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What is SMART Goal Setting?

SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Popularly used for goal setting in multiple applications like in project management, organization level, functional level, and even at the individual level.

Credit for framing and making SMART goal setting to the World generally being attributed to famous management guru Peter Drucker. The first article on SMART goal setting featured in the November 1981 issue of Management Review. SMART goal setting has been evolving since then and is now being used by most mature organizations globally.

Why SMART Goal setting is needed?

SMART Goal settingIn my personal experience of more than 20 years of driving and mentoring hundreds and thousands of projects through Six Sigma, 8D, QCC, and many more methodology always emphasized setting SMART goals for projects. In Six Sigma projects, we include SMART goal setting as a part of the Project charter itself.

This gives clarity to the team leader and helps him align his team member to drive towards the project’s ultimate aim. Management is also clear about the goal and they can set their expectation clear. If there is some fine-tuning required in the target then it can be reset by the management at the beginning of the project itself, otherwise, after completion of the project, there will be a disconnect between the management’s expectation and understanding of the team.

How to set SMART Goal

First of all, Once you decide to write down Here are the steps to be followed to set a clear SMART goal for project management or any other usage:


# Note :

1. Starts with a verb (Improve, Reduce, Eliminate, Control, Increase)

2. Start broadly and eventually include measurable target and completion date

3. Must not blame any function or propose a solution

Where SMART goal setting can be applied?

It can be applied across all the verticals of the organization. As a general practice most organizations during the beginning of the financial year they set organizational level goal setting. In certain cases, organizational level goals are the goal set by the top management for himself say CEO, MD, or director of the organization, and then basis the top management goal setting next level goal setting is being done. It can be shown in a simple graphical manner as indicated below:

Examples of SMART Goals 

Find below some examples of SMART goals from different functions:

  1. Reduce Core defect in Turbo casting by 50% by November 2021
  2. Eliminate Core defect in panel component by December 2021
  3. Increase delivery compliance from 80% to 95% by October 2021
  4. Reduce manpower attrition from current 20% to 05% by September 2021
  5. Improve Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) from 66% to 89% by October 2021
  6. Reduction in machine breakdown in line no. 05 from 17% to 09% by December 2021
  7. Increase in customer satisfaction from 65% to 90% by July 2021

Benefits and Downside to SMART Goals

SMART goal setting provides clarity to the team on the goal, so that, they can plan accordingly their action plan to achieve it and different roles can be assigned to individuals to achieve it. It also helps the team to focus on what to do and what not to do, so that, they should not be spending time on trivial things.

On the downside, some people would like this kind of meticulous work to be very complicated and would not like to align to the requirement. It also depends upon the leadership style of the organization. Some people would tend to set a plan B, so that, if they do not achieve the main goal at least they would achieve plan B.

How to Deploy SMART Goals?

SMART Goal setting

For the deployment of SMART Goals, a top-down approach should be adopted. First of all goal setting for the top management should be done. Say, in your organization CEO is the ultimate boss, hence his SMART goal should be devised first covering all critical business elements line Financial, Process Performance, Customer Satisfaction, etc. Taking this into account one level below goal should be made for all functional HODs. Once, both top management and middle management goals are set then the organization should devise goals for lower management like supervisors, engineers, etc.

We need to understand here that, goal formation should have a top-down approach whereas, the result will always have a bottom-up approach. As top management are responsible for strategy formation whereas middle management is engaged to convert strategic input into the tactical level plan and should work with lower-level management to develop a plan for operational deployment.


Since you have understood, what is a SMART goal, How to set it, what are the benefits and downsides, you can start setting a SMART goal for yourself both at a personal and professional level. Talking about the organization, One way to ensure that people are aligned to the process of SMART goal setting and understand multiple benefits it proved, the organization shall run an awareness campaign for people at all levels.

Best wishes from Quality HUB India in your journey of continual improvement !!

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