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An Introductory Guide to SMART in Project Management

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19th Feb, 2024
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    An Introductory Guide to SMART in Project Management

    Have you ever received an appreciation for doing SMART work? The SMART Project Management training incorporates SMART criteria into project management, making it credible. Maximum projects in the world desire a SMART framework. SMART in project management refers to the combination of five concepts in a system to achieve Specific goals by Measuring the process which is Attainable and Relevant to a similar project’s objectives within a prescribed Time-bound duration.  

    Furthermore, let's understand the five elements of SMART goals for project management in detail, along with examples for project managers and real-life examples, the concept of SMART in project management, and the origin of SMART ideology.  

    What are SMART Goals?

    The word SMART acronym in project management is formed with the first letters of the Five Elements as “Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Related”. The SMART goals in project management relatively guide most of the project managers to fulfill their ambitions, which also helps set goals for personal outcomes. We will see those real-life examples further. The alternative acronym words commonly used for SMART are (Strategic, Motivating, Assignable, Realistic, Time-Related, or Timely). 

    Each element of SMART objectives in project management states as follows- 

    • Specific - A Strategy to Set a Specific goal. 
    • Measurable - Measuring the process or procedure of attaining a goal at each phase. 
    • Attainable or Achievable - Concept of deciding whether a goal is achievable or not.  
    • Relative - Relevant to the other same business goals. 
    • Time-bound - To set a specific period to achieve the target goal. 

    Now, we go wide into each concept to know their objectives and role in completing the SMART goal for project management. 

    1. Specific 

    The first component of SMART states that any project motive must be specific. This specific data about the goal helps all remaining elements to design their roles. You cannot set your goal with an unclear vision. Consider an example of a non-specific goal "I will lose weight." Here there is no specific data on the goal. An example of a specific goal is "I will lose 10 lbs. of weight". Comparing the present instance to the previous one, the difference is 10 lbs., which is a specific strategy for a clear goal. 

    Exemplifying specific goals makes the job easy to convey to team members in crafting further steps for achieving the target. Let us understand more with a table of discrepancies between specific and non-specific goals. 

    Non-Specific GoalSpecific Goal
    To construct a team for project managementTo construct a team of 6 members for project management
    Today I am going to play a gameToday I am going to play Cricket
    I will have breakfastI will have Corn-flakes and sandwiches for breakfast
    I will go on vacationI will go on vacation to the Maldives

    2. Measurable

    After forming your specific goal, it's time to study its progress at every stage by assessing it using adequate tools and documenting it for betterment. As a project leader, one needs this characteristic of the goal to know the rate of speed at which the goal can be fulfilled. 

    Let's take the example of obtaining project management training. Here we select a specific goal to complete the training of five courses in ten months as it is a measurable goal. If we set out to complete each course in two months, then the goal can be accomplished within the stipulated time. 

    From the above illustration, it is understood that measurable goals influence an important role in the SMART framework to track its advancement. One who is managing any project can have a clear picture of project progress and can attain the milestone. 

    3. Attainable

    The goal which we have set is specific, but what if it is not practical or conceivable in the real world? 

    This third component of SMART is to comprehend whether the destiny of your project goal is possible or not with available reserves. A study of various past accomplishments, project summaries and available resources like team assistance, abilities and economical backup might help in deciding achievable goals. In most projects, chosen resources to accomplish the project decides the achievability.  

    One cannot determine whether the selected goal is achievable or not hypothetically. It prefers a focused study of its probability and complications in the path. Few goals might feel difficult to achieve but still possible with relative changes in the assignment of responsibility, enhancing time bound period, tracking availability of required resources and recruiting new team members, etc. 

    Let’s understand the idea furthermore with a simple example of doubling the production of the steel industry. Suppose a steel industry with a crew of 50 members produces 600MT steel monthly with 8 working hours daily. Their goal is to double the output next month with the same manpower and without modifying their working hours. Whether this goal is realistic or achievable? No, one cannot achieve this goal. To make it realistic to attain the desired goal, we need to make several changes, such as recruiting another 30 members to the team and adding 2 more working hours to all 80 members will double the output. 

    4. Relevant 

    A group of projects works in a single industry for a single business goal, where all individual project goals should somewhat match one another in the progress of the major goal of the business. If it is not relatively constructed, it might end up harming the whole system. If a project leader attains PMP course for the advancement of his skills which relatively helps to achieve the goals of projects undoubtedly also to the main business.  

