So, a new year is already upon us. On a personal level, it’s a time when we often take stock of our current situation and maybe resolve what we are going to do for self-improvement. Perhaps we are going to get fitter, lose weight, get out more – or go out less!

The same principle also applies on a business level. It’s the perfect time of year for setting objectives and KPIs.

At the simplest level, an objective is a statement of a desired outcome. Most of us respond to a challenge and consequently perform better when we have a target to aim for. In contrast, an organization - just like a person - will probably drift aimlessly without having objectives to work towards.

Furthermore, applying some structure and discipline around the planning of objectives is almost certainly going to add some real value to the process. That also applies to the monitoring of progress towards them.

All of the ISO management system standards require organisations to have objectives. They don’t prescribe what those objectives should be, but they do expect you to have some.  They also specify a number of requirements for your objectives and their planning. For example, you need to determine such factors as:

  • Who is responsible for each one etc.
  • What your objectives are
  • The resources required to achieve them
  • A target date or time period.

Check out clause 6.2 in any of the major ISO system standards for the full details.

The SMART principle

The principle of SMART objectives is a very useful guideline to follow (although the principle is not explicitly specified by the standards). SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timed. As you will probably have noticed, acronyms are very popular in management systems!

The SMART principle may be simply explained as:

  • S - Specific - The objective should be focused on only just one thing or group of things
  • M - Measurable - It should be possible to measure whether or not you achieve the objective
  • A - Attainable - The objective should be within your capabilities
  • R - Relevant - The objective should be something meaningful and of importance
  • T - Timed - There should be a time scale or deadline for achievement of the objective. For example, over the financial or calendar year, or for a target to be met by a certain date

There are some possible variations on this theme. For example, the 'R' can be used to denote 'Realistic'. However, we consider that topic is already covered by 'Attainable'. Therefore we prefer the definition listed above.

50 sample objectives

People often find it difficult to think of appropriate objectives for their management systems. So, we have put together 50 examples of objectives to get you started:

  1. Train (x) new first aiders by (date).
  2. Train (x) new internal auditors by (date).
  3. Achieve ISO 9001 certification by (date).
  4. Have an ISO 45001 OHSMS Gap Analysis conducted by (date).
  5. Review the fuel-efficiency of our vehicle fleet over (time period).
  6. Conduct an energy audit of head office by (date).
  7. Top management to discuss aspects of the management system in at least (x) blogs / management meetings / newsletters over the financial year.
  8. Conduct at least (x) QMS / IMS awareness sessions over the calendar year.
  9. Reduce incidents of manual handling injuries by x (%) over the financial year.
  10. Introduce new QMS / IMS software by (date).
  11. Train all (roles e.g. managers / team leaders) on new QMS / IMS software by (date).
  12. Provide all employees with opportunity to attend a (topic e.g. quality / OHS / environment / information security) awareness seminar during this calendar year.
  13. Develop a series of information security policies to provide clear business rules to our workers by (date).
  14. Develop a change management plan for a clear screen, clear desk policy by (date).
  15. Communicate changes for the clear screen, clear desk policy by (date).
  16. Implement a clear screen, clear desk policy by (date). Note: These are good examples of 3 related objectives.
  17. Conduct an OHS audit of all sites and offices by (date).
  18. Conduct a review of the company web site by (date).
  19. Introduce new mobile-friendly web site by (date).
  20. Implement (frequency e.g. quarterly) customer newsletter by (date).
  21. Review and streamline the (name) process by (date).
  22. Increase average customer satisfaction score from last year's (x%) to over (xx%)
  23. Increase plant utilisation rate by (x%).
  24. Implement new induction process by (date) – this is a good example of a process-based objective.
  25. Become corporate members of (organisation e.g. Chamber of commerce, AOQ etc.) by (date).
  26. Review / test our data storage and backup arrangements by (date).
  27. Develop a business continuity plan by (date).
  28. Make customer care calls / visits to (number e.g. top 50) clients on a (frequency e.g. quarterly) basis.
  29. Achieve NPS (Net Promoter Score) of (x) in annual survey.
  30. Update all job descriptions to include QMS / IMS responsibilities.
  31. Achieve customer satisfaction rating above (x%) averaged over survey responses received during (time period).
  32. Increase DIFOTIS (Delivery In Full On Time and In Spec) to (x%) over (time period).
  33. Introduce new product / service (name) by (target date).
  34. Expand geographic area serviced to include (place) by (date).
  35. Reduce product / service lines to only include those that are profitable / have margin above (x%) by (date).
  36. Update external recruitment process to utilise ISO 9001-certified partners by (date).
  37. Develop and communicate social media policy / guidelines to all workers by (date).
  38. Complete implementation of a Risk management database by (date).
  39. Conduct a disaster recovery drill for (event) by (date).
  40. Conduct an information security review of (specify extent) by (date).
  41. Introduce a well-being programme by (date).
  42. Provide training to (x%) of workers in CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
  43. Review top 20 products for their environmental impacts on a life-cycle perspective.
  44. Develop a strategic plan for social media marketing / customer communication.
  45. Develop a communications plan for our IMS by (date).
  46. Update our web site to include an ‘our management system’ page.
  47. Implement an awards programme for best Quality / Environment / OHS / Information Security suggestions by (date).
  48. Expand our QMS into an IMS including (add relevant topics such as ISO 14001 Environment, ISO 27001 Information Security and / or ISO 45001 OHS) by (date).
  49. Transition our OHSMS to achieve ISO 45001 certification by (date).
  50. Introduce IMS Objective progress reporting at (specify type) management meetings.

There are many possible variations on some of the examples. We hope that they will give you some good ideas.

Next steps

The first step is to get started in planning at least a few objectives for your whole organization and important parts of it. Those may be business units, programmes, processes etc. It's certainly a good idea to involve interested parties in the discussion / planning of objectives.

Our Quality, Safety and Enviro Toolkits include a more in-depth discussion on SMART Objectives and provide some handy templates. Qudos Club members and Qudos 3 subscribers already have access to these comprehensive toolkits.

Qudos 3 software has an exclusive, dedicated Objectives module that offers an even more sophisticated and integrated approach. You can monitor progress in one central place via the Objective register and its dashboard. Each objective may be used to generate multiple, separately assigned and tracked action plans.

We wish you a successful in 2019. Contact us for further details on Objective planning for your management.