To manage a project effectively, the first requires understanding priorities involved, including tasks, resources, stakeholders, and deadlines. Prioritizing is an ongoing process as new tasks may arise, existing tasks might change their characteristics, and resource availability may vary during the project.

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Determining Ultimate Objectives

Following the delineation of project sphere, one might assume that it’s time to start the project. However, before that, it is crucial to determine the ultimate objectives. An ultimate objective encapsulates the overarching aim that the project aims to achieve. It should be concise and clear, which could successfully direct the project team and stakeholders’ focus toward a common goal.

Tools for Assessing Priorities and Determining Objectives

Several project management tools can facilitate prioritization process and objective setting. These include the Eisenhower Matrix, MoSCoW method, and SMART criteria.

The Eisenhower Matrix, named after President Dwight D. Eisenhower, helps in prioritizing tasks by urgency and importance, sorting out less urgent and important tasks which you should either delegate or not do at all.

The MoSCoW (Must-have, Should-have, Could-have, Won’t-have this time) prioritization method, widely used in Agile project management, helps teams understand project requirements and prioritize them.

The SMART criteria (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) ensure objectives are clear, achievable and tied to a timeline.

Assessment & Objectives: A Real World Example

Consider a software development project. The project manager has the task of creating a new online platform for a publishing company. There are myriad tasks associated with such a task, including UI design, server setup, software coding, beta testing and more.

Here’s how priorities might be set:

  • Using the Eisenhower Matrix: Urgent tasks could include hiring a software development team and initial meetings with stakeholders. Important tasks would include the overall design of the platform and server setup. Less urgent and important tasks might consist of setting up social media accounts or planning the launch party.
  • Applying the MoSCoW method: Must-have requirements for the project could consist of a robust search function and user-friendly design. Should-have requirements might include a mobile app version of the platform. Could-have requirements could be a future integration of online forums. Won’t-have requirements might include extras like an integrated ecommerce store or a virtual reality viewing option.

The SMART objective for this project could be: ‘Develop a user-friendly online platform for publisher ABC, enabling users to search and view e-books, with robust backend support, to be fully operational and launched by the end of Q4.’

This objective is Specific (develop an online platform), Measurable (fully operational and launched), Achievable (with hired professionals), Relevant (enables searching and viewing of ebooks for the publishing company), and Time-bound (by the end of Q4).


To be effective project managers and to succeed in the PMP certification exam, it is crucial to understand the concept of assessing priorities and determining the ultimate objectives. This will help in ensuring the alignment of all project activities towards a common goal and foster smooth collaboration among team members and stakeholders.

However, these are just tools and methods to help structure and formulate a project’s priorities and objectives. A successful project manager must adapt these tools to fit their project’s unique context and requirements, thereby ensuring that they are efficiently applied and truly beneficial in shaping the course of the project.

Practice Test

True or False: During project management, it is essential to assess priorities and determine ultimate objectives from the start.

  • True
  • False

Answer: True

Explanation: It is vital to establish priorities and determine ultimate objectives at the beginning of a project. This helps to provide clear guidance and direction throughout the entire project lifecycle.

In project management, the ultimate objectives ____

  • A. are the specific, tangible, and measurable outcomes that must be achieved to consider the project as successful.
  • B. can be changed anytime without affecting project progress.
  • C. don’t carry much importance in the overall project success.

Answer: A

Explanation: Ultimately, the objectives drive everything in a project. They must be specific, tangible, measurable, and attainable; otherwise, assessing a project’s success would be difficult.

True or False: Avoidance of scope creep is not linked with assessment and prioritization of project objectives.

  • True
  • False

Answer: False

Explanation: Scope creep happens when the project’s scope unintentionally gets expanded. Avoiding scope creep requires a firm grasp of the project’s top priorities and ultimate objectives.

In the context of Project Management, the term ‘Trade-off’ typically refers to _________.

  • A. Exchanging project resources
  • B. Choosing between conflicting objectives
  • C. Time required to complete the project

Answer: B

Explanation: ‘Trade-off’ refers to decision-making process often driven by the need to balance competing project objectives and priorities.

True or False: The ultimate project objective should be flexible enough to accommodate all changes in project scope and schedule.

  • True
  • False

Answer: False

Explanation: While it’s important to allow for some flexibility in project objectives, too much flexibility may lead to scope creep and project derailment.

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) primarily helps a project manager in ______.

  • A. Managing project’s funds
  • B. Sub-dividing project deliverables into manageable components
  • C. Assigning resources

Answer: B

Explanation: In project management, Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a comprehensive, hierarchical tree structure of deliverables and tasks that need to be performed to complete a project.

