Defining the objectives of a project

Roughly put, we can say that all projects must deliver:

  • The agreed product or objective…
  • At the agreed level of quality…
  • On time and…
  • Within budget.

(Adapted from Hughes and Cottrell, 2009, p. 14)
These are known as the project objectives of a project, as opposed to its business objectives, which deal with the impact of the project on the business. The business objectives deal with how the product or objective delivered by the project affects the business as a whole. For a project tasked with changing one management system for another, the ultimate success or failure of the project depends on whether the new system helps the business perform its tasks better. The measurement of this must be defined before starting the execution phase of the project.
From the above list, we extrapolate three factors that must be agreed upon during the planning stage of the project:

  • Scope (product/objective and its quality)
  • Timeframe (time of delivery)
  • Resources (budget)

 The better a project plan is, the less we will need to deviate from it in order to achieve the objective. While we can usually achieve two of these factors fully, we may need to compromise on a third. In the end, it is an important part of project planning to define not only the three factors, but also which of them take precedence over the other, i.e. which we are willing to make compromises over.
Hughes, B and Cotterell, M (2009) Software Project Management, London, McGraw Hill

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