Project Objective Setting (Best Practice)

RT-012b Topic Summary
RT 012b


Capital facility construction projects are extremely complex, typically involve several organizations, and represent significant financial investments. All parties involved in the construction process; owners, designers, and constructors strive for project success. This research concludes that the objective-setting process is a major determinant of project success. 

For projects to be successful, all project participants must share the same set of objectives and priorities. The Agreement Matrix developed by this research team provides an efficient and effective tool for managing project objectives. The true value of this Agreement Matrix is to address obstacles to project success among participants. The Agreement Index is a measure of true team work in achieving project objectives.

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : Management of Objectives

The process by which objectives are formulated and communicated between owner, designer, and constructor is fundamental to project success. Objectives originate from the owner’s internal organization. All of the objective setting phases are the responsibility of the owner, regardless of how many outside agencies are contracted to aid in the planning, programming, design, and construction of a project. (RS12-1, p. 1)

Reference: (RS12-1)

2 : Problems in the Objective-Setting Process

Three major problem areas exist in the objective-setting environment. (RS12-1, p. 3)

  • Conflicting suborganization objectives
  • Differing objectives within designer and contractor organizations
  • Dissimilar or incompatible objectives in developing a single project strategy
Reference: (RS12-1)

3 : Four Critical Elements of Managing Project Objectives

Four critical elements of managing project objectives include: (RS12-1, p. 4)

  • An extensive methodology for study and fact-finding
  • A method to bring the various suborganizations together
  • A method to convey the objectives to responsible parties
  • A method to obtain feedback, provide direction or redirection, and measure agreement between parties
Reference: (RS12-1)

4 : Communication of Objectives

This research identified several key mechanisms important for effective communication of objectives, including:(RS12-1, p. 5)

  • Primary mechanisms such as project execution plan, written scope of work, contract documents, and others as indicated in the publication to convey a clear, consistent set of objectives and priorities to guide the project execution.
  • Reinforcing mechanisms such as incentives, correspondence, weekly meetings, executive level reinforcement, and others as indicated in the publication to provide a framework for a team-oriented approach where the objectives of the owner, designer, and constructor come together.
  • In addition, the research identifies several stressing mechanisms that create situations of incompatible objectives such as poorly defined scope of work, inconsistent scope requirements, poorly designed project communication system, lack of proper expertise, a dominant external objective, and lack of project controls.
Reference: (RS12-1)

5 : Implementation Tool #1

RS12-1, Agreement Matrix

Is a tool to measure agreement between the objectives of the project participants at intermediate points in a project, and can offer insight into areas of inconsistency about objectives and priorities among the owner, designer, and constructor. It is a straightforward management tool to apply the basic principles of management by objective (MBO) to projects with multiple corporate participants. (RS12-1, p. 9) 

Reference: (RS12-1)

Key Performance Indicators

Improved cost, Improved schedule, Improved performance/achieved success, Reduced/improved risk

Research Publications

Project Objective Setting, Second Edition - RS12-1

Publication Date: 09/2003 Type: Research Summary Pages: 22 Status: Tool

Project Objective-Setting by Owners and Contractors - SD-31

Publication Date: 08/1987 Type: Source Document Pages: 186 Status: Reference