As an industry heavily reliant on deadlines and data, it’s no surprise that cohesive target setting can set project managers up for major wins. During the planning stages, there is an onus on project managers to break down each task into various steps and accompany them with evidence. After all, hunches and aspirations aren’t money-makers for the construction industry.
SMART targets support project managers with each step of a project. Following the metric allows those overseeing construction projects to accurately scrutinise and evaluate stages, removing any that are weak or based without evidence. It ensures a good case is put forward for valuable tasks and allows project managers greater authority throughout the process.
What is a SMART Target?
Excellent for budget or project planning, SMART targets ensure stages or tasks are scrutinised under a range of steps. Following this process allows greater clarity for stakeholders to understand the need and budget required for each task. Process changes, or a company’s approach to any new regulation, must be accompanied by a business case and strong data. Utilising SMART targets supports project managers by supplying a strong argument for solutions. It can also revolutionise workplace productivity and encourage more efficient processes.
SMART targets can be broken down into the following stages:
S – Specific
Ensuring tasks are clear will optimise success. If there is a specific result or end goal that needs to be achieved, this should be precisely documented with an accurate level of detail included. There’s nothing worse than a vague brief that is accompanied by little evidence or information. Not only will this assist in delivering the specified product from the brief, but workers will also be able to break down the stages to achieve this.
Removing vague targets, such as “change performance software” or “new alternative-fuelled vehicles required”, means there is limited room for interpretation. Specific targets need as much detail as possible, especially where evidence is required to back up a claim or there is a greater need for change.
Instead, project managers should provide as much information as possible alongside a target. This should typically include a need and reason, very similar to a business case.
Example of Specific Targets for Construction
Target: Change performance management software so overall productivity can be managed in real-time and viewed away from construction sites.
M – Measurable
For an accurate perspective on KPIs, various metrics need to be recorded and analysed. Good record-keeping will afford project managers greater insight into the successes of a project, from overall budget usage to performance and productivity. As well as serving existing projects, data collected can also influence later strategies and budget proposals.
Measurable targets are ideal for tracking. Anything that utilises data in some way can be measured, especially when using ERP software to record. Measurable targets are excellent for evidence but also offer another level of contingency for project managers.
Where something tangible can be measured, such as time or budget spent on a particular step within a project, it provides project managers insight. That way, if an overspend or delay occurs, it’s possible to review other areas of the project to gain time or money back.
Example of Measurable for Construction
Target: Reduce administrative tasks by 3 hours a week with performance management software.
A – Achievable
With components such as budget and legislative measures impacting construction, project managers need to be reasonable about whether certain targets are achievable. Whilst ambition is great, without attention to the details, it might fall flat. Considering permission restrictions and total costs during the planning stages will indicate whether a task is achievable.
For the construction industry, achievable targets should align with resources available and legislative requirements. However, this target could also indicate a need for more support, either through software or trained professionals.
Example of Achievable for Construction
Target: Productivity can increase once 3 hours of administrative time is freed up by performance management software.
R – Realistic
Relevant and realistic targets can often be lost within the initial planning stages, especially where there is an absence of data to back up claims. Setting realistic goals ensures that any planned work can be carried out and remain within the scope of a contract. Attempting anything else outside your company or a contractor’s remit could prove costly further down the line.
Within this process, it’s important to understand if there is a need for a solution. For project managers, realistic and relevant targets should apply to a certain project or offer greater efficiencies for a business in the long run. An example of a realistic target setting could be to adopt an ERP solution that collates all project data, improves productivity and allows real-time analysis. This could reap significant benefits for all parties involved.
Example of Realistic for Construction
Target: As well as increasing productivity, all relevant data will be available in one location for easy review and access.
T – Timely
As well as setting targets that offer success for a construction project, the tasks portrayed must be able to be completed within a realistic timeframe. Deadlines need to be agreed upon by all parties carrying out the work to ensure it affords enough time for every stage. This should also include health and safety exercises, as well as a buffer for delays that might occur, such as strike action affecting deliveries.
