In order to develop and standardize objectives across the operational plan, the County employed the SMART approach. In this methodology, developing objectives required County departments to think clearly about the expected results of objectives and present them in a consistent way that can be compared and measured. SMART stands for:
- Identifies the population or setting, and specific actions that will result, including appropriate indication of how the change will be implemented. Direct verbs such as provide, train, publish, increase, decrease, schedule, or purchase indicate clearly what will be done.
- The ability to count or otherwise quantify an activity or its results. Additionally, that the sources of and mechanisms for collecting measurement data are identifiable, accurate and meaningful, and that collection of these measures are feasible and timely. Measures can be quantities, percentages, dates or completion of a task, such as a study or project.
- Must be feasible with the available resources, appropriately limited in scope, and within the department’s control and influence. They must balance being challenging yet achievable.
- The relationship between the objective and the overall goals of the strategic plan based on best practices and professional experience. Objectives that directly relate to the goal will help achieve the goal.
- A specified and reasonable timeframe for when the objective will be achieved or measured. This provides a sense of practical urgency.
Drafting SMART objectives allows the County to develop performance measures that provide accountability and provide insight on dimensions of equity and sustainability.
Each objective has up to four key steps, which are the critical activities necessary to accomplish an objective, and function as a checklist that breaks down a complex problem into manageable tasks.