Using the smart goal setting method

In this article, we’ll define the SMART goal setting approach, explain how to use SMART goals, and provide practical examples. Interwoven in the examples will be the best practices in implementing the SMART method. We’ll also introduce the concept of using SMART goals in an OKR (objectives and key results) methodology and detail the similarities of the frameworks.

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What are SMART goals?

SMART is an acronym, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound, that sets the criteria for setting goals and objectives. SMART goals are used in strategic planning to develop business goals that are concrete and geared towards execution in a defined period, often during quarterly planning or annual planning meetings.

The SMART method was first introduced in the November 1981 issue of Management Review in a paper authored by George T. Doran titled, “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management Goals and Objectives.”

SMART goal examples

Company-level SMART goal example

We will increase recurring revenue by 25% in 2019, exceeding our 2018 performance by acquiring additional new customers and reducing churn, which will improve overall corporate profitability. We will do so by hitting established targets each quarter throughout the year.

People operations SMART goal example

Improve the bench strength of the sales and marketing departments by reducing turnover of top performers in each discipline to no more than 10% annually, and onboarding at least three new people each quarter, within the allocated budget. This will improve the overall performance of these two key disciplines which drive our sales and profitability, as measured by retention and recruiting metrics each quarter.

Customer success SMART goal example

Improve customer service by improving the user experience and reducing response times, as measured by our NPS score, which we’ll improve from 95 to 98. This will reduce customer churn and improve our reputation in the industry, as measured by quarterly response time and NPS metrics.

SMART goals and OKRs

Both goal setting frameworks provide criteria and a methodology for developing goals, and both methods address each element of the SMART acronym.

With OKRs, a collaborative goal-setting protocol for companies, teams, and individuals, objectives are what is to be achieved. They should be significant, concrete, and action-oriented. They represent the direction. Key Results benchmark and monitor how we get to the objective. They should be succinct, specific, and measurable. They typically include hard numbers. Using a strategic planning tool like Workfront Goals can ensure your OKRs are SMART, tracked effectively, and aligned to your organization's strategic goals.

OKRs encompass SMART goal criteria

Company SMART goal example as an OKR

OBJECTIVE: Increase recurring revenue by 25% in 2019

Key Results:

OKRs adhere to the SMART methodology

Specific: Increase recurring revenue by 25%

Measurable: Generate ARR of $250k per quarter

Attainable: By securing the required number of new customers and aided by an increase in manpower, the objective should be achievable in the specified time frame.

Relevant: Revenue is still the engine that drives profitability

Time-Bound: Metrics: $250k in ARR, five new customers, and three new account executives every quarter

We hope these SMART goal examples help you understand SMART goals and OKRs.