Specific: the goal must be specific as to what we want to achieve. By the end of 2010, our gross margins will increase 15%. The goal should clearly define the specific result we want to achieve.
Measurable: a goal which is not measurable cannot be achieved. We want to improve customer service is not a sufficient goal – if we cannot measure our result, it is not a goal. We want to improve customer service by 35% as measured by our quarterly survey is a measurable goal.
Attainable: the goal should be ambitious, but attainable. If your company has only ever served 2,000 customers in a given year and you set a goal to serve 20,000 customers (without some significant change in company size or budget), you are likely to fail. If you have served 2,000 customers for several years, perhaps serving 3,000 customers isn’t that much of a stretch.Make your goals ambitious, but achievable.
Relevant: goals should be relevant to your vision and mission. If you’re Best Buy, setting a corporate goal to increase clothing apparel sales is a poor choice. We worked with a banking software development firm that was setting goals regarding their customers’ growth and not their own. These goals are not directly relevant to what the company was doing – they could not control whether or not their clients grow. All they could control was growing their own client base.
Time-bound: your goals should have a definitive start and end. A goal with no end date will continually be moved. Committing to a due date will allow employees to create milestones to achieve on the way to that goal.