Defining project goals

Cork board with sticky notes.

Defining the project may seem like a simple task of just defining goals. However, it is worth considering its meaning. Why? Because this is where the key to the project's success lies.  

If we neglect to carefully define the goals, i.e. we do not understand what the project's success means, we risk that the project will end in failure. So it's worth going further and reflect on what it means to fail a project. Is it a failure when we spent money but didn't get the results we expected? Is it a failure when a project does not bring improvement in the everyday functioning of the organization? Or maybe it is a failure when the investment does not bring the expected financial return? 

Diversity of projects - diversity of goals 

By answering these questions, we come closer to understanding and defining the project goals. It is worth remembering that the questions asked may be different because no two projects are identical. For example, the project of building a dream house is different from the project of optimizing the production process, and in turn, the project that is to bring financial benefits as remuneration for its implementation is different. Understanding the differences between project types is key effective definition of goals. 

It is worth reaching for the definition of a project from the 6th edition of the PMBOK Guide, which, although it repeats the same ideas many times, reflects the complexity of this issue. It says that a project is a temporary undertaking that aims to create a unique product, service or result. Projects are undertaken to achieve goals by creating the so-called deliverables. This word has no literal Polish equivalent, and looking at the definition further, "product" often does not reflect its full meaning. This is why defining project goals it is a more complex process. 

Clearly documenting your goals is the key to success 

However, the PMBOK Guide goes further to emphasize that it is crucial to clearly document the project goals. Key project stakeholders and the project manager should answer three key questions: What does project success look like? How will success be measured? What factors can influence success? 

Following this path, we reach the recommendations contained in the 7th edition of the PMBOK Guide. Project success is measured in relation to the project objectives and success criteria. A measurable value, a key aspect of... defining project goals, are the characteristics of effective metrics (or SMART criteria) that include Specific, Related to the Business Case (Meaningful), Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. 

Defining project goals is a key step in initiating a project. Although it may seem like a simple task, its importance must be strongly emphasized. Therefore, it is worth learning the recommendations and thoughts contained in the PMBOK Guide to effectively achieve project success. 

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