For stakeholders and investors, return on investment and job completion are high on the agenda. If projects are likely to take too much time, these will most likely be reworked to ensure it fits in line with agreed timings and budget and could cost construction firms money due to additional delays. Project managers should indicate a clear completion date that takes into account any delays. When timing and stages are broken down with a start and completion date displayed these offers stakeholders and customers transparency.
Example of Timely for Construction
Target: Performance management software should be available for use within the next three months and will offer clients more efficient processes and transparency around project deadlines.
How to use SMART Targets in Construction
SMART targets allow project managers to break down each task and stage within a project, offering moments to evaluate ideas. With multiple factors to consider from the outset, SMART targets assist project managers with supplying clear visions to board members, stakeholders and customers investing in the project. As plans and budgets are reviewed by senior figures, any supporting evidence should be communicated, especially if it has a positive impact on the wider business.
It’s important to note that SMART targets help evaluate any stage of a project, including the need for performance software or tender processes for contractors. In the example that a new contractor is required, SMART targets will inform the brief before pitching for new work. For many construction firms, there is a greater emphasis on adjusting environmental impact and one way can be through agencies entering into pitches.
Why are SMART Targets Useful for Construction Project Managers?
✓ Process Improvement
Where data is measurable, it can also be analysed. Throughout various stages of a construction project, data can be collected to review processes and work behaviours, as well as measure sustainability targets.
As all information can be recorded using ERP software, this enables clearer insight for project managers through a bespoke dashboard that directly meets your needs. This data can be utilised to reflect on processes that are sufficient or underperforming, allowing procedures to be reviewed and amended for efficiency purposes.
✓ Budget and Cost Transparency
At all times, project managers can view overall costs in real-time and make informed decisions with the data available. Any changes to the budget or costings can be tracked easily and viewed by stakeholders and budget managers for transparency.
KPI tracking is also possible when SMART target metrics are observed and recorded. There is often a correlation between budget and KPIs meaning project managers can spot any issues through data.
✓ Increased Value
Where processes and motivation are improved, this works to increase value for the client. Working with project managers who demonstrate an ability to positively adjust processes for efficiency looks attractive to clients in the long run.
SMART targets offer concise details about the original need for change. With everything documented, it’s easier to report on any value added through project management decisions.
Concise targets mean workers know exactly what they need to achieve without any grey areas or confusion. Likewise, project managers can use data collected from SMART targets to identify significant wins on a project. Congratulating and celebrating these could see a good increase in motivation amongst workers, both in the office and on the site.
The Need for SMART Targets in Construction
As an industry with numerous working parts, it’s vital to manage each efficiently and effectively. SMART targets ensure all tasks are clear, which creates better performance opportunities. KPIs from SMART targets can be measured and collected through ERP software, making it transparent and visible for all who need to see the data. Not only will this see more accurate profit margin reporting but it will also establish productivity levels too. Construction bosses place more onus on project managers to own and produce data swiftly.
One inefficiency that plagues construction is a workflow that isn’t fit for purpose. Simple steps using SMART targets could resolve this. With components comprising worker salaries, unpaid invoices and material stock levels, it can be tough to feature visibility at all times. Approximately 70% of construction firms express that they struggle to showcase this information, which could cause them to look less than desirable to clients. Inefficient workflows can carry stigmas for companies and don’t provide the best customer experiences.
It’s due to problematic workflows and obvious inefficiencies that the industry is now investing in project management tools that are suitable for construction projects. Issues including poorly defined goals, overrunning costs and project delays can all be mediated through ERP software. In return, construction bosses will see:
- improved efficiencies
- better reporting of sustainable targets
- increased visibility and communication
Neatly housed in a dashboard, ERP software enables project managers to reflect on previous SMART targets too. As well as offering a well-rounded view of project KPIs, it can help inform future budgeting and planning decisions.
How RedSky Can Help
Employing an ERP software that supports and records SMART targets ensures efficient workflows for your construction firm. At RedSky, our team of experts can walk you through the project management dashboard and offer a bespoke service that suits your needs.