The SMART format for goals is one of the most well-known goal setting techniques. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely and provides a format and process for setting goals of any size and type, including personal, professional or business-related. SMART project management takes the format for developing goals and applies it to the project management process. This is a great way for businesses to outline project objectives and plans in a meaningful way that employees and stakeholders can easily understand. Let’s explore this in more detail.
What is SMART Project Management?
The SMART format for goals dictates that the best way to achieve your goals is to design them based on the following criteria: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. Therefore, SMART project management uses the same criteria for designing and implementing successful projects.
When starting a project, it’s important to be as specific as possible. You want to make sure that the objectives and steps are easy to understand and follow. A simple way to do this is to provide information about the 5 W’s – who, what, where, why and when.
- Who needs to be involved to complete the project? Who are the main players and stakeholders?
- What exactly are you trying to accomplish?
- Where does this project take place?
- Why is the project important? Why does it matter to the company/employees/customers?
- When do you hope to complete this project? The “Timely” component of SMART project management further outlines timeframes, but it’s a good idea to identify a general timeframe as soon as possible.
Although it’s important to include a lot of information, the more concise you can be, the better.
How will you measure whether the project was successful? Without metrics in place, it’s impossible to track the success of the project. Metrics can include both tangible and intangible results such as money earned, time saved and impact on employee morale. If your project is set to take place over several weeks or months, you can also set milestones to help measure progress along the way.
There is no point in starting a project that is not achievable. It’s important to evaluate what steps and resources are required to complete the project. Do you have the right people onboard? Is there anything you need to prepare in advance? Consider factors such as setting a budget, allocating resources, training employees, researching options and more.
Make sure that the project is relevant to those involved and the business. Is it realistic? Does it align with future growth strategies and available resources?
They say that a goal without a timeline is just a dream. To make sure you accomplish your goals and complete your project, it’s important to set a deadline and restrict the project and activities to within a certain timeframe. Pick a target date and if necessary, also pick check-in points throughout the project.
Let’s look at an example of using SMART project management in real life.
Example: I want to replace QuickBooks with all-in-one inventory accounting software.
Our team of 30 employees relies on QuickBooks to manage our entire wholesale distribution business, but the system lacks advanced functionality and inventory management is a manual process using Excel spreadsheets. We want to start selling product online and need a system that can integrate with online channels. I want to find and implement a new solution before the holiday season next year.
Implementing all-in-one inventory accounting software at our business will require a lot of resources but has the potential to provide major future benefits. A system that integrates with eCommerce channels eliminates the need to hire additional staff to process the expected increase in orders. Right now, we waste a lot of time manually updating data in our accounting system and spreadsheets, fixing mistakes and trying to reconcile inventory information between Excel and our warehouse. In addition to other benefits, our goal with this project is to increase sales 20% through the implementation of eCommerce channels by the end of next year without the need to hire additional employees.
I have notified all employees of this project. I have also identified a project manager to keep the project on track, answer any questions employees may have and to help with change management across the organization. We have the right people in place to start selling online and our warehouse is large enough to handle more inventory.
Implementing new all-in-one inventory accounting software will free up employee time to focus on more meaningful tasks, eliminate the errors associated with manual data entry, and allow us to start selling through online channels. These objectives align with our business strategy to grow the business and reach new customers.
This project must be completed by the end of Q3 before the holiday season starts. This means that we will need to evaluate vendors, find a solution and make a decision by the middle of Q2 to keep the project on track with typical implementation timeframes. We have created a full breakdown of project milestones to meet this deadline.
Once you have identified all the criteria for SMART project management, you can consolidate the information into one project description.
SMART Project Description:
As part of our company growth strategy, we need to automate more processes, eliminate manual work, and start selling through eCommerce channels to reach more customers. Our existing accounting software cannot handle these requirements and is not able to scale with our company, so we have decided to upgrade to all-in-one inventory accounting software. Our goal with this project is to implement software by the middle of Q2 so that by the end of the year we see an increase in sales by 20% through eCommerce channels.
Ready to start your software upgrade SMART project? Learn more with our Software Buying Guide.