Difference Goals VS Outcomes Vs Objectives Vs Outputs In Projects

goals vs outcomes

When planning a new project, many managers seek out new ways to relay their intended results with the team. Goals, outcomes, objectives and other key terms can often get muddled in the planning process, which leads to unclear planning and strategy. If you are a project manager, it is important that you understand these definitions so that you can more easily determine what you hope to accomplish. Then you can use your enterprise resource planning software and figure out how your team will go about it. To find out more about the definition of goals vs outcomes and other important terms, keep reading below.


Goals are most often described as broad, general statements that lead to an ultimate outcome. A goal focuses on the core substance of something, allowing you to establish a very general idea of your project’s needs. For example, if you are working on an advertising campaign, your broad goal is to encourage sales for a product. Additional, smaller goals can be added later as a stepping stone to achieve specific outcomes.


Objectives are directly related to goals because they help to define the goals set in place for a particular project. Business objectives differ from goals because they are measurable, specific and actionable methods that will help you to achieve certain goals. For example, if your goal is to increase sales for a product, one of your objectives may be to spread awareness about a particular product by increasing TV providers advertising in a certain region by 30%. Goals are broad concepts, whereas objectives are more concrete.


Regarding the goals vs outcomes debate, outcomes are what help you to focus on your goal. This provides measurable effects that the project will accomplish. This will help tell you when you have met your goals and guide you toward reaching them. Outcomes follow the direct intention of the goal, but elaborate on the who, what, where, when, why and how. For example, to increase sales your objective would say: At the end of the third quarter, 15% more people in the North East region will purchase XYZ product. This provides you with a time-sensitive, measurable requirement for your project.


Output is similar to objectives because it relates to how you will go about achieving your goals, objectives and outcomes. This, however, is the work that actually ends up being done. For example, when your objective is to increase advertising, your output would be the new commercial or print ad that gets made as a result. Output is the actual stepping stone toward your goals.


Finally, the last definition any project manager must understand is evaluation. Evaluation plays a key part in achieving your project’s goals, objectives and outcomes. This is a fluid, ongoing process that occurs throughout the lifespan of your project. It can be conducted with web meetings, one to one’s or group meetings. You should always be measuring and checking your progress as a way of seeing the project through to completion.

Project managers have a large responsibility on their shoulders. Developing goals, objectives and outcomes for a project can be a difficult task, especially when you do not understand the distinctions between each one. For a more successful project, be sure to remember these definitions above.

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