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What are SMART goals? Best practices to define your business ones

What are SMART goals? Best practices to define your business ones

"If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else." - Lawrence J. Peter

It seems almost obvious to link a project to its purposes. The fact is that very often we do not think enough about the reasons for initiating a project. Or, even worse, we take them for granted, thus not thinking about their real essence.

This problem mostly affects recurring projects, while for innovative ones the need to develop a business case leads to more thoughtfulness.

Another major problem in project planning is that project goal are often defined qualitatively and are therefore scarcely "workable" by a project manager.

This suggests that project goals should be traceable to quantitative factors like a percentage of revenue increase, savings in resources, a defined number of products made in a defined time frame, achieving a certain ROI, and so on.

For each of these quantitative goals to develop the basis for setting up planning, you should have the attributes summarized by the acronym SMART.

What are SMART objectives?

The SMART criteria technique was developed by Peter Drucker in 1954 as an integral part of the MBO (Management by Objectives) business management philosophy. It is a procedure for setting goals, which are put first over the required activities in the project. Efficient management of business goals is only possible if one knows their validity. To determine whether objectives are valid, five criteria have been defined, corresponding to the terms that make up the S.M.A.R.T. acronym:

  • S = Specific
  • M = Measurable
  • A = Achievable
  • R = Realistic
  • T = Time-Based

To plan a SMART work process with this methodology, you need to ask five questions related to the project objectives. If those goals don’t meet even one of the requirements, you will need to adjust or scale them down.

Specific

Is my goal Specific?

We often make the first mistake of not thinking deeply about what we wish to achieve and leaning toward an inadequately specific formulation of our project goals.

A goal must be defined and tangible, and must clearly express what, how, and why you want to achieve it;

Measurable

Is my goal Measurable?

To confirm the achievement of the goal or to motivate the team in the long term, the goal must be measurable.

It must be expressed numerically, like, for example, the increase of production by X%,  the decrease of expenses by Y% and so on;

Achievable

Is it an Achievable goal?

In order not to give up on the goal, you must recognize and accept it. In other words: the goal must be attractive in your eyes. A project must be realistic and commensurate with your resources, capabilities and efforts;

Relevant

Are you sure it is Relevant?

Sometimes, in the grip of ambition, we have the feeling that we can accomplish anything. But again, be honest: is your team able to achieve these goals and effectively stick to them?

Before committing, time, resources, and money consider whether it is really worth it by carefully analyzing the cost & benefit ratio of the project and activities you are going to undertake;

Time-based

Can it be Timed?

Do not leave the deadline of your goal to chance!

Every goal must be tied to a deadline, and involves a whole series of follow-up steps, implying precise relationships between the various activities necessary for its accomplishment. Not surprisingly, some prefer to replace time-based with time-boxed, applying to this the time management technique known as Timeboxing.

SMART goals in Project Management

Therefore, the SMART method helps your project to objectively analyze the business idea and understand whether and how clear, defined, measurable, feasible, and verifiable the goals you intend to achieve are on a concrete time basis. Think about the SMART method the next time you formulate goals for your project. This will make it easier for you not to lose sight of them.

In Project Management - especially for digital projects that must be delivered by distributed team - after understanding the importance of SMART goals, it’s also important to rely on an execution platform to be shared. 

What we are talking about?

We refer to a place, a digital place, where you and your team will be able to name, list, track, and monitor the progress of each project task, ensuring that your goal is achieved and how it is proceeding.

A tool like Anywhere, online project management service, that might be the best solution for you, as it allows you to track your progress and gain control of your goals in real-time, collaboratively, and easily.

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