Every software project has objectives, and these objectives should be SMART goals. But what does that mean, exactly? This tutorial will introduce project managers to the concept of SMART goals in project management and explain in detail how they can help you achieve the objectives of your project.
What are Project Objectives?
Project objectives are specific and measurable results of a piece of work that has to be achieved in order to deliver the overall project objective – in our case, that could software, a patch for software, updates to software, bug fixes, and so forth. A project objective outlines what the project is supposed to accomplish.
Well planned objectives will help to keep a project on track and ensure that everyone involved knows what the end goal is. Having measurable objectives also allows for better assessment of whether or not a project was successful.
A good project objective will tell you about the purpose of your project—why it has been created — and how it fits into the overall business strategy for your software development company. They help set direction for the project, define its scope and priorities, and even provide a target for what you want to accomplish.
Objectives also give you an alternative way to measure progress when your schedule is too far out of reach or other factors prevent you from using it as an indicator. Objectives can be used in many different ways during the software development life cycle (SDLC) of a project — from defining your vision at the beginning to making sure everyone stays on track along the way.
Read: Tips for Defining Project Scope
Difference Between Project Objectives and Project Goals
A project goal is a quantifiable result that is typically broad and long-term, but an objective is more specific and includes measurable steps to reach an overall goal. Project goal is something that an organization wants to achieve in the longer term. Project objectives are for a shorter term and comprise concrete tasks that you should complete to achieve the end result.
What is a SMART Goal?
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Your team needs SMART goals that tell them what the objective is.
A SMART goal is specific in what it wants to achieve, measurable so that you can track your progress, achievable and realistic given the resources you have, and time-bound to keep yourself (and your developers and stakeholders) on track.
Why Do We Need SMART Goals?
SMART goals provide a structured approach to setting and managing expectations, enabling development teams to clearly define objectives, measure progress and adjust as needed along the way. By setting SMART goals at the outset of a project, teams can ensure they have a well-defined roadmap that will enable them to reach their desired end-result.
Projects with clear objectives are likely to succeed. By setting SMART goals for your project, you increase the chances of success. Creating SMART objectives is a key part of developing a successful project plan. Well-defined objectives keep the project on track and help ensure it is completed on time and within budget.
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Setting SMART Objectives: Specific
Specific means clear, concise, and focused. A specific objective will be measurable, actionable and time-bound. Specific objectives should be realistic, attainable and credible. This outlines precisely what needs to be done, by whom, and by when.
The project manager needs to ensure that each individual task is within the scope of the project and has a defined end point in mind for successful completion. This means that specific goals are realistic, attainable and achievable with minimal resources required on your part.
Setting SMART Objectives: Measurable
A goal should be measurable, or, at the very least, project managers should be able to measure the success of the goal. Define the outcome you want to achieve and define the metrics that will help measure progress towards that outcome; for example, “increase sales” or “decrease user error rates”.
Decide how you will measure success; for example, have conversations with key stakeholders about their thoughts on whether or not the new products were successful. It is important to monitor progress and review your goals regularly in order to anticipate any potential roadblocks and plan ahead to tackle them.
Setting SMART Objectives: Attainable
Ensure your objectives are reasonable and within your ability before setting them. Attainable goals are the key to successful project management; teams should set goals that are realistic and achievable. If you have set a bar that is too high or too complicated, it would be extremely difficult (if not impossible) for you or your team to attain the goal.
Setting SMART Objectives: Relevant
It is important for objectives to be relevant to the software project. This means that they should contribute to the overall aims of the project and be specific to what needs to be achieved. Objectives should also be achievable and realistic, and they should be time-bound so that it is clear when they need to be met.
Setting SMART Objectives: Time-bound
Project managers should ensure that your objectives are time-bound, or have a specific timeline for completion. A time-bound goal has a deadline which will help you stay focused. Time-bound SMART goals clearly define how and when a task must be completed and provide the project team with an easy reference point to evaluate progress and whether the project is on schedule or has fallen behind. This will help you stay on top of things, prioritize your tasks, and avoid procrastination.
Final Thoughts on SMART Goals and Project Objectives
Effective project management in software development teams requires setting and reaching goals. By having a firm grasp on the points discussed here, project managers will be able to set realistic goals for your team, track progress, measure success, and ensure that everyone is working towards the same vision.
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