Guest post: SIPM reader

No blog is worth without it's readers. Period.

Over all these years it was a blessing seeing the readers increase, facebook community grow and the interactions happening over emails and twitter. Thank you everyone!

So, today we have Sara Broca a new project manager and SIPM reader from France who works in the railway industry who has put together an guest post specially for SIPM (Stepping into Project Management) newbies.

Needless to say she is passionate about Project Management, quality and all tools and techniques which is very evident from her regular tweets. She looks forward to get her PMP very soon.

Thank you Sara for your involvement whether it's over the Facebook community or occasional emails!

Defining objectives for a project: is it really hard?

An objective is a specific statement of a goal, to formulate a purpose.

The objective must be formulated without giving solutions but with a goal.
It must answer the question: "Where are we going?”

Organizing this step for project managers can be really hard, because:
- Goals are already defined
- Time to focus on it is too short
- Goals are not clear
- Customer does not express it clearly etc…

But we must do the project, that’s our work…

An objective must be measurable. You know you have succeeded when all objectives are achieved, and you know they were achieved if you can give their status.

To define them even if the issues listed are there, you can try to do this by:

- Identifying the subject
- Connecting it to the project purpose
- Connecting it to what is expected from you as project manager
- Expressing it with a verb.

Objectives must also be realistic:

- With the customer needs
- With the quality assurance
- With the organization
- With the team expectations.

They must be expressed:

- In the language of the organization and of the customer
- Clearly for the team
- Clearly for the stakeholders.

To define them, you must use team, stakeholders and customers.
Objectives are helpful to communicate, monitor progress, manage the team, create limits, and to better define changes.
Before defining objectives, the scope must be known and written.
The scope briefly answers to these issues:

- Is the project strategic?
-How it fits into the strategy of the organization?
- Are there other factors that may explain why the project is to be started at this time? And in this context?
- What are the external factors affecting the client of the project?

Next we can establish objectives.

Performance – Customer’s View:
- Quality, results expected by the customer, ...

Schedule – Business View:
- Development duration, specific activities time, crtical path, ...

Costs – Strategic view:
- Investment cost, cost by work package, risk plan, mitigation plan, …

Profitability –
- ROI, profits margins, operating costs…

Defining those helps setting priorities:

- What are the needs? What is important? What is good to have in the time scheduled? What is superfluous?

A good objective is one which can be clearly linked to strategy ‘organization and can be easily cascaded down through the project team.

Points of attention:

Defining objectives of the project is a milestone for the project manager because it is also the project manager who takes responsibility of the project. That's when the project manager becomes aware of where he will have to take his project.

(Pic courtesy:Sara Broca)