The Dens Park team finished sixth in the table as they competed among the elite in the SPFL Premiership, having won promotion from the Championship the year before.
Manager Hartley has signed eight new players so far this summer and has not ruled out more additions before the transfer window closes.
Although he has a large group of players to integrate into his side, the former Celtic and Hearts player wants a strong start and thinks a range of improvements are possible.
Hartley told Sky Sports News HQ: “I think the aim is to try and get better than we did last year in terms of more points, finishing higher, doing better in the cups.
“We want to score more goals, win more at home, concede less goals and we want to lose fewer games. We’ve set the bar high. Every cup competition we enter, we’ll play our strongest team no matter who we’re playing against.
“One thing we want to do this year is do well in the cups. We had a couple of difficult ties last year but we want to do well there and in the league also.”
Dundee returned for pre-season training on Thursday and are due to spend time at a training camp in Hungary after doing the same thing last summer.
While there, they will be put through gruelling triple sessions and Hartley is confident of getting what he wants from those working under him.
He added: “I’m really pleased with the squad I’ve got. It’s exciting and they have come back in terrific condition.
“I’m happy with the players we’ve brought in. We managed to get all the targets we looked at and I think we’ve got a terrific squad.”