    Let's consider an example of an automobile magazine. Its goal is to publish articles related to two-wheelers, cars and their modern technologies. Here every article should pertain to a solitary concept of publishing Automobiles. If any articles are published about food recipes, it does not match their main business concept and degrades their business by curtailing readers from the automobile sector. 

    5. Time-bound

    The most precious thing in the world nowadays is TIME; once passed cannot be taken back. Can we visualize any project to be finished without a deadline? And you cannot imagine any sport without a time-bound. When you have formulated when to end your project, it allows all other divisions to set their rate of speed and be self-motivated to achieve it within the deadline.  

    The given deadline assists in measuring the process of achieving a goal at each stage to eventually reach its deadline. If there is no time bound considered in the fulfillment of any project, one cannot decide when to begin and when to end, which results in delinquency, delay and bad quality of the project. 

    What is SMART in Project Management?

    All acronym words of SMART are being adopted in many day-to-day activities and are already being adopted by many project leaders and others for their personal growth too. SMART in project management guides to set goals and better objectives for quality outcomes. 

    When a new project is allocated, as a project leader one runs through many obstacles in work assignments, team supervision, unavailability of resources, and tight deadlines etc., So when you acquire the SMART criteria in project management it distributes the project into tiny parts and visualizes each department individually for easy accomplishment. So now we can conclude which part has to be targeted better and concerned tasks can be allotted to team skills-wise. 

    Further Project managers who do follow SMART criteria in project management for their professional and personal life can see major changes in working style, and time management which results in the stable development of their skills and professional growth. We will understand the concept with smart goals project management examples in the coming topics. 

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    Where Did the Idea of SMART Goals Come From?

    The architect behind the ideology of SMART goals project management is George T. Doran. It was first published by Doran in November 1981 in the magazine of “Management Review”  with an article named “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives”. 

    In George T. Doran’s article S.M.A.R.T referred to (Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic and Time related). 

    Examples of SMART Goals for Project Managers

    SMART goal examples for project managers aid in striking out many drawbacks in the process of accomplishing any task, right from the beginning of agreeing on a client's requirements by forming the specific goal to till the goal is achieved within the deadline. So, deeming all five theories of S.M.A.R.T gives criteria to achieve with comfort for project managers. Let us see some SMART goals for project managers examples. 

    Example:1   

    A project manager wants his team to be competent in project management skills, particularly in Agile principles and techniques. So he enrolled them on the Agile Certified Practitioner Course (ACP), which resulted in continuous improvement of project and team performance. 

    • Specific - The Project manager sets his goal to make his team expert with the Agile certified practitioner course, which is specific. 
    • Measurable- Progress of the course measured by topics covered in each contact hour of the ACP certification training. 
    • Attainable - The course can be achievable by 21 hours of ACP training with KnowledgeHut's Certification courses for Project Management.
    • Relevant - The training attained by the project team members helps in the continuous improvement of the mission, and over the period it also helps the concerned enterprise or business in reaching the purpose.  
    • Time-bound - Finishing the course is time-related and the goal was set with a deadline 

    Example:2 

    A project team leader wants his project to be finished in 30 days which has taken 50 days previously as their annual turnover of the industry to be achieved in 30 days only. To accomplish this goal, he introduced new Automation technology, then increased 2 more working hours on the team, and additionally recruited new skilled employees.  

    • Specific: There is a specific strategy to complete the project 20 days earlier than the previous time-bound. 
    • Measurable: The progress can be measured every day and can be recorded, this data helps to make changes in working hours or recruit extra employees to attain the project within the deadline. 
    • Attainable: As the team leader made several changes by acquainting automation technoly, extra duty hours and new recruitments this goal can be achievable. 
    • Relevant: This project is working relevantly by finishing within the financial year to achieve its company’s main goal of reaching annual turnover. 
    • Time-bound: It has a deadline of 30 days. 

    Example : 3 

    Let's see examples of SMART goals for construction project managers who set an objective to build an apartment of 12 floors within 6 months, which is feasible with 20 workers by utilizing prefabricated walls for fast construction. 

