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What Happens When the Project Goal Isn’t Clear

What Happens When The Project Goal Isnt Clear, Project Management Blog
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Every project manager must think beyond the proposed requirements, budget, and timelines to ensure they are performing high-visibility projects efficiently to achieve strategic goals.

What happens if the goal isn’t clear?

As a project manager, you are accountable for the failure and success of the projects. No pressure, right?

Let’s face it. Being a project manager is no easy gig. With different deadlines, personalities, work approaches, communication styles, and priorities, keeping everything on track and running the entire process smoothly often feels like a battle.

In my previous posts, I’ve shared many strategies on successful project management.

Can you tell me, what’s the most common thing in all those posts?

A clear project goal. Yes, every successful project carries a clear goal and efficient execution.

Hence, in your case…


Is the goal clear?

A well-defined project goal helps complete a project successfully. What if the project goal is not clear? Or it’s clear, but you’re not sure whether it’s right for you or not?

Setting SMART goals is very important while driving critical business initiatives.

Smart Goal, Project Management Blog


Make sure the following components are well-defined:

  • The goal is realistic
  • The goal has a defined timeline by which it has to be met
  • The goal is broken down into smaller actionable targets spread over the entire duration of the initiative
  • The goal has proper measurable metrics defined and reported
  • The ROI is well understood

Top 7 Project Management Statistics You Should Know

  1. Organizations waste 12% of their resources due to poor project management.
  2. More than 70% of managers manage multiple projects
  3. 54% of the workforce believes that they could save more than 5 hours by using automation tools.
  4. Only 2.5% of companies completed 100% of their projects successfully.
  5. 38% of organizations believe that vagueness surrounding job roles and responsibilities is the biggest obstacle to a project’s success.
  6. 20% of workers have reported that a hectic workload is the main reason for employee burnout.
  7. 37% of the project fails due to a lack of clear goals and vision.

What are the consequences of an unclear project goal?

When your business goals aren’t clear, your business productivity and competitiveness go down.

Here are 3 consequences of unclear project goals:

You will never complete your work:

Unclear goals never allow you to get your work “DONE!”

The team is always in a state of wonderness and they all try to interpret it in their own way.

Everyone involved thinks his interpretation is the right thing to do and charts out his own path.

And you end up in absolute chaos!

The first and foremost thing to do is, to get a clear definition of the project goal under all circumstances.

Initiate discussions, and schedule meetings or team sessions to capture all relevant aspects of the initiative.

Identify the true objective and requirements and ensure the project team is in sync with the stakeholders.

Do not even plan for execution unless you have a proper agreement from the business sponsor, client, and other stakeholders.

The path is not easy. Sure! But your team and customers will thank you for it.

Because starting up without a proper project goal will only lead to a significant loss of revenue, efforts, and resources. No business likes that!

Pro Tip: No matter, what it is. Have a sign-off. Remember you are accountable!

You will miss your goals:

What will you achieve when you don’t know what is supposed to be done?

The Internet is flooded with memes where what the customer wanted, what was understood, and what was delivered at the end were miles apart!

Requirement Mismatch, Project Management Blog


Imagine, the loss of reputation! It is hard to bounce back from such a blunder!

As a Project Manager, one of your most critical success factors is answering “What’s in it for me (WIFM)” for your team.

They will not follow you if they do not see personal enrichment for their careers in the project.

All initiatives always bring with them challenges, learning, and innovation. If these are not visible and understood the team would never be motivated.

  • How would you generate the required outputs when the team’s heart isn’t there?
  • Whom would you bill for the unproductive hours?
  • How would you compensate for the loss of revenue?
  • How would you build team morale?

Lastly, how do you deal with all of these?

You lose before you start! But the good thing is, you don’t have to!

Once you have the sign-off on the goals, get going with the project implementation plan.

Focus on the work breakdown structure (WBS) and make one that is robust and can accommodate changes if needed.

Define tasks and subtasks with the required information, dependencies with other tasks and task linking, proper assignee, due dates, & estimated hours, and leave no scope for guesswork.

Use Kanban boards, time tracking, and Gantt charts to help your team see their actions in absolutely grandiose!

