Goals and objectives are two commonly used terms by project managers. Sometimes they are used interchangeably, but is it correct to do so? This article aims to clarify your understanding of goal vs objective. 

What are Goals?

Goals are the driving force for an individual or company. They require the performance of tasks to be achieved. The quality of action desires the time, speed, and efficiency of the result or achieved the goal. The goals should be compatible with the project and practical in approach. They can be multiple based on the division of the project into small parts and be clear enough to direct the course of action. 

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Types of Goals

Goals can be categorized based on targets to be achieved. The different types are as follows:

Time-Bound Goals

When a goal is targeted to be completed in a specific period, it is a time-bound goal. Suitable for both long and short-term outcomes, they are generally preferred for the quick delivery of tasks. Time-bound goals push the workers and members to complete their tasks. For instance, time-bound goals can be like the decision to complete the design of a machine part, prepare a poster, and complete the meetings on a particular topic within a week. 

Outcome-Oriented Goals

The base of these goals is the achievement or result of the task to be completed. The outcome-oriented goal is better when the process is already decided and time is not limited. For instance, to achieve a particular market share or manufacturing amount of product in a specific time. Here the focus is the result and not the time. 

Process-Oriented Goals

When a goal is focused on action and the method of performing it, it is referred to as process-oriented. It involves planning the action method, incorporating techniques or tools, developing new perspectives, trying innovative ideas, and multiple other things to accomplish the target. Examples of process-oriented goals include working on a plan to increase social media presence or working on self-development. 

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Other Types of Goals

Goals can further be based on different factors as described below:

  • Growth Goal

It is similar to the outcome-oriented goal, which focuses on growth. It ultimately emphasizes everything associated with development and eliminates the things that bring down the result. 

  • Quantitative Goal

These goals encompass the scale and measure the goals to be achieved. 

  • Qualitative Goal

Here, the work is focused on delivered quality. It guides the people to a specific aim. 

  • Milestone Goal

Milestones mark the completion of a phase or part of the project which is significant enough to be acknowledged. Achieving these goals encourages the team. 

What Are Objectives?

Objectives are the steps that lead to a goal. These are small, focused, and give direction to the outcome. These small breakable parts of the overall target become the base of the methodology to be planned concerning the goal. Moreover, the subset is the defining factor in pursuit vs objective.

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Types of Objectives

There are three main objectives, strategic, tactical, and operational. 

Strategic Objectives 

These are highly similar to goals set by executives and directors. Strategic objectives describe and align with the long-term outcomes. 

Tactical Objectives

They are associated with short-term goals and are assigned by project, business, program managers, and independent teams. They align with long-term goals and are highly focused. They can be sub-part of the strategic objectives contributing to overall achievement. 

Operational Objectives

These are the daily tasks to be done to achieve the larger goals. They can be sent by team leaders or independent teams and are highly manageable. Their set period can be a day, week, or month. Operational objectives are primarily monitored to gain insight in case of any issue, as they will provide minor details. 

Difference Between Goals vs Objectives

When it is a question of goal vs objective, it gets difficult to understand the difference clearly because the two terms are used interchangeably, though they are different. Goals are based on the larger perspective and require conceptual thinking. Being broad, they are nonspecific and unmeasurable. Moreover, these are feasible or aspirational and benefit the individuals and team by giving them an aim. 

Objectives are specific and tangible tasks that require creativity, analytical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Objectives can be measured and achieved with an ultimate aim—these direct the teams and individuals to the goals. 

Strategy vs. Objective

Strategy is the approach, while the objective is the action that takes one toward the goal. For instance, strategy decides what factors to consider while looking for a specific goal. The objective focuses on how to achieve that goal using the thought strategy. 

Goal vs Objective in Project Management

Both are required to move and manage the project. Goals are broader, with long-term aims set to be achieved with the help of narrower and comparatively short-term objectives. Objectives define the steps taken to achieve the goal, which is the ultimate project. 

Examples of Goal vs Objective

Goal vs objective can be better clarified through the examples discussed below:

Example 1: Brand Goal

Goal: Develop a beneficial product for associated companies that links the community

Objective: begin the survey to understand current demands and further formulate the demand according to the company's product or services

Example 2: Growth Goal

Goal: Increase the outreach of the company by 15% by the end of 2022

Objective: Work on social media promotion and develop vlogs 

Example 3: Efficiency Goal

Goal: Increase the quality of healthcare services

Objective: Hire more quality analysts and implement actions based on the generated reports

The mentioned examples indicate goal vs objective according to the real-world examples of the company's point of view. 

How to Measure Goals and Objectives?

Review the mentioned points to get assistance in measuring goals and objectives:

Analyze Data Points

Look at each day's activities of the employees and converse with managers, leaders, and business owners to analyze the progress. Data points in traffic value and conversion rate are a few performance indicators. 

Measure Past Performance

Based on previous improvements and actions, check if suggestions are implemented correctly.  

Follow a Structure

Structure or framework brings clarity and defines the actions. It includes interacting with the members and teams and asking queries of the responsible person. 

Benefits of Setting Work Goals

Though goals are broad and immeasurable, they give direction and aim to work on. Here are other associated benefits:

  • Goals give direction to your efforts
  • Goals help you set your priorities
  • Goals increase your conviction in achievement
  • Goals support decision-making
  •  Goals motivate you to act
  • Goals help you reach your full potential
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Benefits of Setting Work Objectives

A deeper insight into goal vs objective helps differentiate the two. Hence, the different benefits of objectives are enlisted here - 

  • Objectives measure your progress
  • Objectives offer a sense of achievement
  • Objectives confirm your confidence in the strategy
  • Objectives help in making difficult decisions
  • Objectives help you understand what your company expects from you

A skilled project manager knows the correct time to use each term. Kickstart your career with our PGP Project Management Course and learn the latest skills, tools and concepts. Enroll today!

About the Author

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Simplilearn is one of the world’s leading providers of online training for Digital Marketing, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Data Science, IT, Software Development, and many other emerging technologies.

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  • PMP, PMI, PMBOK, CAPM, PgMP, PfMP, ACP, PBA, RMP, SP, and OPM3 are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
  • *According to Simplilearn survey conducted and subject to terms & conditions with Ernst & Young LLP (EY) as Process Advisors