The SMART method describes how to set clear objectives for a goal, usually for project management or personal growth. It was first introduced in 1981 by George Doran, and the main advantage of using these types of goals is that it is easy to ascertain whether they have been achieved or not.
What does the SMART in SMART Goals stand for?
Each letter of the SMART acronym stands for a different goal criteria. The criteria is as follows –
One clear target should appear in the goal, and the improvement it aims to bring about should also be mentioned. The goal needs to be written in clear language, which will allow everyone to understand why it’s needed and what will change if and when it is achieved.
The improvement should be quantifiable, or at least a clear indicator of progress should be included. For example: “Improve by 25%”, “decrease by 20%” or “connect the site to the power grid”. Refrain from using language such as “improve a lot”, “Lower by a significant percentage”, etc.
The goal needs to be assigned to a person or team which have the required skills to achieve the goal, and have the necessary resources –
- Time: The workload is reasonable, and the team members are given a timeline which they are comfortable with
- Goods: All the physical resources are procured, or in the process of being procured (servers, computers, etc.)
- Budget: The Company allocated the required budget for procurement and hiring experts which will assist in achieving the goal.
The goal needs to be aligned with the overall corporate strategy of the company, in order for the employees to understand why it is required. Most companies have a mission statement or strategic goals which are clearly stated to all of the employees. Each goal needs to be aligned with at least one of the strategic goals.
The goal needs to have a specific due date, which needs to be tracked.
Once a goal is agreed upon, the owner must set the criteria for the five objectives specified above. The attached template has three different examples of such goals, with the SMART criteria. Since each goal is bound by a due date, this must be tracked by the owner of the goal. If there is a risk of exceeding the due-date, the owner needs to explain the implications regarding each criterion (if any).
The following suggestions will ensure that fulfilling the SMART goals will be done successfully –
- Each goal should have one owner, who will be responsible for it from A to Z
- Once the goal is approved, it is a good idea to set up a work-plan in order to track the progress of achieving the goal. This should be considered a project like any other goal oriented endeavour
- It is a good idea to use a uniform template for all the SMART goals, this will allow different team members to quickly and easily understand the criteria
- It is possible to add other criterions to each goal –
- Verifiable: It is possible to verify that the goal was achieved
- Traceable: It is possible to see who did what during the lifetime of achieving the goal