Bob Fernley says Force India must look to Williams as the team to emulate as they are the benchmark for independent outfits.
Although Williams have experienced championship glory it has been almost two decades since they last claimed a title, winning the double in 1997.
What followed was a huge slump in form which the Grove team managed to reserve after switching to Mercedes engines in 2014.
That year they finished third in the Constructors' Championship, a feat they repeated last season.
As such Force India's deputy team principal Fernley says his team needs to look to Williams as the team they want to emulate.
"The best that we can achieve, in reality, is what Williams are doing, and that should be our goal," he told Autosport.
"I think Williams are the benchmark of an independent team's performance, with them challenging for podiums.
"The chances are, unless something desperately goes wrong elsewhere, they're not going to win a race, and they're certainly not going to win a championship."
Pressed as to what Force India needed to do to reach Williams' level, Fernley admitted his team's aerodynamic package was lacking compared to the Grove outfit.
"Clearly aero-wise Williams are doing a slightly better job, which shows we can do more," he explained.
"If you look at the performance graphs over the second half of last season, we were chipping away at that a little bit.
"We're obviously playing catch-up, which is a relatively slow process.
"As we're doing that, they're still moving on, so there's work to do."