Staying on Track: Setting Project Objectives that Work
April 6, 2011
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What will your project produce? What are its outcomes or deliverables?
If you are clear from the beginning what your project is going to achieve, you are not only more likely to achieve it but also save time in the long run. Many projects become bogged down in unnecessary detail or go off at time-consuming tangents. Having clear objectives from the outset will help you stay on track as the project progresses.
You will also see how setting measurable, defined objectives also benefits your business as a freelancer.
Woolly objectives achieve nothing
Your objectives should be agreed with your client, but ensure that you are both clear about what they are from the outset. Remember:
- When you are setting your project objectives you must be specific.
- Set values, if appropriate.
- Make sure your objectives are measurable (see below).
- Set time parameters so that you have clear deadlines to work towards for each stage.
- Each objective should be able to be described concisely. If you can’t define it in a brief statement then it is probably too vague and open to interpretation.
Setting objectives you can measure
For each objective you set, state how you will measure its success. For example, if you are designing a new website for a company you can measure how many hits it gets. If the objective is to increase traffic to the company’s site, agree a target with them, say an increase of 20%. Be specific, don’t say ‘about 10-30%’ as everyone will have a different interpretation about what this means.
If you have multiple objectives, set targets for each one. For example, as well as increasing traffic generally by 20%, you may also wish to increase traffic from outside the US by 15% and repeat visits by 30%.
Setting targets is good for your business
As a freelancer, having easily measurable objectives is good for your business too. When you are trying to attract new clients you can use these targets to demonstrate your own track record. For example, if you can show that your websites consistently deliver a 20% increase in web traffic it is far more useful to a new client than merely having experience in web design. They want to know what your web design will do for them.
Photo by Flickr user CJ Schmit