Setting ‘Smart’ goals – expert tips

Setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goals is an essential part of organisational success.

Setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goals is an essential part of organisational success.

Published Jan 11, 2024


SETTING goals is an essential part of organisational success. However, simply setting goals without a strategic approach can lead to unattainable objectives and wasted resources.

That's where specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (Smart) goals come in. This framework provides a clear structure for goal setting that focuses on working towards meaningful objectives - thereby increasing the likelihood of success.

Align efforts

Setting goals is crucial for organisations as it provides direction and purpose. Without clear goals, employees may lack motivation and become disengaged. Goals help align efforts towards a common objective, ensuring that everyone is working towards the same outcome. Additionally, goals provide a benchmark for measuring progress and evaluating success. By setting goals, organisations can improve performance, boost productivity and achieve long-term growth.

Smart goals are a strategic approach to goal setting that ensures objectives are well-defined and actionable.


Specific goals are clear and concise, leaving no room for ambiguity.

Instead of a vague goal like "increase revenue", a specific goal would be “increase revenue by 10% in the next quarter”.

By being specific, organisations can focus their efforts on a precise target - making it easier to develop strategies and allocate resources effectively.


Measurable goals allow organisations to track progress and evaluate success. By defining clear metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs), organisations can monitor performance and make data-driven decisions.

Measurable goals also provide a sense of achievement as milestones are reached - motivating employees to continue their efforts.


Goals should be challenging, yet realistic. An achievable goal is within the realm of possibility and takes into account the organisation's resources, capabilities and constraints.

Setting unattainable goals can lead to frustration and demotivation; while setting easily achievable goals can result in complacency. Striking the right balance is essential for organisational success.


Relevant goals align with the overall business objectives and contribute to the larger picture. Each goal must have a clear purpose and directly impact the organisation's mission and vision. By setting relevant goals, organisations can ensure that efforts are focused on what truly matters - and avoid wasting time and resources on irrelevant tasks.


Time-bound goals have a specific deadline, creating a sense of urgency and accountability.

By setting a timeframe for achieving goals, organisations can prioritise tasks and allocate resources accordingly. Deadlines help prevent procrastination and ensure that progress is consistently made towards the desired outcome.

Breaking down larger goals into smaller milestones with specific deadlines allows you to track progress effectively and ensure that you're on track to achieve the overall objective.

​When you have a finite amount of time to achieve a goal, it forces you to focus on the most important tasks.

Industry examples

Smart goals can be applied to various industries and sectors. Here are a few examples:

Sales: Increase sales by 15% within the next six months by implementing a targeted marketing campaign and improving customer retention strategies.

Human Resources: Reduce employee turnover rate by 20% within the next year by implementing a comprehensive employee engagement programme and improving workplace culture.

Product development: Launch two new product lines within the next quarter by conducting market research, developing prototypes and implementing a streamlined production process.

Customer service: Improve customer satisfaction ratings from an average of 3.5 to 4.5 out of 5 within the next six months by implementing a customer feedback system, providing additional training to customer service representatives and improving response times.

Healthcare: Reduce patient wait times by 20% within six months, improving overall patient satisfaction.

Technology: Increase software user adoption by 15% by the end of the year through targeted marketing campaigns and user-training programs.

Retail: Achieve a 10% increase in online sales within three months by optimising website performance and enhancing the user experience.

* Supplied by Gestaldt Consulting Group