This article is a submission from The Gray Bear. The Gray Bear is a US-based IT consultation and service company offering world-class solutions for website, mobile app, and software design and development.
Setting goals is one of the primary business processes that involve a significant amount of planning and research.
Despite all the efforts that a business puts into goal planning and strategy formulation, there is a high chance of plan failure, which can tremendously harm the business in the long run.
Recognizing this challenge, present-day businesses have shifted from more modern and time-tested goal-setting strategies, like SMART goals. This technique of strategic planning involves setting goals with a thorough understanding and deliberate planning for the best research.
Moreover, out of all the businesses utilizing the SMART goals technique, those which are digitalized have witnessed tremendous benefits.
This blog will provide complete information on how digitalized businesses can efficiently set SMART goals and gain maximum returns from their investment in digital technologies.
We have also provided numerous examples where SMART goals have aided strategic planning in digitalized businesses, so make sure to read the blog until the end.
Let’s start the blog by thoroughly understanding what exactly SMART goals are and how they are useful for businesses.
What are SMART goals?
‘SMART goals’ stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound objectives.
This is a basic framework for planning business strategies and helps businesses get clarity on what they want to achieve. Moreover, SMART goals are also useful in other aspects, such as planning day-to-day activities and achieving personal growth.
In terms of business planning, SMART goals enable organizations to stay clear on their objectives and aims and help them manage their strategies successfully.
These objectives also serve as a guideline for daily business operations, making them an excellent solution for businesses that suffer from inadequate and failed planning.
In the upcoming section, we will take a closer look at each element of ‘SMART objectives’ and will figure out their significance in business planning.
In order to efficiently achieve a goal, a business needs to be very specific and clear about its requirements.
Replacing ambiguity with specificness can help businesses clearly define what they need to achieve as well as how they are going to achieve it.
For example, instead of planning, ‘I will increase my sales this year’, you can use action verbs in the planning process and say, ‘I will grow my sales by focusing on customer retention.’
Of course, you will still need to define further mediums that you will use to achieve this goal, but being specific about your plans will enable you to draw an outline for planning tasks and subtasks.
The second element of ‘SMART goals’ is ‘measurable,’ which means quantifying goals so that they can be measured in terms of desired outputs and results.
For example- Instead of setting goals like ‘I will increase my team’s size in the next three months’, you can set a specific, measurable target for your objective and plan, ‘I will increase my team size from 100 employees to 120 employees in the next three months’.
This aspect of SMART goals will also enable you to track your plan’s progress and will help you determine the extent of its success. By having a specific and measurable output ready, you can determine whether or not you have entirely achieved your objective.
Many business owners set targets, but few are able to meet their goals, which can result in great disappointment.
More often than not, this is because the business owners disregard the achievability factor of their set goals. The ‘Achievable’ element of SMART goals is useful for overcoming this challenge.
Here, you have to determine whether or not the planned target is practically achievable. To do this, you need to take factors like plan realisticness, capital availability, time feasibility, and resource utilization into account.
For example, if you are planning to bring new business, you need to have a realistic vision and set a target that aligns with the currently available resources.
If you are planning to bring 400 new business leads within two months, you will certainly need to invest additionally and aggressively in marketing, which can often be impractical. This is where you need a reality check and evaluate whether or not your business is ready for this scale of transformation.
Here, you have to think about the goal’s purpose and its contribution to your business’s overall success. You have to determine why exactly you are setting the goal and how it will help you achieve your business’s objectives in the long run.
For example, if a business owner is planning to expand its operations and penetrate a new market, it has to assess whether or not it is ready to do so.
If you are a UK-based business and want to enter the US market, you have to determine if it is the right time to do so. You also have to think about how your business will handle the drastic time and resource requirements that come with international expansion.
This step will also help you prioritize your goals and achieve objectives that have a higher contribution to your business’s growth. By the end of this step, you will be clear on what to do and what not to do with the current state of your business.
The final step of setting SMART objectives is deciding a timeline to achieve the set objectives.
