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SMART Goals in Project Management (Full Guide With Examples)

SMART Goals in Project Management (Full Guide With Examples)

The primary goal of any project is to always achieve the target or the business goals. To do that, the project manager or the product manager has to make plans, set up tasks, goals, and act upon them. But when it’s time to execute the plan and he/she realizes that there are certain holes in the original plan, it will obviously result in a setback. That is why they need to implement the SMART goals in project management.

The failure of a project can depend on a number of reasons. But the most common cause it the project goals weren’t clear enough. As a project manager, you may have the desired outcome in mind. However, the path to that journey is difficult and without a proper plan, it will be impossible to attain.

The solution is SMART goals.

What Does SMART Goals Stand For?

SMART is an acronym of “Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound“. These 5 elements help you set specific and attainable goals to make your project successful. Normal goals define what you aim to achieve. But, SMART goals include finer details in the equation such as resources, deadlines, and potential roadblocks along the way.

SMART goals will help you carefully plan your schedule, determine your project deliverables, and also make sure you have accounted for every resource you use.

Today we are going to dig deep into SMART goals and let you know how you can use them to your advantage.

Importance of SMART Goals in Project Management

Implementing smart goals in project management 1

The job of a project manager is tough, to begin with. And then when you have vague or undefined goals, it can really make your job a lot harder. You finish the project in a hurry to meet the deadline, and this is when clients are happy, they ask for additional features, changing the project feasibility.

You need to have clear expectations and proper collaborations in order to get your project off the ground and reach its goal.

As a project manager, you need to create long-term plans, organize them into proper goals, create smaller tasks, and achieve your goal. Implementing SMART goals in project management can turn an overloaded project into meaningful and orderly tasks.

Read: 12 Best Project Management Books of 2023

This way, the goals which looked unachievable at the start of the project will look achievable. SMART goals take more effort to create and follow, but they ensure a higher likelihood of succeeding. Like lots of things in life, the extra effort is worth it in the end.

So, now you the importance of SMART goals, let’s see how to set them in your project.

How to Set SMART Project Goals

it sounds like a lot, but setting SMART goals isn’t exactly rocket science. However, you need to have a full understanding of the project. Knowing the ins and outs of the project will help you set up realistic goals that will certainly push you to meet the project requirements.

Don’t set too many objectives while implementing SMART goals in project management. Because you want your SMART goals to be a reliable benchmark of your performance and an indicator of how close you are to your target, you don’t want to go too far by dividing your goal into more objectives than needed. This will only lead you to a state of constant overthinking, and ultimately, burnout.

Focus on only one goal at a time. Here’s how you can set up SMART goals,

Set Goals that are “Specific”

If you say at the start of your project that we will ” Increase the conversion rate of our site” and start planning, then you are done.

Being specific is part of an effective project manager. Otherwise, you will get stuck and will eventually fail to determine your success.

Set your goals in a descriptive way so that you quickly get an idea of how to design your roadmap. Instead of going for random numbers, your goal should be ” Increase the conversion rate by 20% of our site”. Be specific, be precise.

Set Goals that are “Measurable”

Implementing SMART goals in project management will help you keep measures of your goals. So that when you are halfway through your project and you would want to know how your team is doing, you can easily find out.

The metrics will help you measure that.


If you don’t have metrics regarding your project then making any last-minute changes will be a headache and also you will have a problem making adjustments. Metrics involve tasks completed per week, average hours spent on each task, and the total number of hours worked between your team.

Set Goals that are “Attainable”

This is the hardest of all the SMART goals. As a project manager, you need to decide the capability of your team and come up with attainable goals. It is not bad to be ambitious, but you need to realize that there are instances where it is not possible to attain goals.

You should keep that in mind and set realistic goals. If you want to complete a big project with a team of 5 people, not only it will burn through your team’s energy but also entails a high probability of scheduling conflicts with other projects, which can hurt the business as a whole.

The best way to set goals is by looking at the data of the previous month. The trends will give you the right idea to set goals.

Set Goals that are “Relevant”

While it is good to have many project goals, you need to ask yourself if all the goals are relevant to the project. If you are on track to accomplishing them then you don’t need to worry. However, it is a good idea to re-visit your goals on a regular basis and evaluate them.

