Setting specific, measurable goals and objectives is key in project management - like planning a road trip, you know where you want to head. You take the time to plan; you map your route, where you will grab meals, re-fuel and where you will spend the nights. It is really helpful to set specific mid-way destinations to ensure you are on target for getting to your destination on time (and on budget).
To maximize your success and impact it is important, whether personally or professionally, to spend time to form a clear understanding of your objective, the strategies you will employ to achieve those objectives, and bench marks by which you can evaluate our progress.
Clear Objective - This is key. Where there is no vision the people perish! We need to have a specific target to aim for and that target needs to be well defined. This definition will help you know when you have achieved your objective and whether or not we have been successful.
Objective conducive to values - Does it fit with your corporate and personal values? This is important to consider. If the objective is out of line on either, perhaps you need to re-examine the objective. It is no fun to have to “work against the grain” of your personal and corporate values regardless of potential bottom line. This is measured when we ask the specific question "Does this fit..." and the frank reflection that follows.
Strategies - A clear, specific sense of your objective will help you to choose the best course of action towards that goal. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line and with clear, specific goals you can access the best process to achieve your goals. Again, be specific, anticipate potential challenges and plan for them, and also decide how and when you will evaluate them. Then, implement your strategy.
Measurable outcomes - Clear objectives will allow you to measure your outcomes. If your goal is to 'grow the company' what exactly does that mean? Improve sales, reduce cost of good sold, profitability? By how much? In what time frame? Be specific. How do you want to grow? What specific areas can you measure to evaluate growth and determine if you’ve been successful?
Reward the right behavior - By having clear specific objectives it helps us to know how to structure your incentive programs for your employees. If we simply reward our employees on volume, we may see volume increase with profitability being off set by poor margin on new business. Perhaps incentive-ize around around specific up-sells with specific targets. By having clear objectives we provide incentives based upon measurable results that reward specific desired behavior. You will also notice the more clear about what you expect and what the objective is the better the employee buy in.
Interim Goals - design interim goals and assess. This bench mark is a good place to stop and reflect upon the progress to date, what is effective and what isn’t. It will help you determine if indeed you are on target and then make any adjustments to your strategy. Again these interim goals are a part of your strategy and need to be specific and measurable.
Celebrate the Milestones - Be deliberate to celebrate the achievement of interim goals. Provide and solicit feedback from all involved. Celebrate and use this momentum for the next phase toward the end objective.
Intangibles - These are those things which may not be measurable in an obvious way but none the less are indicators of success. These would include things like integrity, good will, corporate responsibility and transparency. This is why we as people and corporations need to understand our values. What good does it profit a man if he gains the whole world at the expense of his soul! Look at these intangible areas, evaluate them by asking "were we true to what we say we believe?"
These few simple project management strategies will go a long way in helping you achieve objective in a meaningful way. This will in turn facilitate new objectives with efficient and effective strategies. You have tools to measure your progress and will help direct you on any corrections needed and new opportunities to be leveraged in achieving your objective.