SMART Goals for Project Management

11 Apr

Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timed, know as SMART Goals, are utilized by project managers as a way to measure project phases and the outcomes of the project, as many projects fail due to a lack of focus on the right things.

As a project manager, each project goes through a general leadership process of:

  1. Defining goals for each task
  2. Delegate each task to a task owner
  3. Control work on the task
  4. Coach the task owner
  5. Evaluate the results

Of course, project managers are unable to complete each task necessary on a project ourselves, so we have many team members help us to complete all of the work necessary to complete the project.  Therefore, it is important that each task listed in our work breakdown structure (WBS) has a SMART goals assigned to each, so it is communicated in a clear fashion to project team members so the goals of the project are meet; thus why SMART goals are so important to projects.  Below are some helpful times to devise your goals in the most effective, smart way!

Consider Your Intentions First: Understand your intentions for wanting to accomplish each goal in the first place.

  • What do you want to achieve as an end product and why?
  • What will this project do for the organization and yourself?
  • If you don’t accomplish your goal or do so poorly, how will it the results affect you? Career, life plans, self esteem, and job satisfaction-wise?

Make Specific Goals: It is important to make clear goals as you don’t’ want to invite confusion or possible excuse making. For example: Your end goal is to lose 15 lbs in 2 months, so your goal is to a gym and workout X times a week.

  • Would someone else be able to execute this goal if they read it?
  • Does my goal answer the 5 W’s: Who, What, When, Where, and Why?

Make Measurable Goals: Humans are far more likely to accomplish their goals if they know what to measure their goal and delivers results.  In our gym example, this could be measured by stepping onto the scale.

  • How will I know when this goal has been accomplished?
  • How frequently will your goal be evaluated?

Make Attainable Goals: Keep in mind how likely you can accomplish them in the timeframe you have allocated. In our gym example, if you eat right and go to the gym frequently, can your body honestly lose 15lbs in 2 months if you have a slow metabolism?

  • Can this goal be accomplished in the timeframe allocated?  If not, consider breaking down the goal into smaller pieces, if it is not.
  • Does your goal have an objective where you are both willing and able to achieve?

Make Relevant Goals: If you do not make relevant goals, they tend to be put on the backburner list, as you have too many other things to focus on and complete. In our gym example, maybe you want to reduce your having a heart attack and have the chance to be around for your children and lose weight to fit in an outfit for an upcoming event.

  • Does this goal align with the bigger picture for your organization?

Make Timed Goals: The majority of goals fail to be fulfilled because a timeframe is not specified. In our gym example, our goal is to lose 15lbs in 2 Months so we meet our goal in time for our high school reunion.

  • When do I want this goal to be accomplished?  This year or month or week?
  • Is your goal tangible, where you can experience one of your senses: taste touch, smell, sight or hearing?

Image Credit


11 responses to “SMART Goals for Project Management

  1. Mike Coughlin

    April 11, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Good Article as always Lisa. Keep them coming. 🙂

    • Lisa Drake

      April 12, 2011 at 11:04 am

      Thanks Mike! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂

  2. Michelle Fox

    April 11, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    Great Article Lisa.

    • Lisa Drake

      April 12, 2011 at 11:05 am

      Thank you Michelle for reading and commenting on my post. 🙂

  3. cole voors

    April 12, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Great article Lisa, SMART goals make a lot of sense!

    • Lisa Drake

      April 13, 2011 at 6:26 pm

      Thanks Cole for reading my post and commenting! Glad you enjoyed it. 🙂


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