How to Plan a CMS Project - Objectives, Outputs and Outcomes

Understanding the difference between objectives, outputs, and outcomes takes time but when grasped, is a powerful way to cut through to what's behind a particular request or desire. Once you can break it down to the outcome, it can help you to come up with other ways to achieve the same result and give you more flexibility in solving a particular problem. Here's a brief explanation:

  • The objective is what we are aiming to achieve.

  • The output is what we actually deliver.

  • The outcome is what the business gains from our output.

For example, a particular objective might be to improve customer service, the output is a searchable products database, the outcome is a decrease in calls to the call centre. The following table shows how to represent this for the client so they can see what each element means in context:




Implement e-commerce

Online shopping facility

Increased revenue

Provide more information to customers online

Content management system

Increase efficiency

Improve customer service

Publish timetables online

Reduce costs for call centre

In reality, there are only two outcomes that a business is after:

  • Reduce cost by improving efficiency

  • Increase revenue

If you boil everything down, an objective should lead to one of these outcomes, otherwise you need to question why you're doing it. For non-commercial organizations, e.g. government or not for profits—it can be different as they may truly have non-financial goals to achieve but for a business, it's either saving money or making money.