Developing SMART Objectives for IT
Probably the best way to develop well-written objectives is to use the SMART approach. Developing specific, measurable objectives requires time, orderly thinking, and a clear picture of the Results expected from activities. The more specific your objectives are, the easier it will be to demonstrate success.
Specific: What exactly are we going to do for whom?
The “specific” part of an objective tells us what will change for whom in concrete terms. It identifies the setting and specific actions required to achieve the objective. In some cases It is appropriate to indicate how the goal will be achieved or how will be implemented (e.g., through training).
Verbs such as Coordinate, partner, support, facilitate, and enhance are not good verbs to use in Objectives because they are vague and difficult to measure. While, verbs such as publish, increase, decrease, schedule, or purchase indicate clearly what will be done.
Measurable: Is it quantifiable and can it be measured?
Measurable implies the ability to count or otherwise quantify an activity or its results. It also means that the source of and mechanisms for collecting measurement data should be Identified.
A baseline measurement is required to document change (e.g., to measure percentage Increase or decrease). If the baseline is unknown or will be measured as a first activity step that should be indicated in the objective as “baseline to be determined using …………..” The data source you are using and the year the baseline was obtained should always be specified in your objective statement.
If a specific measurement instrument is used, you might want to incorporate its use into the Objective. Another important consideration is whether change can be measured in a meaningful and interpretable way given the accuracy of the measurement tool and method.
Attainable/Achievable: Can we get it done in the proposed time frame with what we have available?
The objective must be feasible with the available resources, appropriately limited in Scope, and within your control and influence.
Sometimes, specifying an expected level of change can be tricky. To help identify a Target, talk with your colleagues, manager, look at historical trends. Often, talking to others who have been with the group for a while or who have moved through the ranks can provide you with information about expected change.
Relevant: Will this objective have an effect on the desired goal or strategy of the company?
Relevant relates to the relationship between the objective and the overall goals you have for yourself. As well as the Goals relevant in the Office, Region and Group. Evidence of relevancy can come from a Previous review, best practices, or feedback received directly from business.
Time bound: When will this objective be accomplished?
A specified and reasonable time frame should be incorporated into the objective Statement. This should take into consideration the environment in which the objective Must be achieved, the scope of the change expected, and how it fits into the overall Goals of the Group. It could be indicated as “By 1 August 2013, the program will” or “Within 6 months of receiving the training,…”
Bear in mind the Review process timeline
October / November – Objective Planning and Development.
March – Progress Review (Mid-Year Review)
August – Evaluate and Review (End of Year Review)
It is not advisable to set objective timelines that overlap the the review period or go outside of the objective timeline as this could jeopardise successful completion of your objectives.
A simple SMART objective template can be found here.
This template is a simple fill in the blanks and will assist your team through the process of being able to keep objectives specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based objectives.