer reviews, is attainable with the right approach.

Assessing the Relevance of an Objective

A project objective further has to have a very clear reason for existing in the first place — in one way or another, the project objective, as defined, has to benefit the company or team committing to the objective. This can be summarized as relevance.

Setting an End Date and Making Your Objective Time-Limited

This heading may be considered to fall into the "measurable" section as well, because to have a way to motivate your team and measure the success of the project, it simply has to have a deadline. Deciding that the outcome you are aiming for has to be realized by a certain time spurs everyone on, and ensures that each person knows what is expected of them.

How to Write a Project Objective Statement: A Step-by-Step Guide

Remember that a project objective statement serves as a succinct reminder, goal-setter, and yardstick against which the success or failure of a project can be measured. These statements may or may not be catchy, but they're clear. They're not detailed realization documents that lay out precisely what technical steps need to be undertaken — those will exist separately.

Keeping that in mind, here's a look at the steps project managers and other involved personnel may take as they seek to craft a project objective statement that does precisely what it needs to.

1. The Early Stages of Project Planning: Brainstorming

Project objective statements exist to bring a project to a successful close — not in isolation. Before a project objective can be crafted, it is necessary to first commit to the project; even if that commitment remains in its initial non-specific stages.

As an example, let's say that you and your team run a small podcast with a growing following. You are beginning to catch people's attention, and you are attracting more and more famous guests that in turn bring more listeners to your podcast. To be able to keep growing, you need to find ways to monetize your podcast better. Having identified a particular problem, you and your team can begin to discuss the different options at your disposal to make it happen.

One step you could take would be to set up a Patreon program and to offer listeners who become part of it exclusive access to monthly podcast episode with extra-special guests. The beginnings of your project are now forming.

Your idea still has many moving parts, and you need to narrow it down to be able to set a clear objective for your project. In this early stage, you'll be overwhelmed with questions, such as:

  • What technical steps do we need to take to set up a Patreon program?
  • We'll need to prepare podcast episodes for early donors to enjoy right away; who can we invite, and when will we record these episodes?
  • Some podcasters also offer exclusive seminars through their Patreon programs. Should we do that?
  • Will this even get us more money?
  • Should we invest that money back into the podcast?

That's just the start, of course — and what you've achieved so far can be described as a loose project goal. The chaotic jumble of questions you see above immediately illustrates why setting yourself a project objective can be so very helpful. Establishing a project objective helps you move from dream to reality, and it shows you what path you will take to reach your destination as well.

2. Committing to a Vision for Success

The next step lies in deciding what success would look like — and if we look back to the SMART acronym, we already know that this involves specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-limited goals. Most teams will find it helpful to begin by giving themselves specific and realistic goals.

To continue with the podcast example, the vision for success would ultimately orbit around increasing the amount of income the podcast brings in, and the team has decided to do this by setting up a Patreon program with exclusive podcast episodes.

What elements of this vision lie within your control? That would be setting up the Patreon program and creating exclusive podcast episodes. Your project objective statement may therefore begin with this aim "Increase our profitability by establishing a Patreon program through which donors who give back to our show gain access to exclusive podcast episodes". You can get even more specific by committing to release two exclusive podcast episodes per month.

3. Setting a Timeline for Your Project

After deciding on a a vision for success, or an overarching project goal, you committed to specific objectives. You know what you are planning to achieve, and you know that you can pull it off — because you have settled on a realistic goal that offers a measurable answer to a definable problem. The next step toward a clear project objective would be to decide when you are able to complete your objective. To do that, set a time frame in which you can realistically expect to meet the goal if everyone on the team works hard.

4. Deciding on the Wording for Your Project Objective

A good project objective statement should set clear expectations, act as a motivational tool, and serve as a way to determine if the outcome was successfully reached. It is also short. This means that you cannot cover every single aspect of the way in which the project will realize its success within the project objective.

Keep it simple and clear. To finish our podcast example off, we want to remove unnecessary verbiage and offer the team a rallying cry. "Establishing our very own Patreon program to offer exciting exclusive podcasts to generous listeners twice-monthly by June 10, 2023"? Yes, that works. You know what you're doing and when you'll launch your new program.

How to Write a Project Objective: Important Tips to Keep in Mind

While this is a guide on how to write a project objective, writing is far from the most important part of the process. Analyzing the problems a business is facing, or the vision it has for the future, lies at the core of project development. Once problems or wider goals have broadly been identified, it becomes possible to hunt for ways to make it happen — and that is where committing to very clear and defined objectives comes in.

A project objective statement acts as a roadmap, while the project plan — a long document in which every step you need to take will be laid out — can be thought of as the itinerary. A project objective does not have to summarize all aspects of a project, then, but instead focuses on the wider picture while remaining specific enough to be meaningful.

As you aim to create a killer project objective statement based on an established project, it will help to ask:

  • Does this statement accurately describe the specific goal we are aiming for?
  • Is this project objective statement able to motivate everyone working on the project, by making sure they have a clear goal to aim for?
  • Is the language used in this project objective statement realistic but upbeat? Does it show a "can-do" attitude, or is it too bureaucratically-minded in its wording? Project objective statements should generally be written in plain English and be devoid of jargon.
  • Does the project objective statement you have drafted sound like it could be the start of an effective press release? "We will launch our Patreon program on June 10 with exciting exclusive content" ticks this box, for instance, and you will want to aim for something similar.

Practice makes perfect, and once you get the hanging of writing project objectives, they will always prove to be a useful guiding tool in propelling your business to greater levels of success. Indeed, as an organizational tool, the format of project objective statements can immediately allow you to set attainable goals.

Examples of Project Objectives

Readers who remain unsure of what makes a good project objective statement — one that can play all the roles outlined above — may benefit from seeing some examples in action. While it is possible to find actual examples of project objective statements existing companies have used in the past, the following examples were created simply to help you understand how project objectives can be written in such a way that they incorporate all elements of the SMART framework.

  • "The project team will launch our new new vegan burrito line at the Las Vegas store on January 3, 2022, during its grand reopening."
  • "Emails will be sent out to all existing users to prompt them to migrate to the new platform by July 2022."
  • "We will completely phase out single-use plastics across our stores by March 2024, ushering in a greener future for the company and the world."
  • "Training to render every worker proficient in the use of the new CNC machines will be complete by the end of the year."
  • "Security cameras will be installed at every exit by May 2023."

Real-life project objective statements will be more specific in nature, perhaps mentioning certain regulations or policy decisions, names, platforms to be used, and so on, but they are generally just as succinct in their wording. When written well, any person who plays a role in seeing a project to completion should be able to memorize the project objective statement without any particular effort. In addition, they should instantly be able to understand exactly what the goals are.


Why are project objectives important?

Having clear and measurable goals allows you to achieve them. Without objectives, you're left with nothing more than a wish.

Can project objective help small businesses or startups?

Yes! Setting project objective gets any business into a mindset that places concrete actions at the center, and this plays a crucial role in future success.

Can I use project objectives in my daily life?

It is certainly possible to put the same format to work in your personal life — setting yourself personal health or career goals is an important way to keep moving forward.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *