Improving Workflow Management With SMART Objectives

Improving Workflow Management With SMART Objectives

Workflow management is a core component of effective and organized business management, especially in today’s hybrid workforce. A big part of constructing and managing workflow effectively is setting clear goals and communicating them with your team. When businesses set specific goals and are transparent across teams, they can expect increased productivity in return. Sharing goals and objectives with employees creates a broader sense of community around completed work. Rather than completing mundane tasks each day with little knowledge of company progress, team members can now connect their individual tasks to the broader scope of work completed by the team. 

Statistics show that 90% of people perform better when presented with relevant and challenging goals to complete.

So, as a workflow manager, how do you create a challenging goal that is also achievable? SMART objectives provide an outline to create tasks that are more easily managed and completed. SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic/Relevant
  • Time-bound


Create specific guidelines for each task so that employees know exactly what they need to do to complete the task. An easy way to ensure that all of the relevant information is included in the task description is to answer the five Ws — who, what, when, where, and why.

Say you’re goal setting for an upcoming website relaunch for your product. Because this is a larger project, you may want to consider breaking up broader objectives into more achievable goals. When doing so, it’s important to consider who will be the recipient of the task and who is working on it. In this case, your current and prospective customers are the recipients of the website, and any developers, designers, marketing specialists, and other team members collaborating on the project should be listed below the goal as well. In some instances, management or a team lead may be the recipient of a smaller component of the project.

Now consider what is expected by outlining task details and specifying the format. These details may not be listed within the SMART goal itself but should be shared amongst the greater team. In terms of a website, each stage of the website building process should be specified with corresponding tasks. It’s also important to consider when and where these tasks will be due. Connecting back to the website example, make sure to set specific timelines for marketing, design, and development goals and specify where the finalized components will be shared. Finally, providing a ‘why gives employees insight into what this task will be used for and how it is necessary. Try and include a ‘why’ wherever possible. 


Easily track task progress by setting a desired outcome, and then think about which task elements can be measured along the way. For example, if one task is to create a document with a complete list of clients, this can be measured by how many clients have been added to the document.

The easiest way to measure task progress is by including percentage, frequency, rate, or a target number into your goals. By implementing one of these methods, task progress becomes measurable by comparing it to a quantitative target value. This makes it easier to determine whether goals and objectives have been achieved. 


Make sure that employees have the right tools and skillset to achieve the task presented before them. Tasks should be challenging but not so challenging that an employee is unable to complete them. If a task is too complex to complete in the proposed timeline, your employee may lose motivation to attempt the task, resulting in a loss of productivity in the task and other areas of work. There are also other elements to creating an achievable objective or goal, including time, resources, money, workload, and the number of team members assigned. It’s important to consider all aspects of achievability when creating effective SMART goals.


Ensuring that a task is realistic and relevant goes hand-in-hand with achievability. Ensure that the outcome of this task will propel the company towards its goals and produce useful results. Is the size of the task realistic to be handled by a single person in the allotted amount of time? If the task is large and involves different components, consider breaking it down into subtasks that can be assigned to other team members. This gets the task finished sooner so that everyone can move forward to the project’s next stage.

It is important to reflect on how this specific task benefits the company as a whole moving forward. This connects with the specific ‘why’ of the goal. If there is no clear outcome that improves the company, consider scrapping the task. This leaves time for employees to put energy into more meaningful tasks.


It’s important to set a due date for completion so that this task does not get overlooked or carried across to-do lists for too long. But, make sure that the time given is manageable and that the task can realistically be completed within the desired time frame. If it is a large task that may take weeks or months to complete, breaking the task down into subtasks that can be completed sooner gives a better picture of project progress and completion. 

Giving employees realistic deadlines while keeping in mind other assigned work increases the likelihood of meeting deadlines. This boosts employee productivity because they did their job well and completed a task on time, rather than rushing the task and submitting it late, resulting in a drop in morale and a potentially worse job done. A deadline gives the task urgency and prompts action.

What Does a SMART Goal Look Like?

Now that you have a good idea of what makes up a SMART goal, take a look at the examples below. These examples are based on a scenario of a website relaunch. Notice how there is one, overarching objective, but goals have been specified for each team. Although this is not a complete list of goals that would be developed pertaining to the project, it provides a glimpse into a project-specific example.

Objective: Increase global sales by 25% within two months of the website relaunch. 

Of course, this objective requires the team to come together and create a revamped product website. This acts as the ‘why’ to give context to the team-specific goals listed below.  

Marketing Goal: Write SEO-specific copy for the new website and share the document in Google Drive by November 25th.

Design Goal: Create a landing page mock-up that incorporates the new copy and share it with the team in Slack by December 13th. 

Development Goal: Reference the designer's landing page and code the website accordingly before December 23rd. 

SMART Goals and Workflow Management

Using SMART objectives improves workflow, boosts productivity and helps to see results more quickly. It can be easy to convert your goals into SMART ones once you have the mantra in your head.

Creating SMART objectives is also a good idea when it comes to smaller tasks. For example, creating a budget for an ad campaign requires the same SMART qualities to ensure progress can be tracked, and the goal is achievable. Setting specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely objectives makes it easy to plan and monitor progress and to accomplish goals more quickly and effectively.

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