Digital Leadership & Soft Skills

Setting Project Goals: Zielkreuz method

Published by Pavel Nakonechnyy on (updated: ) in Project Management.
Setting Project Goals: Zielkreuz method

In English-speaking world we are used to hear SMART when talking about goals. However, German has an alternative – Zielkreuz, translated as Target Cross.

In order to formulate overarching goals or sub-goals of a development project and to set milestones and indicators, it is also advisable to work with the crosshairs. It is particularly good for visualizing the different dimensions of a goal.

In a nutshell

Why, what, how and for whom? With the help of the target cross, project goals can be quickly determined and clearly visualized.

What is the target cross?

The target cross is a simple method in project management to identify and clearly present a project goal . The basic idea: The goal is defined in more detail with the help of four important questions:

The target cross is particularly well suited for workshops at the beginning of a project when many ideas are still vague and need to be specified. This is exactly what you and your team can do by going through the four components of the crosshairs one after the other.

The project is first broken down into four levels, on the basis of which the project goals are ultimately determined. They can be visualized using the four quadrants of a crosshair.

When SMART defines what are the characteristics of a good goal, Zielkreuz helps to understand what domains goals should specify.

SMART goals that are reflected using a target cross and recorded as part of a plan for goals, milestones and indicators strengthen every project and ensure that development is successful in the long term.


1. Sense and purpose

WHY is the project carried out?

The basic motivation for carrying out the project should be clear to everyone involved. In many projects, the question of why is easily answered. Imagine a marketing agency that needs to build a new website for a client. The benefit of the project is clear: a new order and sales are generated.

But what about internal projects? Why should the new process for optimizing throughput times be introduced in production? Here it is important to collect arguments and to clearly formulate the project benefit .

You should answer the following questions:

  • Why is the project being carried out at all?
  • What benefits do the client and team expect from this?

2. The end result

WHAT do we want to achieve?

Next to the why , the what is one of the most important parts of the target cross. The project results and deliverables are formulated here, which should have been created after the end of the project period. The rule here is: the more specific, the better. Only in this way can a target fulfill its control function.

The following questions help with the formulation:

  • What should have happened in the end?
  • What is the expected end result?
  • What should be delivered?

3. Stakeholders

WHO is involved?

Quick reminder: Stakeholders are all affected, interested and involved people in a project. At this point you should not carry out a complete stakeholder analysis, but at least know the most important key people . Why? Because stakeholders also have goals and you need to know which of them need to be considered in your project.

The following questions will help you with the selection:

  • Who is affected by the project?
  • Who benefits from the project?
  • Who is a possible opponent?
  • Who is responsible for the project?

The more you know about your stakeholders, the sooner you can consider their goals in the project and increase the likelihood of satisfied participants.

4. Measurement Criteria

HOW is the result measured?

This item is closely related to the Outcome quadrant. While there the what is formulated, here it is about the how well. Traditionally, hard measurement criteria should be formulated here:

  • How is the result measured?
  • How can the quality be checked?
  • Which concrete values indicate whether the project is successful?

Practical tips on the Zielkreuz

The crosshair works particularly well in the following situations:

  • When a lot of information is still unclear in an early project phase and needs to be structured
  • When a team wants to work together to flesh out the project idea
  • When several participants are to be brought to the same level
  • If the most important framework conditions of the project are to be presented clearly

If the crosshairs are developed in a team, the following procedure has proven itself:

  1. A separate flipchart is used for each area and the results are entered.
  2. At the end, all the information is combined into a project goal.


A clear definition of goals is one of the most important aspects of project management, especially in waterfall project management. The target cross is a useful and simple method to structure basic project ideas and to convert them into project goals.