They will love it!

Pro Tip: Commit enough time, go to great lengths if you have to, but give your teams clear, actionable, and measurable goals. They deserve it!

You will not be able to monitor and measure:

You cannot measure what you do not monitor!

The first step is knowing what to monitor and why?

All your team members are actively working, putting in long hours, and highly engaged. Sounds great! Looks great too!

But, at the end of the day, the customer and stakeholders aren’t happy. They do not see deliverables meeting their desired outcomes.

And they are highly dissatisfied, annoyed and so is the team.

What is wrong here?

This is the most common cause of expectations mismanagement. The team is right and so are the stakeholders.

And the Root Cause Analysis (RCA) [if I may call it that] says – what the team thinks the customer wants and what the customer actually wants aren’t the same! Surprise, Surprise!

You, my friend, are caught in the crossfire! And why not?

  • You are the one who jumped into execution without clear goals
  • You never defined what will be delivered, by whom, and when
  • You never agreed on success criteria
  • You never defined how you are gonna demonstrate progress

It is that simple! Isn’t it?

So what now?

To start with, ensure the actions you missed above are marked “DONE” before you start project execution.

Now, follow those up with a centralized project management platform that captures all the team’s hard work in real-time.

Have your metrics around the project status, actual vs planned hours, billable hours, resource utilization, resource availability, project expenses, project and milestone progress, and overdue task reports handy.

Make them accessible to the relevant stakeholders for insightful decision-making and preventing delays.

To add to it, real-time monitoring keeps the team focused on the project goals & committed to achieving them on time and with quality.

Needless to mention that it would be a significant win for any project manager!

Pro Tip: KPIs, Metrics, and Dashboards are crucial in ensuring you are not falling apart from your goals.

How to Bring Clarity in Project Scope, Purpose, and Planning?


All projects require a briefing prompted by the project leaders and managers where the team sets clearly defined benefits as well as establishes the measures of success and KPIs.

To achieve a clear purpose, all the team members must understand the reason behind the project development and how the project will be beneficial both to the developers, the product owners, and the end users.


All the groups of the project development team view success differently, so it becomes essential there should be transparent communication between all the team members from the beginning of the project to the delivery.

All the stakeholders should understand the project, its requirements, how it will be managed, the contact person in case of development issues, and the expected outcome.


After the plan has been laid out and then there is a good understanding of communication the next stage of effective project development is execution as per the plan.

To ensure that there is a progressive and effective execution of projects the team members must establish a periodic review to measure if the development is in line with the established measure of success and KPIs. This further promotes re-adjusting of the execution process to stay true to the desired project outcome.


As the project progresses it becomes essential for the team members to assess if the project is going as expected. If there are any unforeseen circumstances it could change the outcome if the communication is not consistent and clear.

So, to keep the project on track the communication needs to be updated as well to lay out new strategies and goals based on changing project needs.


Each team member and leader must be fully informed and must understand their roles in the project. They should be clear on how they will achieve their goals and what parts of the project they are responsible for.


Team leaders and managers must define each task, with the list of resources they have or hire in order to complete the task.

Decision Making

Each leader and team member needs to understand the ownership, responsibilities, and level of freedom they have in order to act on their tasks.

It should be clear what limitations and dependencies they have that could prevent their action, and deliverables, such as time, budget, and resources.


The changes in the project need to be reviewed to see if the project is progressing in the right direction. Sometimes situations may change mid-way through the project and if it has it needs to be addressed and implemented in order to achieve the project deliverables.


If you are going on an adventurous trip with your family, you would most likely draw a map to your destination.

That’s obvious! Right? Similarly, if you want your business to grow and your projects to be successful, why wouldn’t you do the same?

Do you think your goals are clear enough?

Share your thoughts below in the comment box. I would love to hear from you 🙂

Orangescrum is an all-in-one project collaboration tool designed to help project managers create better project plans and manage project executions effectively. Schedule a product demo now

Orangescrum gives unlimited storage for any number of projects to your whole team for free.

Orangescrum gives unlimited storage for any number of projects to your whole team for free.


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