Setting SMART Objectives

What are SMART Objectives? Find out how you can apply the acronym against your organisations strategy to improve performance and time management.

There are a number of different versions of the acronym with different terms associated with some of the letters as indicated in the table below. They should be based on organisational strategy and be aligned with corporate vision, mission and values.

They can be set at the level of the whole organisation or at divisional, department, team or individual levels.

  • SMART objectives came into place back in 1955 and are now firmly established within most successful companies and sit comfortably alongside most end of year appraisals.
  • An objective is a statement which describes what an individual, team or organisation is hoping to achieve.

Definition of SMART Objectives



Objectives should be specific. They should be outlined in a clear statement of precisely what is required, describing the result that is desired in a way that is, detailed, focused and well defined.



Measurement is hugely important because it will enable you to know whether an objective has been achieved. Therefore, include a measure to enable organisations to monitor progress and to know when the objective has been achieved.




(or agreed)

An objective can be said to be achievable if the necessary resources are available or similar results have been achieved by others in similar circumstances. Design objectives to be challenging, but ensure that failure is not built into objectives. Objectives should be agreed by managers and employees to ensure commitment to them.


(or relevant)

The concepts of 'realistic' and 'achievable' are similar and this may explain why some use the term 'relevant' as an alternative. Focus on outcomes rather than the means of achieving them.



It is necessary to set a date or time by which the objective should have been accomplished or completed and this contributes to making objectives measurable. Therefore, agree the date by which the outcome must be achieved.

Download the full checklist:  pdf-icon Setting Smart Objectives

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