It is commonly known that pushing the project’s completion is easy when there are no deadlines. This often results in business inefficiency.
For example, if you are planning to launch a new product in the market, you must determine an expected timeline for each milestone of the product development process.
This will help you to calculate the progress of the project against the time it is taking to be finished and determine the process’ and employees’ efficiency.
Time-bounding your plans ensure optimal resource utilization and guarantees the best results. Having a time frame in place is applicable for projects of scale and size, especially the ones requiring a long-term commitment.
We are sure that by now, you are clear on what it means to set SMART goals in business planning.
One of the primary reasons why businesses implement SMART objectives is to eliminate ambiguity and gain clarity throughout the organizational hierarchy. This then enables employees to understand and measure the success of each objective within a pre-defined framework.
In the case of digitalized businesses, SMART objectives help businesses leverage technology and are instrumental in achieving organizational goals with ease. Owing to this factor, more and more digital businesses, regardless of their scale and size, are setting up SMART goals.
In the upcoming section, we will thoroughly discuss how SMART objectives can be useful for digital businesses for a better understanding of the duo.
SMART goals + digitalized businesses
It is commonly known that digitalization is the latest business growth strategy and is being widely adopted globally.
Speaking factually, the market size for business digital transformation is valued at USD 1.79 trillion in 2022. You must note that while taking your business digital is a billion-dollar growth idea, the process of business digitalization comes with numerous challenges.
Overcoming these challenges requires additional planning and strategies, and we are sure by now that there is no better way to foolproof your plan than to incorporate it with SMART goals. These goals help you create infallible digital growth plans and help your business gain maximum returns.
You must be wondering, ‘how to incorporate SMART objectives in my digital growth strategies’, right? The upcoming section will provide a few practical and time-tested examples in which businesses have crafted successful digitalization plans using SMART goals.
6 examples of setting SMART goals in a digitalized business
Example #1: Increase website’s search engine ranking
Every business with a website on the World Wide Web aims to achieve a higher rank on the search engine. This is because the higher the website’s rank is, the more organic traffic it will have, and the less it will have to spend in marketing budget to get noticed by its target market.
However, merely deciding to increase the rank of your website is not enough. You need to have a strategy in place that will help you rank higher on the SERP.
Here is how SMART goals can help you create a website ranking plan:
Specific: I will increase my website’s rank by using the latest SEO techniques and optimizing the web pages as per the search engine’s guidelines.
Measurable: My website’s current rank on the search engine is 20th. I will increase this rank and will aim to bring my website within the top 15 results.
Achievable: Owing to high competition on the keyword, I will first aim to achieve my website’s rank from 15 to 10.
Relevant: Having a higher rank on the search engine is essential for my business and can help me cut down on the advertisement budget.
Time-bound: By the end of this year, I will aim to rank my website within the top 10 search results.
Example #2: Get more organic leads
Every business aspires to get as many organic leads as possible. However, this objective is often challenging to achieve, as generating organic leads is time-consuming.
Moreover, a lot depends on the market competition. When many companies compete with each other for business, it becomes difficult to generate leads without spending additionally on advertisement and marketing.
Here is how you can develop a SMART goal-based lead-generating strategy.
Specific: I will increase my organic leads by focusing on best digital marketing practices like regularly publishing keyword-focused content on my website and creating top-notch conversion points.
Measurable: My current organic lead percentage is 30%. I will aim to increase this percentage by 40%.
Achievable: Considering high keyword competition and limited resource availability, I will focus on taking slower steps toward maximizing my organic lead percentage.
Relevant: Having more organic leads will help me cut down on the marketing budget and balance the organic and paid lead ratio.
Time-bound: In the upcoming three months, I will focus more on organic leads than paid leads and will try to maximize their percentage.
Example #3: Automate operational management
Process automation is one of the core advantages of business digitalization. Today, businesses utilize numerous technologies to automate their processes and gain efficiency.
The implementation of process automation is evident in all aspects of business management — from core operations like manufacturing and inventory management to other operations like accounting and human resource management.
Here is how SMART goals can help you automate your business processes.
