Documenting Strategic Goals

Most projects I’ve worked on have had a set of strategic goals that the project was supposed to realise. However, most people working on those projects could not say what the goals were or where they could be looked up.

Even on projects where the goals were stated and available, they were not always clearly articulated or well-structured. This post is not about analysing the business in order to identify the goals; it’s about putting structure on them once they have been identified.

I propose using the syntax of a user story to describe strategic goals. This syntax makes clear:

1. The goal owner

2. The goal itself

3. The business value of realising that goal

Most strategic goals I have seen only articulate the goal itself, which is important. But to whom do we go if we need to discuss that goal? The owner (knowing the owner also tells us at what level within the organisation the goal is relevant). What tells us why the goal is important to the business? The business value.

There is more to it, however. We also need to know:

– The relative priority of each goal

– The time-frame within which it can, should and must be achieved

– The impact on the business should a time-frame be missed

– The date the goal was last reviewed with the owner

– A list of inputs that were used in producing that goal (in case anyone wants to understand its background), such as: PESTLE analysis, SWOT analysis, Resource analysis, Portfolio analysis, Growth/Share analysis, Benchmarking analysis, Future state business model.

This gives you a very simple tabular format that can be expressed in a slide, document, spreadsheet, wiki, Sharepoint page, or even just on index cards:

As a: State the title (not the name) of the owner of the goal, e.g., “Chief Operations Officer”]

I need: State the goal itself

So that: State the business value in achieving this goal

Priority: State the relative business priority of this goal

Time-frame: Specify at least the first two of the following: Target (indicates the ideal or the minimum time-frame), Late (indicates and acceptable, but less than ideal, time-frame), Deadline (indicate the point beyond which there is no sense in pursuing this goal)]

Impact of Miss: For each of the time-frames, detail the expected impact on the business should the time-frame be missed

Date Last Reviewed:

Inputs: List the inputs

Declan Chellar