How to Write SMART Project Goals

    1=Initiation, Leadership

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What is the role of the project manager? The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) says, "The project manager is the person assigned by the performing organization to lead the team that is responsible for achieving the project objectives (my italics)." Defining clear objectives and goals is the foundation of the project. Let's look at how to write SMART goals.

"People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine." —Brian Tracy

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Write SMART Project Goals

So, what are SMART goals? SMART is an acronym that stands for:


Specific. When writing goals, the author write specific goals. Avoid being vague and general.

Does the goal support the strategy of the organization? If the project goals are achieved, will the organization make significant progress towards the company's mission, vision, values, and corporate goals?


Measurable. Can the goal be measured in terms of cost, quality, quantity, and timeliness?


Agreeable. (Some people use Achievable.) Has the team worked together to define the goal? Also, can everyone support the goal?


Realistic. Have you ever chuckled as you read a goal that you knew was not attainable? While it is a good thing to challenge the team, make sure the goal can actually be achieved. Don't fall for the fallacy of stretch goals. Furthermore, make sure the goals are relevant or results-oriented.


Timebound. All goals should have a deadline. This adds a sense of urgency and keeps the team focused.

Additionally, in my post How To Write Clear Goals, I provide a simple syntax to aid individuals in writing specific, measurable goals.

Sponsor Goals

The author of the project goals varies from one organization to another. However, I strongly suggest that the Project Sponsor define the goals.

Frankly, some Project Sponsors need help. The project manager may assist the Sponsor in the defining the SMART goals. Most Sponsors will welcome the support.

"The project manager plays a critical role in the leadership of a project team in order to achieve the project's objectives. This role is clearly visible throughout the project. Many project managers become involved in a project from its initiation through closing." —PMBOK 6th Edition

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The Project Charter

The project manager should include the goals in the project charter. Developing the project charter is a process in the Project Initiation Process Group and is the process where projects are formally recognized and approved.

Many organizations have Project Boards or Committees that review project submissions and evaluate the project in terms of strategic importance, financial viability, risk, and regulatory compliance. Part of this evaluation includes an assessment of how the project goals align with the corporate goals.

Write Your SMART Project Goals

Got goals? If you are starting to write goals or you have existing goals, write them using the SMART filter. Refine the goals. Engage your key stakeholders for review and feedback.

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