Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar icon
Adobe PDF icon

10 Steps to Setting SMART Objectives

~ By George Ambler

Measuring tape showing number 10

Setting effective objectives to guide your team and organisation is very important for a leader to get right. Badly formulated objectives will steer an organisation in the wrong direction. I found this ten step approach to setting SMART objectives from the National Primary and Care Trust:

  1. Sort out the difference between objectives and aims, goals and/or targets before you start. Aims and goals relate to your aspirations, objectives are your battle-plan. Set as many objectives as you need for success.
  2. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.
  3. Don't try to use that order M-A/R-S-T is often the best way to write objectives.
  4. Measurable is the most important consideration. You will know that you've achieved your objective, because here is the evidence. I will know too! Make sure you state how you will record your success.
  5. Achievable is linked to measurable. Usually, there's no point in starting a job you know you can't finish, or one where you can't tell if or when you've finished it. How can I decide if it's achievable?
    • You know it is measurable.
    • Others have done it successfully (before you, or somewhere else.)
    • It's theoretically possible (i.e. clearly not 'not achievable'.)
    • You have the necessary resources, or at least a realistic chance of getting them.
    • You've assessed the limitations.
  6. If it's achievable, it may not be realistic. If it isn't realistic, it's not achievable. You need to know:
    • Who's going to do it?
    • Do they have (or can they get) the skills to do a good job?
    • Where's the money coming from?
    • Who carries the can?
    Realistic is about human resources, time, money, opportunity.
  7. The main reason it's achievable, but not realistic is that it's not a high priority. Often something else needs to be done first, before you'll succeed. If so, set up two (or more) objectives in priority order.
  8. The devil is in the specific detail. You will know your objective is specific enough if:
    • Everyone who's involved knows that it includes them specifically.
    • Everyone involved can understand it.
    • Your objective is free from jargon.
    • You've defined all your terms.
    • You've used only appropriate language.
  9. Timely means setting deadlines. You must include one, otherwise your objective isn't measurable. But your deadlines must be realistic, or the task isn't achievable. T must be M, and R, and S without these your objective can't be top-priority.
  10. It is worth this effort! You'll know you've done your job well, and so will others.

George Ambler was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has spend many hours reading and applying leadership practices in his life that has created significant personal growth and development.


Comments

Be the first to comment on this article.

Add a comment



(never displayed)



 
2000
Enter the fifth word of this sentence.
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

Reducing Your Cost of Quality

100% quality stamp

The cost of quality is a significant cost on any project so prudent managers look for ways to keep those costs in check.

Root Cause Analysis

Word cloud for Root Cause Analysis

The Root Cause Analysis method, when used properly, gives the project manager the ability to diagnose a problem that negatively impacted the project and remove it when it is first noticed.

SWOT Analysis in Project Management

Colourful SWOT analysis diagram in shape of leaves

SWOT Analysis is one of a number of different techniques used by professional project managers to help with decision-making.

Using Feedback as a Tool

Feedback blue round grungy vintage rubber stamp

Using feedback as a tool can help to motivate people, help with a persons development, uncover risks and issues and solve problems.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.


Latest Comments

Helen Simpson commented on…
NASA Project Management Challenge 2008
- Mon 11 September 2:20pm

Klinkehoffen commented on…
SMART Goals
- Sat 9 September 9:13am

Stephanie commented on…
Better Coaching Using the GROW Model
- Fri 18 August 11:33pm

Latest tweets

General Project Management • Support Required with research on project management methodology… https://t.co/X0JifqIS82 #projectsmart #pmot about 4 days ago

General Project Management • Re: How to Avoid Spreading Confidential Information About Projects? https://t.co/TB8fm9grFI #projectsmart #pmot about 7 days ago

General Project Management • Re: PMP training provider in the UK https://t.co/aYELvVuZat #projectsmart #pmot about 11 days ago