How many times have you heard the phrase “SMART goals” and failed to understand what it really means? We bet it happens all the time because project managers are often too busy to look for alternative solutions or learn new techniques.
Generally speaking, statistical reports show that only 3% of people actually use the SMART goal principle, but those who do it tend to achieve 10 times as much as people without goals. At the same time, more than 80% of managers say that their goals are limited in number, specific, and measurable.
That is not the right way to manage a business project, so let us show you what SMART objectives really are and explain how to write them for your projects.
SMART Goals Explained
We can say a lot of things about SMART goals, but let’s start with the obvious detail: What the heck SMART stands for here? It’s the acronym and it’s made of five words: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Jake Gardner, a project manager at uk.bestessays.com, explains that the SMART technique is designed to point out the most important characteristics of every goal-setting process: “Instead of wandering in the dark, you should use these objectives to target and achieve concrete results.”
But let’s not leave it up to the acronym alone. Here’s what every word stands for:
- Specific: The first thing you need to do is to set a highly specific goal. This basically means understanding what you want to do and who’s in charge of the task. You also need to figure out when, why, where, and how the project is supposed to run.
- Measurable: Let’s imagine you are running a website and want to grow the number of visitors. It sounds like a reasonable goal, but it’s not exactly measurable. You should make it much more tangible simply by converting your awareness objectives into numbers. For instance, you can say that you want to grow the number of website visitors by 5% in the next quarter.
- Attainable: You’ve seen the first couple of features, but don’t let it make you unrealistic. The point is to set attainable objectives that you and your team can really pull off. If you don’t do it like that, rest assured every project will be a failure.
- Relevant: This one goes without saying, but sometimes it helps project managers to keep the focus and concentrate on tasks that really matter to their companies.
- Time-bound: Of course, you cannot run a project forever. The only way to make it successful is by setting clear timeframes that your colleagues can follow and get the job done as expected.
How to Define SMART Project Objectives
The concept of SMART goals is easy to figure out, but it might be challenging to put ideas into practice and start working based on these principles. So, how do you define SMART objectives for a certain project?
It’s a difficult question because it depends on the size of the organization, the budget, and the business you’re in, but we can give you a few instructions that will surely work in 100% of cases. Here they go:
1. Narrow it down
A project goal cannot be truly SMART if you don’t narrow it down. This means you should focus on a small portion of the project and set clear deliverables based on a limited number of factors that really make the difference.
Do you know that almost 50% of team leaders say hitting project deadlines is their biggest problem? It happens because any given task can be analyzed from different points of view, but it’s not a good idea to delve too deep into the details. You should learn to prioritize instead because it’s a surefire way to get the job done on time and on budget.
3. Delegate tasks properly
Now that you’ve learned to focus on important features and prioritize business objectives, task delegation should not be a problem. Assign each member of the team with a clearly-defined scope of work and you won’t have a problem following the SMART methodology.
4. Examples of SMART Objectives
Setting SMART objectives sounds perfect in theory, but it looks even more impressive when you see real-life examples. Here are a few examples that can inspire you easily:
Our website content designer will make one infographic per week in the next quarter
This goal is specific because it defines all of the basic 5W+H questions (who, what, where, when, why, and how). It is easy to measure and also attainable, while the task itself is relevant to a given website and time-bound.
The marketing department must obtain 10 website backlinks in the following month
There’s another example of a SMART objective. As you can see, it not only follows SMART principles but also respects the instructions we discussed above. Namely, the task is very focused as it concentrates on backlinks, a feature that every website needs in order to become SEO friendlier and earn more visits.
Turn 10% of this month’s first-time customers into recurring clients
According to the famous Pareto principles, businesses make 80% of their profits from regular clients. This is exactly why one of your goals might be to turn first-time buyers into recurring customers. As you can see, we set a highly specific objective that requires little to no further explanations.
The Bottom Line
Do you want to get up early or get up at 5 AM? There’s a huge difference between the two decisions, so you ought to set precise plans for the day to come.
The same principle applies to project management but only on a large scale. This is what makes SMART goal-setting so critical and fundamental to the success of every business endeavor.
We made this post to help you figure out the true meaning of the concept of SMART objectives while explaining how to write them for your own projects. Do you think you can improve your project management skills with SMART goals? Let us know in the comments!