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SMART Goals

By Duncan Haughey, PMP
Blackboard with the SMART Goal definition written on it

Once you have planned your project, turn your attention to developing several goals that will enable you to be successful. Goals should be SMART - specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and time-based.

A goal might be to hold a weekly project meeting with the key members of your team or to organise and run a continuous test programme throughout the project.

The acronym SMART has a number of slightly different variations, which can be used to provide a more comprehensive definition for goal setting:

S - specific, significant, stretching

M - measurable, meaningful, motivational

A - agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented

R - realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented

T - time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable

This provides a broader definition that will help you to be successful in both your business and personal life.

When you next run a project take a moment to consider whether your goals are SMART goals.

To quote renowned American philanthropist Elbert Hubbard:

"Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage, but simply because they have never organised their energies around a goal."

SMART Goals

Specific

  • Well defined.
  • Clear to anyone that has a basic knowledge of the project.

Measurable

  • Know if the goal is obtainable and how far away completion is.
  • Know when it has been achieved.

Agreed Upon

  • Agreement with all the stakeholders what the goals should be.

Realistic

  • Within the availability of resources, knowledge and time.

Time-Based

  • Enough time to achieve the goal.
  • Not too much time, which can affect project performance.

Word Icon Download our free SMARTER Goals template

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Article Categories

8 Strategies for Achieving SMART Goals
Setting goals is easy but achieving them isn't. That's why setting SMART goals - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely - is the first step in making your goal a reality.

How to Write a SMART Goal (Video)
The acronym SMART tells us to write achievable and effective goals, but how do you write a SMART goal? This short video tutorial looks at the dos and don'ts of writing SMART goals.

Use SMART Objectives to Focus Goals, Plans and Performance
What's so smart about SMART? Why has this acronym become part of the vocabulary of project planning and performance management?

Setting SMARTER Goals in 7 Easy Steps
The mnemonics SMART and SMARTER are useful when setting project goals and objectives. Here are 7 steps to help you set smarter goals for your projects.

Information Icon Common Cost Management Mistakes:

  1. Not understanding what is involved to complete an item of work.
  2. Starting with an amount of money and making the project cost fit it.
  3. Assigning people at more than 80% utilisation.
  4. Failing to build in contingency.
  5. Providing estimates under pressure in project meetings.

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