    • Specific: The construction project manager has a clear goal from his client to construct an apartment. 
    • Measurable: The speed of the project can be measured by the time seized for each floor that determines the accomplishment of work within the deadline. 
    • Attainable: The modifications made by the manager are to use prefabricated walls, which are only to be positioned with less effort, which makes the project achievable. 
    • Relevant: The project is relevant to their main construction business. 
    • Time-bound: The project has a specific period to be completed in 6 months. 

    The above project manager smart goals examples show that project teams improve continuously in skills development, communication, and timely submission of the projects to clients.  

    Real-Life Examples of SMART Project Management

    As previously stated, incorporating SMART goals into the personal lives of project managers or anyone else helps to solve day-to-day challenges and shifts perspective, resulting in a better professional and personal life. Let's find out how we can adapt project management SMART goals examples to real-life activities with the following concepts. 

    Example: 1 

    A writer wants to write at least six articles on wildlife in the coming year. 

    • Specific: The goal is to write articles on wildlife. 
    • Measurable: To achieve a goal, one article is expected to take two months. So it is measurable. 
    • Attainable: The writer himself can decide its achievability based on his past writing and knowledge of wildlife. So if he has knowledge, then it is attainable. 
    • Relevant: It's relevant to his job, as he is a writer, which further helps increase his skills in writing. 
    • Time-bound: the goal has a deadline of 12 months. 

    Example: 2  

    Obtaining an Engineering degree with a specialization in Mechanical engineering to launch a successful career in the steel industry’s maintenance field. 

    • Specific: Mechanical engineering is a specific goal to be achieved. 
    • Measurable: the progress is measured each year with topics covered and subjects passed to get eligibility for coming years. 
    • Attainable: as this specialization engineering is being done by many students every year and coming out of college with a degree certificate. So it's an achievable goal with focused study. 
    • Relevant: It is relative to the career goals. If his main goal is to get a job in the maintenance field in the steel industry, then his goal of achieving a mechanical engineering degree is relevant to his main goal. 
    • Time-bound: To get a successful engineering degree, there is a 4-years' time-bound. 

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    Conclusion

    From the above SMART project management examples, we came to know that applying SMART goals for project management helps to deliver the project on time as per the client’s requirement, which forms goodwill among the superiors and with our customers. These SMART goals are super fit for professional growth too. We have studied smart goals examples for project managers above. 

    And the use of SMART goals fills the communication gaps between clients and your subordinates. It makes it easy to find the difficulties in each step, which can be further resolved by assigning the concerned expert. As a project manager, one can achieve his project goals from time to time with great quality. 

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. What is SMART and CLEAR in project management?

    Both SMART and CLEAR are used for crafting goals for project management, where SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound, and CLEAR stands for Collaborative, Limited, Emotional, Appreciable, and Refinable. 

    2. What are examples of SMART goals

    Examples of SMART goals: 

    1. Establishing a motive to lessen 5 kgs in 2 months by following the Keto diet for a healthy life. 
    2. Enhance communication abilities by following online courses with a half-year package. 
    3. Organize team conferences twice weekly to restore communication gaps in project management. 
    4. Travel plan to Bangkok with a package of 10 days and 9 nights to cover all the beaches. 

    3. What are good SMART goals for work?

    There are several good habits with SMART goals, and a few of them are as follows 

    1. Improved communication 
    2. Developing skills of personal or Team 
    3. Time management 
    4. Finding quick routes 
    5. Healthy discussions 

    4. How do I write my SMART goals?

    SMART goals have to be written in a series of 

    1. Write down your Specific goals.  
    2. Measuring its progress and filing its data. 
    3. Considering its achievability by arranging the required resources. 
    4. Setting the goal relevant to other main achievements.  
    5. Mention the time required for completion. 

    5. What are the three main characteristics of a SMART goal?

    1. A goal set looks specific and understandable by everyone on the team. 
    2. SMART goals are measurable periodically with a clear strategy for accomplishing the project. 
    3. It Saves time by deciding whether the project is attainable or not and shows targeted difficulties to be resolved to make it achievable. 
    Profile

    Satish T

    Author

    Satish T writes on project management and the many approaches used in projects across different sectors. He honed his fundamental writing talents in article production after discovering that the creation of content is essential when describing any product. Satish's areas of interest are fact-finding research, Search Engine Optimization, and skill development.

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