In European projects, several steps must be considered for the project we want to write to be effective and impact the social fabric. After having carried out a thorough analysis of the community’s needs, as described in our previous article, it becomes necessary to focus on the objectives we want to pursue with our project. Whether we aim to raise young people’s awareness of environmental issues or to increase the employability of young people with fewer opportunities, it must be clear from the outset that the success of our project will depend directly on our ability to set sufficiently structured objectives to make it clear to the evaluators (those who are called upon to score our project) what we want to pursue. So how do we do this?
Setting goals is essential in every sphere of life. Therefore, also in the field of Euro planning, goal setting is crucial importance. We all have to set goals for our projects and put them in the right way. When we do not set goals correctly, we leave our project’s success to uncertainty.
This acronym initially dates back to a November 1981 issue of Management Review, written by George T. Doran, which referred to the definition of S.M.A.R.T. goals as a critical step in pursuing corporate objectives. Objectives must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic (or Relevant), and Timely (or Time-bound, referring to a specific time horizon) to be considered well-defined.
The objective must be defined explicitly, without any ambiguity. It cannot be subject to individual interpretation but must specifically explain what is to be achieved and the expected result. The more specific you are about your goals, the better you will be able to reach them regardless of the method you use.
How your target will be achieved and its quantitative or qualitative measurement method must be clearly described. In other words, you must be able to answer the question: “How do I know that the target has been achieved, and what evidence is needed to confirm this?”.
This criterion emphasises the importance of setting goals that are challenging for your team but achievable concerning existing constraints. A goal cannot be achieved ‘by any means but through your team’s method, means and skills. You are asked to assess whether the goal is realistic, taking into account the other goals you have already set, for example. If the goal is out of reach, it will become unattainable and futile. This criterion makes it clear how necessary it is to focus on what resources and means are needed to achieve the goal and to ask yourself whether you have them: what skills are needed? what human and financial resources do I need? do I have all the necessary skills and resources?
The objective you want to pursue must be linked to your priorities and those of the organisations involved in the project and, therefore, your team. Only goals that align with the team’s mission and do not conflict with other objectives are relevant. This means that the purposes should be in line and in harmony with what you want and correspond to your core values. If your core values contradict your objectives, or you write a project with people who do not share the values on which you are building your project, then you will get frustrated and not take your project forward.
This criterion emphasises the importance of specifying an appropriate time frame for your goal: when should it begin and end? What are the steps and milestones to reach it? What are the expected intermediate results, and by when? Answering these questions helps to define a sense of priority. Make sure you set deadlines for your goals. Divide your main goal into smaller goals so that you can keep track of your progress along the way.
In European projects, besides paying attention to the correct definition of your objectives according to S.M.A.R.T. logic, focus on objectives and priorities that align with those of the program to which you want to apply for funds.
Are you interested in the topic of dissemination activities? The case of S.M.A.R.T. objectives is just one of the many topics that revolve around euro planning. Check out this article.
Written by Antonio Scrocco, Infotech team (Italy)