Using SMART tools in Your Business

The lack of defining SMART business objectives can lead to failure in providing the clarity that is essential to good business.


S: Specific
M: Measurable
A: Agreed, Attainable & Achievable
R: Realistic & Resourced
T: Time-Bound

SMART objectives will help you prioritise work, monitor progress and celebrate people’s achievements. Keeping things SMART helps business owner focus on what’s important and what needs to be done. It makes achieving objectives real and put the possibility within everyone’s grasp. And let’s face it – we all love that feeling of achievement. After your organisation’s creative vision, your objectives are the next key part of developing your written plan.

 #1 Identify your Priorities

Look at the vision you’ve set for your organisation and consider which of these key areas are priorities:

  • Finance – increased sales, cuts in spending, better profit margins
  • Product or service – improving existing products or services to match your customers’ requirements, developing new products or services
  • Quality – introducing new quality processes or achieving accreditation to a quality standard
  • Customers – attracting new customers or improving customer satisfaction
  • Personnel and development – recruiting new specialists or improving the skills of existing employees
  • Operations – introducing new information technology or upgrading premises

You may find you have a long list, so prioritise.

#2 Make Sure your Objectives are SMART

The next step is to take your priorities and make a SMART objective from each. Make each priority into a concise statement and run it through the SMART test. For each objective ask yourself whether it is:

  • Specific. Will everyone be able to understand it? A vague objective leads to poor results
  • Measurable. Clear targets allow you to measure whether you are making the progress you expect or have anticipated
  • Agreed, Attainable & Achievable. Objectives must be agreed so your people can own them. They should be attainable and achievable by the person you have asked to meet the objective
  • Realistic & Resourced. Given your resources and the current climate, is your objective realistic? Do you have the resources (the time, money and equipment) to make it happen?
  • Time-Bound. You must set a clear timeframe for objectives so the people working on the objective are clear when it has to be achieved

An objective will only be useful if it passes the SMART test. If it doesn’t pass, change it until it does.

#3 Make Sure your Objectives are a Good Fit and are Assigned to the Right People

After you’ve produced your objectives, give them the common-sense check and make sure they fit together to form a unified strategy. Once you’ve decided on your SMART objectives, put them in a format that makes it easy to review, update and use to brief.  You might then want to create an objectives flowchart, which shows how you can separate out the organisation’s objectives into team, departmental or individual objectives, and – as the next step in your strategic planning – link your objectives to actions.

 Share Your Thoughts

In what areas of your business you utilize SMART tools? What difficulties you face in setting and implementing SMART tools? Share your thoughts, questions, and successes with John

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