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Defining SMART goals and objectives

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When running a project, its ultimate success or failure can only be defined when measured against predefined goals and objectives. Definition of these takes place during the planning phase of the project. It is imperative that these goals be SMART. By that I mean:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time constrained

Hughes and Cottrell write (2009): “A project can be a success on delivery but then be a business failure. On the other hand, a project could be late and over budget, but its deliverables could still, over time, generate benefits that outweigh the initial expenditure.” A few paragraphs later, they write something that gave me cause for pause: “Because the focus of project management is, not unnaturally, on the immediate project, it may not be seen that the project is actually one of a sequence.” What we learn from this is that a sense of history, of what has come before, is important, and potentially imperative, to the success of the project at hand, as well as its successors.

This is where the definition of SMART goals and objectives comes in; by measuring the product of a project by these, by defining goals and objectives for both the project and the business, and by letting these be informedby what has come before, we get better projects, delivering better end results.

Hughes, B and Cotterell, M (2009) Software Project Management, London, McGraw Hill

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