Understanding SMART Goals in Project Management

Created by
Alexa Cuartin

Have you ever had the feeling you are working hard, but not getting anything done? It’s a common phenomenon that has a direct impact on how productive you are through your day, and how effective you are while managing your projects. 


The key to turning this feeling around is setting SMART goals: a criteria that will help you gain focus and understand what you want to accomplish, clarify your ideas, prioritize your efforts, and use your resources and time accordingly. 


In this article, we’ll explore the essence of S.M.A.R.T goals, and why you should be using this criteria.

SMART goals: Definition

S.M.A.R.T is an acronym for 5 different elements, which are: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals. By understanding and setting these elements in motion, you’ll be creating an actionable plan designed to get results. Let’s explore a bit more:


  1. Specific: When setting a goal for yourself, your goal should be very clear and specific, or you will struggle when the time comes to focus your efforts. “W” questions are important when setting these goals: 


- What? Think about what you are trying to accomplish.

- Why? What is the reason for this goal, and why is this goal important.

- Who? Think about who will be involved.

- Where? If there is a relevant location, identify it here.

- Which? You will need to determine any possible requirements or obstacles that may become an issue along the way.


  1. Measurable: While working on setting your goals, it’s important to understand that they need to be measurable ones, so that you can track them. Set milestones or specific tasks to accomplish during your project, and track and assess your progress. 


  1. Achievable: In order for your goals to be achievable, they also need to be realistic ones. They should feel challenging but still remain possible. So, take a close look at any possible previously overlooked opportunities, and think about the resources you will need to bring your goal to completion. These resources might translate to developing new skills, so think about what you will need in order to acquire them and how long this will take you.


  1. Relevant: You need to be sure your goal matters to you, and it is also necessary that your goal aligns with other goals; whether they might be different and broader business goals or personal goals along the way. 


  1. Time-bound: This step is about working with the right time-set in mind. You need to have a clear deadline to truly focus on accomplishing your goal. Think about it as a project with no finish line; you wouldn’t know where and when to start. Setting clear deadlines is imperative to goal accomplishment. 



When managing projects, as soon as you find yourself drifting from one task to the other, or rushing around trying to get a million things done, and in reality accomplishing very little, you need to take a step back and remember how the SMART goals criteria can help you gain focus and can help you think about your project in an actionable manner. 


Now that you have learned the importance of SMART goals, you will be in need of an execution platform; somewhere where you’ll be able to name, list, track, and follow the progress of each task, ensuring your goal is met. 


A tool like Instagantt, an online Gantt chart project management platform, might become the best solution for you, as it allows you to follow your progress, and to gain control of your objectives in real-time, in a collaborative, smart, and simple way.

Instagantt: Online Gantt Chart Platform

Take a moment to discover how Instagantt can help you change and improve the way you manage your projects, and your effectiveness as a project manager.