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Project Management Objectives
By James Clements

Project Management Objectives are not the same for every project or program, unlike Project Manager/Management Responsibilities which indeed you could generalize for all projects and I think some may confuse these two terms.

Project Management Objectives are the specific objectives that the project sets out to achieve. They are objectives that satisfy both the client needs and requirements and your organization/teams reason for doing the project. This latter point being very important because while we want to fully satisfy our client, projects are a vehicle for driving business strategy and these strategic objectives need to be defined, communicated and their achievement measured.

Each project should have Primary and Secondary objectives. Projects can only have one Primary Objective, usually where you address the client requirements, however there can been multiple secondary objectives and this is where you can state what you want to achieve from the project.

Objectives need to be tangible and they need to be able to be objectively measured. During the scoping stages of a project, whilst the objectives need to be specific they may lack some objective measure, and this is OK in a scoping document.

You will later become much move specific when these objectives are broken down and turned into Quality Objectives in your Project Quality Plan and you would use a method like SMART to define them, where Objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time limited. Let’s look at some examples.

Primary Objective

This statement is akin to a project mission statement or raison d’être and when you and the project team are faced with overwhelming demands on your time, then this is their primary focus and everything else is secondary and can wait.


  • The primary objective of the project is to deliver an aesthetically pleasing and cost effective apartment complex that takes account of green building practices as defined in the Building Contract #ABC/123 dated 1st January 2014, delivered on time and within the allocated budget.

From this, you would later define (pre-contract) such measures as “aesthetically pleasing” “cost effective” “green building practices” more succinctly and with measures of achievement as Quality Objectives, see my post How do we agree “Finished” in projects? for related reading.

Secondary Objectives

There can be more than one secondary objective. This is where you should define the key areas you as project manager and your organization seek to concentrate on to ensure project and ongoing organizational success and also the hot buttons of your key stakeholders.


  • Create a zero harm work environment.
  • Seek supply chain efficiencies through closer integration and relationships with the key suppliers listed as primary stakeholders.

  • Position XYZ Building Company to have competitive advantage for the subsequent building maintenance contract.

  • Position XYZ Building Company for future apartment developments in the Tokyo CBD.

Again, same applies for setting specific targets and objective measures as Quality Objectives.

The setting of project objectives is done in the scoping stage of a project, they can be fluid if the project is still being scoped, but once the Scope Definition is complete and before you enter a contract, they should not change unless there is a formal scope change.

James Clements, MBA, MPD has been managing, directing, winning projects and developing project management processes in diverse industries around the world for the past 20 years. You can contact James via his website here and you can read more from him on his blog.

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