If you think any goal is not relevant and will not add any value to the project, then just remove it. But, make sure it is not a goal that the team has already put effort into. But sometimes you need to make a hard decision and drop the task altogether.

Set Goals that are “Time-Bound”

Time Tracker Plugin

Whether the project is big or small, time is very important. It will not slow down or wait for you. That is why you need to plan for every second. If your plan contains the phrase “however long it takes”, you might want to reconsider it.

Having time-bound goals means your goals are feasible in the given time frame. It’s about understanding that some of your goals will take longer to complete than others and that you may need to set aside other goals because time does not permit its completion with the resources that you currently have access to.

So, this is how you need to set your SMART goals in your project. If you follow them, hopefully, it will bring better results.

If you are still confused then maybe our examples will help clear things up.

3 Examples of Implementing SMART Goals in Project Management

You will find many factors that affect SMART goals. Two companies may have the same type of project and goals. However, depending on the size of the company, the SMART versions of each company will be different.

For instance,

Example 1: Publish 4 high-performing blog posts every month

  • Specific: Add and schedule posts on the editorial calendar and publish them on a regular basis for a month
  • Measurebale: Are there enough visitors on the post? Are they being converted into paying customers?
  • Attainable: We have publsihed 3 posts last month and we have hired a new content writer last month
  • Relevant: 7% of our visitors are converted into customers
  • Time-Bound: 30 days is enough to perform keyword research and publish the content

Example 2: Gain 10 new backlinks in 30 days

  • Specific: Get backlinks from relevant sites to increase page visibility
  • Measurable: Use backlink tools to track newly earned backlinks and traffic to the site
  • Attainable: We were able to gain 5 backlinks in the past 30 days using timely outreach emails and offering links from our own domain
  • Relevant: Backlinks help improve our visibility on Google, which is a huge source of possible customers.
  • Time-bound: Finding sites and people to contact will take a week. Four weeks is enough to send out emails and follow-ups, and negotiate with sites that respond.

Example 3: Hire 3 employees in the next month

  • Specific: Get new talent in the company through more hires
  • Measurable: We will set up the hiring campaign to receiving applications to interviewing potential employees.
  • Attainable: We have hired 2 new emplyees in the past month
  • Relevant: New talent will lead to new perspectives and ideas. A good hiring campaign and interview process will ensure that you find the best people for the project.
  • Time-bound: One month is enough time to succeed and a short period to keep you motivated.

Hopefully, these examples will help you understand the SMART goals easily on your project.

SMART Goals vs SMART Objectives

The conceptual difference between SMART goals and SMART objectives isn’t big. Each has its own set of characteristics that make it more suitable for a particular situation.

SMART GoalsSMART Objectives
Long-term processShort-term process
Primary goalSmall steps to attain goals
Collaboration by the whole teamDivided into smaller groups to complete tasks
Follows a general strategyMore tactical, on the fly adjustments

Bonus: Implementing SMART Goals With A Smart Tool

WP Project Manager is a feature-rich WordPress plugin to manage and improve project results. This tool will help you increase collaboration between team members with a dashboard tracking all your tasks.

It lets you create individual task lists for your projects. It also has the option to track them separately and generate real-time reports within a few clicks only. Its user-friendly interface and web-based task management feature make it super easy to manage multiple projects inside a business.

More than 10,000+ companies manage their projects profitably using this high-performing project manager tool. No worry about the maintenance- it is easy to install and simple to operate.

Project Manager Task Overview

Essential Features:

  1. Blazing fast speed
  2. Project tracking dashboard
  3. Kanban board support for WordPress
  4. Auto-generated invoice for charging clients
  5. Smart representation of a summary report
  6. Task management features like Sub-task, My-task, etc.

Become an Efficient Project Manager Setting Your SMART Goals Right!

While it may take some time to implement SMART goals in projects. However when you are used to it then you will realize how effective it can be.

By creating SMART goals you can build a better rapport with upper management and your subordinates. And improved communications will reduce uncertainties and prove to be a driving factor in the company’s growth.

And if you are looking for a tool to help you with this, then WP Project Manager will certainly help. It has all the functionalities you need to manage small to medium projects.

So, apply SMART goals and build stronger strategies to make your project successful.

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