Using the smart goal setting method

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.

  • Specific: Provides a clear description of what needs to be accomplished

  • Measurable: Provides a metric, or number, that identifies when the objective has been achieved

  • Attainable: The objective must be achievable, within the timeframe and resources allocated

  • Relevant: Meaningful, significant, and aligned with corporate priorities

  • Time-Bound: The objective must be concluded by a specific date, scoring occurs at this time to determine if the objective has been achieved

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.

  • Specific: Increase recurring revenue in 2019

  • Measurable: Achieve a 25% increase versus one year ago

  • Attainable: Improve upon 2018 performance with 15% increase through new customers and reduced churn

  • Relevant: Revenue is the engine that drives our profitability

  • Time-Bound: Set specific numerical targets for each quarter in 2019

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.

  • Specific: Improve the bench strength of the sales and marketing departments

  • Measurable: Reduce turnover to less than 10% and recruit and hire at least three people each quarter

  • Attainable: Salary and recruiting budgets are adequate to achieve these targets

  • Relevant: Sales and Marketing are key drivers to the company’s revenue and profitability

  • Time-Bound: A mix of quarterly and annual objectives

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.

  • Specific: Improve customer service and the user experience

  • Measurable: Respond to all tickets within 12 hours, and increase NPS score to 98

  • Attainable: Response times and NPS score represent incremental improvement versus one year ago

  • Relevant: Our customer’s experience will determine our ability to grow

  • Time-Bound: As measured by quarterly metrics for response times and NPS scores

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

  • Specific: Objectives are specific, answering What needs to be accomplished

  • Measurable: Key Results are Measurable, they are typically metrics or numbers which define when the Objective is achieved

  • Attainable: Objectives are attainable, yet inspirational, and in some cases aspirational. Google uses two types of objectives, which they refer to as aspirational and committed. Aspirational goals require more of a stretch by the organization and may need to be rolled from period to period before being accomplished

  • Relevant: Objectives are relevant. They must be aligned with corporate priorities, moving the organization in the desired direction, often in support of the mission or vision statements. Quarterly OKRs determine the focus of the entire organization and inform the work to be done in the period

  • Time-Bound: Key results are time-bound, the typical cadence in an OKR environment is quarterly. Key results are expected to be completed within the current quarter

Company SMART goal example as an OKR

OBJECTIVE: Increase recurring revenue by 25% in 2019

Key Results:

  • Key Result 1. Generate ARR of $250k per quarter, $1 million in 2019

  • Key Result 2. Secure a net gain of at least five new customers per quarter nationally

  • Key Result 3. Hire three new account executives per quarter

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.

See Workfront in action

In this interactive tour, you will get hands-on experience using Workfront. You will learn how Workfront enables the enterprise to:

  • Connect strategy to delivery
  • Iteratively plan and prioritize work
  • Collaborate across teams and divisions to get work done
  • Streamline and optimize processes
  • Measure and report on progress
  • Deliver against your strategy