S.M.A.R.T. Goals Provide Structure and Orientation During a Project

Are you overwhelmed at the beginning of a project? Do you find it difficult to increase team productivity? The secret to mastering common project challenges is to set the right goals.

SMART goals are designed to provide structure and orientation during a project. They clarify what you want to achieve. This method effectively helps your employees set goals that are aligned with your business goals.

What Are SMART Goals?

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym and stands for Specific – Measurable – Achievable – Reasonable – Time Bound.

SMART goals are a relatively new idea, raised by George T. Doran in his 1981 article "There's a SMART Way to Write Management's Goals and Objectives". SMART goals serve, for example, in project management, in the context of employee leadership and personnel development as a criterion for the clear definition of goals within the framework of a goal agreement.

The consistent application of "SMART" results in clear, measurable and verifiable objectives:

  • Long-term goals = pointing the way = strategic goals
  • Medium and short-term goals = tactical goals

What Does the Acronym SMART Stand For?

A target is only SMART if it meets these five conditions:

SMART goals

S - Specific

Goals must be clearly defined. Do not formulate it vaguely, but as precisely as possible. Use the W questions to compile precise information:

  • Who needs to be involved to reach the goal?
  • What are you trying to achieve?
  • When do you reach the goal? Set a timeframe.
  • Where? Is there a location or a relevant event for the goal?
  • What obstacles or requirements are associated with the target?
  • Why - What is the reason for the target to be set?

M - Measurable

Goals must be measurable. What metrics will you use to determine whether you are achieving the goal? This makes the goal more tangible and provides an opportunity to measure progress. If it is a project that will take several months to complete, then set some milestones by considering specific tasks.

A - Achievable

The goals must be attractive or desirable. The purpose is to motivate rather than discourage. Think about how you can achieve the goal and whether you have the necessary tools/skills. If you do not currently have these tools/skills, consider what it takes to achieve them. If a goal is too far away, divide it into intermediate goals.

R - Reasonable

The goal set must be possible and feasible. Concentrate on something that is compatible with the overall corporate goals. A B2B company that does not want to expand into the consumer market does not need a consumer product (B2C), the target is not realistic.

T - Time Bound

It must be possible to define the goal with a fixed date. It is essential to specify a target date for the services to be performed. Ask specific questions about the target duration and what can be achieved within this period. If the target takes three months, it makes sense to define what is to be achieved halfway. The provision of timelines also creates a sense of urgency.

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The perfect documentation of your SMART goals is, of course, done in an app that can formally record all these facts. Of course, we use Merlin Project for this. Give it a try!

The Limits of SMART

SMART targets are generally a minimum description of targets. They need further refinement depending on the context. For example, realistic targets must also be in the price budget and they must be unique. In addition, further requirements should be added to the objectives, e.g. non-functional requirements in information technology.

The Easiest Way to Write SMART goals

When it comes to writing SMART goals, don't be afraid to ask yourself and other team members many questions. The answers will help you fine-tune your strategy and make sure the goals are actually achievable. Although you should be as realistic as possible, it is important to write SMART goals with a positive attitude. This doesn't have to be a daunting experience, but even quite revealing. After all, the goal is something you want to achieve.

Posted by Stefanie Blome on September 3rd, 2019 under Project Management
Tags: smart-goals s.m.a.r.t

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