True or False: Prioritizing of tasks in project management has no significant effect on the project’s ultimate objectives.

  • True
  • False

Answer: False

Explanation: In any project, prioritizing tasks directly impacts the achievement of the ultimate objectives. Higher priority tasks often have direct linkage to ultimate objectives of the project.

Project prioritization is a process that allows _________________.

  • A. Equal attention to all projects
  • B. Deciding the profitability of the project
  • C. Deciding which project deserves the most attention based on strategic alignment, risks, profitability, and other factors

Answer: C

Explanation: Project prioritization helps in deciding where to allocate resources and efforts, thus it’s based on multiple factors including strategic alignment, risks, and profitability.

True or False: In project management, it’s not necessary for ultimate objectives to align with the organization’s strategic goals.

  • True
  • False

Answer: False

Explanation: For a project to be considered successful, its ultimate objectives must align with the strategy and goals of the organization.

A project manager should assess and adjust the priorities of the project ______.

  • A. Only at the beginning of the project
  • B. Based on the changes in project’s internal and external environment
  • C. Only when the project is not going as planned

Answer: B

Explanation: Project priorities need to be revisited and adjusted throughout the project lifecycle based upon changes in project’s internal and external environment to ensure project’s ultimate success.

Interview Questions

What is the main objective of assessing priorities in project management?

The main objective of assessing priorities in project management is to decide on the order and sequence of tasks based on their importance, dependency, and impact on the project’s overall objective(s).

What is the Project Management Triangle and how does it help to assess priorities?

The Project Management Triangle, also known as the Triple Constraint, consists of the three key dimensions of a project: scope, time, and cost. It helps to assess priorities by determining the feasibility of project objectives within these constraints. Balancing these constraints is usually a major priority.

Why is stakeholder engagement necessary when determining ultimate objectives?

Stakeholder engagement provides valuable insights into their expectations, needs, and possible risks. These insights can influence the project’s ultimate objectives and can be vital in shaping the project’s path and outcome.

How does the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) aid in the assessment of project priorities?

The WBS breaks down the work into manageable sections that allow for more detailed resource allocation and timeline estimations. These sections help in understanding the hierarchical structure of the project and allow for better priority assessment.

What is Critical Path Method (CPM)?

The Critical Path Method (CPM) is a step-by-step project management technique for process planning that defines critical and non-critical tasks with the goal of preventing timeframe problems and process bottlenecks.

How can risk management influence the assessment of project priorities?

Risk management can significantly influence the assessment of project priorities. High risk tasks may need to be given higher priority to ensure that they are properly managed and mitigated, thereby reducing the potential negative impact on the project.

What role does communication play in setting project priorities and ultimate objectives?

Communication plays a significant role in setting project priorities and ultimate objectives. It ensures that all team members understand the priorities and objectives, and fosters transparency and collaboration in achieving them.

What factors should you consider when determining the ultimate objectives of a project?

When determining the ultimate objectives of a project, you should consider factors such as stakeholder expectations, available resources, potential risks, time constraints, and the strategic alignment with business goals.

How can a Project Management Information System (PMIS) tool help manage project priorities?

A PMIS tool can help manage project priorities by providing a centralized platform for tracking and controlling projects. It enhances visibility, transparency, accountability, and facilitates effective communication, thereby enabling better decision-making.

Why is it important to identify the dependencies between tasks during the process of determining priorities?

Identifying dependencies between tasks is important in determining priorities because it helps to understand the sequence in which tasks must be carried out. It helps to avoid bottleneck situations, delays and potential risks.

What is the role of project scope in setting the ultimate project objectives?

The Project Scope outlines the goals, tasks, costs, and deadlines of the project. It sets the boundaries and thus provides a clear understanding of what needs to be achieved, thus helping in setting the ultimate project objectives.

What is the significance of the project baseline in assessing the priorities?

The project baseline – an approved version of the project plan – is significant in assessing the priorities as it serves as a measurement to compare the actual achievements and performance of the project, and can help reassess priorities if required.

How do you use the MoSCoW method to prioritize project requirements?

The MoSCoW method sorts requirements into four categories: must-haves, should-haves, could-haves, and won’t-haves. This helps prioritize the requirements based on their necessity and impact, enabling more effective resource allocation and schedule management.

Why is it crucial to align project objectives with organizational objectives?

It’s crucial to align project objectives with organizational objectives to ensure that the project contributes to the overall business goals. This alignment also ensures the project receives the necessary support and resources from the organization.

How does prioritization help in efficient resource allocation?

Prioritization helps identify the tasks that hold the highest value for the project. Consequently, resources can be allocated appropriately ensuring that high-value tasks are adequately resourced and conducted efficiently.

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