Smart Goals for Project Managers

    1=Initiation, Leadership

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What is the role of the project manager? The PMBOK® Guide, Seventh Edition 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. Let's look at how to write SMART project goals.

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


What is SMART?

Goals are often vague. And if you ask team members why their project is critical to their organization, they struggle to articulate the reason(s). So, how can SMART goals help? SMART is an acronym used to give goals meaningful attributes. Let's examine the acronym.


Specific. When writing goals, 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.

Objective. Something toward which work is to be directed, a strategic position to be attained, a purpose to be achieved, a result to be obtained, a product to be produced, or a service to be performed.

–PMBOK® Guide, Seventh Edition

Project 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 Charter

The project charter is a high-level document issued by the project sponsor that describes the project goals, deliverables, assumptions, constraints, top risks, key stakeholders, and team members. The charter should be created during the initiating process and submitted for formal approval.

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 strategic objectives.

The What, Why, & How of Project Charters

Are you tired of rework and adverse impacts to your projects due to a lack of clarity upfront in your projects? Discover the exact, proven system I use to engage stakeholders, improve collaboration, and initiate projects.

How About You?

If you are writing goals or have existing goals, consider the SMART acronym. Refine the goals. Engage your key stakeholders for review and feedback.

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