A Guide to Project Management Office Goal Setting

December brings thoughts of the holiday season, shopping, family and friends, rich food, potent drink and everyone’s favorite year-end activity…goal planning! Yes, that most joyous time of year where individual goals and measures for the New Year are created in the infamous ‘SMART’ (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based) goal format. Hopefully by now, executive management teams have held their strategic retreats and have set the organizational vision and strategy for the coming year. That way, goals can then be rolled up, collectively aligned against the established organizational vision and strategy, calibrated across departments and business lines, re-aligned with strategy and finally, approved and logged within your employee relationship/performance management tool of choice.


Tongue-in-cheek humor aside, year-end goal planning is important, especially for project managers and Project Management Offices. Having a goal means you have a target to work towards. Organizations grow, change and improve by setting goal targets. Sometimes these goals are intentionally simple to achieve, while other times they are more “BHAG”ish (Big, Hairy and Audacious Goals – hat tip to Mr. Collins) in nature. Regardless, all organizations need them if they hope to be successful.

For individual Project Managers and other project professionals in the Project Management Office, goal setting is usually pretty straightforward. You align a number of project-specific goals with some self-development or team-based goals and away you go. In some organizations, these “individual” goals may be provided for you. Seems a bit counter-intuitive, but it happens more than you might think. Setting goals and measures for the entire PMO, however, can be a daunting task. At the PMO level, considerations need to be made across a number of factors such as strategic alignment, project execution metrics, resource management, stakeholder satisfaction, to name but a few.

PM Plan vs Reality

The first part of goal development at the PMO level is to establish the various themes under which goals and measures need to be created.

Next, create at least one goal for each theme.  All joking aside, the SMART concept is a good frame of reference for building a goal that you can actually achieve and track.  Don’t get carried away, but let it at least guide you as you draft the specific goal(s) for each theme area.

Finally, identify key performance metrics that you already utilize or have the data to measure for each of the goals and themes listed.  There are two adages, however, that I’ve always strived to remember during goal setting and KPI exercises:

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

“Just because you have the data, doesn’t mean you have to use it.”


This is a comprehensive list of what COULD make up goals and measures for a PMO or similar structure.  Select a few to get you started.  Solicit the feedback of your executive leadership team.  Ask the stakeholders of your PMO what they would like to see measured.  This will help you round out the remaining goals important for guiding and validating your success into the new year!


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