Foundations for Excellence

What Is an Objective?

Nuts and Bolts IconObjectives expand on the goal by identifying the tasks that will need to be accomplished. Objectives quantify the services that will be delivered within a given period of time. They are written as actions to be accomplished. Use the acronym SMART to define the action as Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. If goals are your destination, measurable objectives are your mile markers along the way.

Tips for Developing Measurable Objectives

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Goals keep your eyes on the prize. Objectives help you hit the nail on the head.

Where the goal is a BROAD statement of what your program expects to accomplish, an objective describes a specific action or result to be achieved. One goal is likely to have several objectives.

Be careful to distinguish between objectives and action steps. Think of objectives as your yardstick. Objectives enable you to measure and stay alert as you make incremental progress toward your goal. While the objective is a statement of what a program wants to achieve, it is not yet a statement of how the program will get there. How you get there, the action plan, is built on a series of specific action steps.

Consider including financial objectives as well as program objectives. Goals often require a commitment of resources. Financial objectives ensure that the program is financially committed to its goals.

Your budget is a numerical expression of your program’s goals and objectives. A financial objective may be represented in your program budget and budget narrative, and it can appear as the designated and secured source of financing that will support your action plan. If it requires money, even the best plan will not happen if that money is not available. Programs can also establish independent fiscal goals such as decreasing staff turnover by increasing pay of classroom teachers. This is a separate goal and not simply an objective within the scope of an existing goal.

Outcome and Expected Outcome Venn Diagram

This Venn diagram shows the similarities and differences between goals and objectives.

Topic:Program Planning

Resource Type: Article

National Centers: Program Management and Fiscal Operations

Last Updated: January 17, 2019