Specific: Using technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence will help me automate my processes and gain efficiency.
Measurable: I will automate at least 30% of the finance and accounting processes in my company.
Achievable: I will automate one department and core function at a time and will give time to my employees to gain familiarity with the new processes.
Relevant: Automating my processes will help me to reduce my human resource requirements and will increase the preciseness of the final output.
Time-bound: In the upcoming five years, I will fully automate all the manual processes and will incorporate technology in every aspect of my organization.
Example #4: Ease data storage
Efficiently storing data and having it available on demand is one of the biggest challenges that organizations face at present.
Moreover, the larger the scale of operations is, the more challenging it becomes for a business to store and manage its data.
However, efficient data storage is necessary for seamless communication and swift business operations. This makes it a great idea for businesses to utilize digital technologies for this purpose.
Here is how you can formulate a strategy using SMART goals and ease your organization’s data storage challenges.
Specific: I will use cloud computing technology to store my data on digital clouds efficiently.
Measurable: I will shift all my financial and employee data to digital storage.
Achievable: I will utilize both high-end and manual data storage techniques like cloud computing and Excel to store the organization’s data for better management.
Relevant: Utilizing digital technologies for digital data storage will enable me to enhance its security and share it seamlessly across the organization for better business communication.
Time-bound: By the end of this year, I will shift my entire business data from manual storage to cloud storage.
Example #5: Add new features to company website
Whether you are using a website to offer your goods/services to customers (eCommerce/ on-demand services) or just to have a digital presence, you need to undertake regular website upgradation and add new features.
This requires researching the market, studying customer demands, and, most importantly, analyzing competitors’ websites.
It is also important to note that adding new features to a website is not a cakewalk process and involves numerous risks, which require careful upgradation planning.
Here is how SMART goals can help you create a fail-proof strategy to add more features.
Specific: I will hire a web development outsourcing agency to add new features to my website without any hurdles and challenges.
Measurable: I will add two new sections at a time to avoid overcomplicating the navigation for users who are familiar with the website.
Achievable: Adding new features will require additional capital investment and can result in website downtime, so I will undertake slow upgradation with careful planning.
Relevant: Adding new features will keep my website up-to-date with the latest market trends and inclinations and will help me retain my customers.
Time-bound: By the end of the upcoming year, I will fully upgrade my eCommerce website from its current MVP version to a full-scale and advanced version with new features and functionalities.
Example #6: Digitalizing customer support
Customer support is one of the core functions of every business. It is commonly known that customers require support for numerous reasons, and by providing assistance, you can add to their experience.
However, efficiently providing customer support can often be challenging for large-scale businesses. This is because these businesses receive a ton of support requests every day from their gigantic customer base.
This is why numerous businesses are considering the digitalization of customer support. Keep on reading to build a solid customer support digitalization strategy with SMART goals.
Specific: I will use automation technologies like AI-based chatbots to ease customer support.
Measurable: I will completely digitalize at least 50% of all the customer support services, especially those which do not require human intervention at the primary level (delivery status inquiry, grievance management, order cancellation, etc.)
Achievable: I will undertake a swift transition from conventional to digital customer support to maintain service quality.
Relevant: Digitalizing customer support will help me to eliminate human resource requirements from the particular department and make better use of my resources.
Time-bound: In the next six months, I will integrate digital customer support assistance in my organization.
These were a few ways in which businesses can benefit from SMART goals and undertake swift digital transformation and growth.
Summing it up
Strategic planning is an essential part of every business and requires intensive forecasting. However, it is commonly known that despite thorough planning, business strategies are likely to fail.
This is why many businesses are using SMART objectives as a technique to plan their strategies. By following this approach, you are certain to create infallible strategies for your business.
This is especially the case with digitalized businesses that require careful planning at every stage of their operations.
SMART goals and digitalization are a revolutionary duo with the capability to provide tremendous growth to your business. Today, most digital growth strategies can be planned with SMART goals for their seamless execution and unparallel results.
This makes setting SMART goals a reliable technique for achieving digitalization objectives and leveraging technology at present.