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reserved. Reproduction whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of
EarthWeb is prohibited. Read EarthWeb's privacy statement. www.erpvn.net Fundamentals of Project Management
by James P. Lewis
ISBN: 0814478352 Pub Date: 01/01/95
Search Tips Search this book: Advanced Search Previous Table of Contents Next Title ----------- We all know that some people are capable of more output than others. So the measurement and attainability
aspects of goal- or objective-setting are very difficult to determine. I have found the following two questions
to be useful both in setting objectives and in monitoring progress toward those objectives:
1. What is our desired outcome? This is called the outcome frame. It helps keep you focused on the
result you are trying to achieve, rather than on the effort being expended to get there.
2. How will you know when you achieve it? I call this the evidence question; it is very useful for
establishing exit criteria for objectives that cannot be quantified.
Some Examples of Objectives
• Our objective is to develop a one-minute commercial to solicit contributions to WXYZ to air on local
TV stations by June 5, 199X.
• Our objective is to raise $600,000 from local viewers by September 18, 199X.
It is helpful to assess risks of failure of the following:
• The schedule
• The budget
• Project quality
• Customer satisfaction
The Nature of Objectives
In the examples of objectives that I have given, I do not say how they will be achieved. I consider an objective
to be a statement that tells me what result is to be achieved. The how is problem solving, and I prefer to keep
that open so that solutions can be brainstormed later. If the approach is written into the objective statement, it
may lock a team into a method that is not really the best. ASSESSING PROJECT RISKS
Once objectives have been established for areas such as scheduling, budgeting, project quality, and customer
satisfaction, plans can be developed for how to achieve them. Unfortunately, the best plans sometimes don’t
work. One safeguard in managing projects is to think about the risks of failure that could sink the job. This
can be done for critical objectives and for other parts of the plan. The simplest way to conduct a risk analysis is to ask, “What could go wrong?” or “What could keep us from achieving our objective?”
It is usually best to list risks first, then to think about contingencies for dealing with them. One approach is to
divide a flipchart page in half and have the group brainstorm the risks, which are tabulated down the left side
of the page. You then come back and list contingencies—things you can do about risks if they do materialize.
One benefit of doing a risk analysis in this manner is that it can help you to minimize risks. When you cannot
eliminate a risk, you can at least have a backup plan. It is common to find that unexpected risks can throw a
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