What are SMART goals? How are they used to ensure the best outcomes of business projects? Clearly, every company regardless of the size must establish attainable goals to continue developing and improving the operations. The project planning process therefore needs an effective way to determine stages, objectives, and results and SMART goals are the best at helping businesses to accomplish that.
What is SMART?
Internet sources give different definitions of this term but the most widely used one states that SMART is an acronym which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. It is one of the most effective methods to measure project stages and outcomes used in business today and can be used by individuals and teams.
According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one could ask the following questions regarding the project to develop SMART goals that ensure successful outcomes.
- S: what is specific about the goal/objective?
- M: can the goal be measured?
- A: can the goal be achieved?
- R: can the goal be considered as relevant to performance expectations?
- T: What time is needed to complete the task? When can it be completed?
Let’s review an example to make sure you know how to develop goals that meet the criteria above. For example, let’s assume that your project has the following goal:
Increase the conversions on the company’s landing page.
What do you think? Does this goal meet the SMART criteria? Obviously, it doesn’t because it lacks many critical elements, so can serve as a draft rather than the final version. For example, how does one “increase the conversions”? How can the person assigned to this task be sure that he or she is working on the right strategy? Also, how can they know when the goal of increasing the conversions is reached?
Let’s revise that goal using the SMART approach.
Each week, the landing page of the company should be updated with new promotional offers and relevant materials; they should be published on Monday. Every Friday, an analysis should be completed to determine the lead generation progress using online tools.
See the difference between these two goals? The second is clearly more comprehensive and meets the SMART criteria. For example, it is specific because it defines the dates, tools, and materials, so the assigned persons won’t have any questions regarding these areas. Next, it is measurable because it has the schedule for the updates.
Let’s take an example project and follow SMART approach to setting goals and objectives so you would be familiar with the brainstorming process. Let’s imagine you are running a sports clothing company and you need to design shoes for one specific target audience: customers who will use them to play basketball. At this point, you should remember that the project scope needs to be defined before you engage in creating SMART goals.
S (Specific): we have a task to design new shoes for street basketball players. Apparently, many companies have done the same job before us, so we need to be unique in our approach to ensure product differentiation and something to highlight in our advertising materials. To do that, we have to ask ourselves the following questions: what can be done to improve the models developed by other companies? Do basketball players prefer their shoes to be light or heavy? Can we consider the use of recycled materials for manufacturing? These and other questions will define the specific features of the shoes that need to be developed.
M (Measure): to make sure we completed this stage, the measurement of the design’s success needs to be developed. It will allow to evaluate the final model and test it both by you and your customers. Companies today use different tools to measure the goals of projects, with project tracking tools being the most popular ones. For example, admission-service company that employ many writers from different countries often use Zoho Projects because it allows free unlimited users option and provides great communication opportunities.
A (Attainability): every stakeholder in the project must be ensured that it is achievable by using the existing resources of the company. If some additional resources are needed, you can develop a plan that outlines the amount of loan and the time when the product will provide returns above the initial investment. At this point, you should also access the risks associated with the production of the prototype pair.
R (Realistic): when we have the risks under control and the resources ready to begin the production, it is necessary to ensure that all goals set in the project are realistic and doable. Will the customers who play basketball like these shoes? Did the management set reasonable goals that can actually be achieved?
T (Time): the SMART approach considers time-based goals as critical for the project success, so the management has to ask the right questions and give the right answers before engagement. If the company needs to have the new shoes in the sports shops by the summer shopping season, will it be able to meet this deadline? Also, what are the possible challenges that it can encounter along the way?
How to ensure that everything is considered?
Experienced entrepreneurs say that mind mapping software are one of the best ways to implement SMART goals because they allow to include many factors. Indeed, these tools are awesome because they create mind maps with detailed notes, colored branches, and nodes, images, messages, answers. Moreover, they allow collaboration with team members and even real-time chat. As the result, every aspect of the project gets discussed and planned.
A goal without proper planning is nothing more than a wish. This attitude is clearly unacceptable in business because the one can win only if provides necessary planning. SMART goals are a way to ensure that project outcomes are achieved in an organized and careful way, which gives a great competitive advantage. Using them will place you ahead of others and enhance your business, so don’t hesitate to try this amazing method.