SMART Goals for Project Managers: Definition and Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 26, 2021

Project managers direct the design, planning and execution of a project. Professionals across many industries practice project management skills when they need to complete tasks like developing a product, improving a system or establishing a new business strategy. If you're a project manager, consider creating SMART goals to help you succeed at your job. In this article, we explain what SMART goals are, why they're important for project managers, steps on how to choose them and some examples of SMART goals for those in a project management role.

What are SMART goals?

SMART goals are clear, detailed and achievable strategies for success. By following the SMART process, you can make a goal plan that is more thorough, adaptable and efficient than you could setting other types of goals. Use this framework to outline the steps to accomplish your aim, which may involve resources, team members, and deadlines. Here is what the SMART acronym stands for:

S is for specific

Ensure your goal outlines your desired outcome in a clear and specific way. Since you may collaborate with others, make your goal simple and easy to understand for everyone. Use precise and descriptive language and include information like names and locations if applicable.

M is for measurable

Use numbers and metrics when you make your goal so that you can measure your progress toward it. Quantify amounts like how many tasks to complete, how long it takes to complete one task and how many hours your team works in total.

A is for attainable

Consider factors such as time, resources, labor force, costs and potential issues to determine whether your goal is doable. Look at the results of things like your average productivity level in previous months in your and use them as benchmarks for your new goal.

Consider budgeting extra time for your project because sometimes tasks take longer than you think and unexpected events arise. Understand that no process is perfect, but making your goal attainable ensures that you can make adjustments when necessary and complete a high-quality project on time.

R is for relevant

Check your previously created goals regularly to confirm they are still necessary for completing your project. Try to create goals that lead to results with important, positive effects on your business. Pursue goals that can add value to the project, even if they may require a lot of time, resources or other investments.

T is for time-based

Make a timeline for your goal, set deadlines for tasks and a deadline for the entire project. Complete regular weekly or monthly check-ins to make sure the project is on schedule. Use calendars and share them across a team through an online cloud-based program so everyone can know upcoming important dates.

Related: SMART Goals: Definition and Examples

Why are SMART goals for project managers important?

There are typically many people depending on project managers to complete projects that meet needs and deadlines, including supervisors, coworkers and clients. The SMART process provides a simple and intuitive structure for goal making and can help project managers approach their objectives with confidence, manage project teams effectively and expertly reach their goals.

How to choose SMART goals as a project manager

Setting SMART goals may require planning from the start, to ensure they're most effective for each team and project. The following steps show you how to create and reach SMART goals as a project manager:

1. Identify an area of improvement

Review items like your company's production goals, reach or potential areas of improvement to identify where a SMART goal may be beneficial. Consider giving your employees anonymous surveys to ask them if there is anything they would like to change about how the company functions. You can also study customer reviews of your company and products to see customer reactions and suggestions for improvement.

Related: What Is a Problem Statement: Definition and Example

2. Invent a solution

After discovering possible gaps or needs in your company, think of improvements that you can make to address challenges and increase efficiency and profits. You could update an old system to make it more user-friendly, hire more employees to save time, implement a new marketing strategy to expand your customer base or start getting materials that are safer for the environment.

3. Make a SMART goal

Take your solution idea and make it into a SMART goal. Consider drafting your goal on paper and going through each step, making sure your goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. You can call a group meeting to complete the SMART goal process with others to make use of diverse ideas and perspectives.

4. Think about the project scope

Keep the values of your company in mind when you're making a SMART goal. Ensure that achieving this goal brings actual, positive and necessary change to your organization. Visualize how the accomplished goal affects your company and if it matches the voice and mission of your brand.

5. Build a powerful team

Building a strong team could be an asset to attaining a SMART goal. Whether your team is five people or 100, working with others can help you achieve your goals and complete your projects faster. Include your team in the making of your SMART goals so you can collaborate with and understand each other's viewpoints as the project progresses. Some examples of building a powerful and effective team may include:

  • Delegating and assigning tasks based on the talents and strengths of your team members

  • Developing a group calendar and setting up email reminders for everyone on the team

  • Providing your team members with proper training and certifications

  • Planning team-building programs and other social activities to increase morale, enthusiasm and team-bonding

Related: Working Well on a Team: Types of Teams and Tips for Finding Team Success

6. Create a clear plan

Craft an obvious timeline and plan for how you to progress through and complete the project. Use maps, charts and graphics in both digital and print form to represent your plan visually to all team members involved. Consider keeping an oversized storyboard of your project in an area where all team members can see it to track your progress and keep everyone motivated.

7. Include rewards

Keep morale and motivation high for yourself and your team by rewarding yourselves for small accomplishments like completions of minor tasks. These rewards may include buying food or drinks, celebrating in a social activity or even giving gift cards. Positive reinforcement can inspire employees to be more productive.

Related: Rewarding Employees for Performance

Examples of SMART goals for project managers

Project managers can set goals that help them complete their projects or set personal goals to advance their career. Here are some examples:

  • Example 1: Produce 12 instructional videos in the next three months to post on the company's social media page and increase social media engagement by 20%.

  • Example 2: Start implementing a weekly employee survey with 10 questions by the end of the month to gauge employee satisfaction with management and improve the employee training program.

  • Example 3: Facilitate advertising contracts for three new websites in the next two months to increase website traffic by 30% and promote brand awareness.

  • Example 4: Research and find at least 5 graphic artists by the end of the month who can create 3 high-quality logo mockups to build the brand.

  • Example 5: By the end of the week, organize a team meeting for every Friday at 2:00pm to review the status of projects and complete the projects on time.

  • Example 6: Create 15 standard operating procedures in the next three weeks to aid in operational consistency, improve training methods and prepare for auditing.

  • Example 7: Develop a business management software by the end of the year that can help clients organize information, pursue leads and conduct e-commerce.

  • Example 8: Enable all five managers within a company to attend a three-week long leadership training program in January to expand their expertise and increase productivity.

  • Example 9: Hire 10 new employees in two months to make content turnover three times faster and improve client satisfaction.

  • Example 10: Starting in six weeks, perform five quality checks for products before sending them to clients to improve client satisfaction by 30%.

  • Example 11: Establish a new messaging and shared calendar system by the end of the month to improve communication, facilitate collaboration and increase business transparency.

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