Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Defining the Business Objectives and Benefits

Question 2: Have you defined and understood the business objectives and benefits?

Project Manager point at the word goal

21 Ways to Excel at Project Management

Good Practice: A Project Definition document should be prepared early in the project and formally signed off by the Steering Committee. This document defines the goals, objectives, benefits, deliverables, exclusions, assumptions, business sponsors, responsibilities, estimated costs, timescale and serves the following purposes:

  1. Clearly defines the objectives and scope of the project.
  2. Provides management and team members with a common view and clear understanding.
  3. Provides a good starting point for the subsequent definition of more detailed documents, such as, the Project Plan, Project Budget and Functional Requirements Specification.

In a nutshell, The single best payoff in terms of project success comes from having good project definition early. - RAND Corporation.

Common Mistakes

  • Start focusing on solutions, how to achieve something, before gaining a clear understanding of the business objectives that you want to achieve and identifying the business sponsors needed to help achieve these objectives.
  • Not returning to the Benefits Statement during the project to make sure they are still valid and achievable.


  • The number of projects that set out confidently with little or no idea of what they are supposed to achieve is truly astounding.
  • Some projects start out with a clear idea, but lose track of it by the time they're 20% into the project.
  • Many proud, objective-orientated managers have a list of goals that are, on closer inspection, technology driven, and not business driven. They are headed for a 'successful' project whose results will never be used.
  • Keep in mind that the aim of a project is 'results delivery' not, as is often the case, 'construction activity'. This means thinking about the products the project is in business to deliver.