There’s a good chance you’ve already met SMART objectives, whether in business continuity planning or elsewhere. This acronym is multi-purpose and comes up in sales, marketing, manufacturing… and business continuity. A quick reminder on what SMART stands for: S is for specific; M for measurable; A for Achievable; R for Realistic (or Relevant); and T for Time Limited. So, for example, “we will achieve 99.7% business continuity in our main production line over the next six months” may qualify as SMART. We should perhaps check that 99.7% is reasonably achievable and the production line is making things that help company profitability (relevant). But are all the goals we see in business continuity SMART?Let’s try a business continuity example. In business impact analysis for instance, we might see a goal to ‘identify financial implications of a disruptive incident X’. We don’t yet know by when this should be done, and we might question whether it is achievable (do we really know where all the impacts are). It might also turn out to have less relevance than we thought, given that damage to reputation and brand image may be huge even if direct financial loss is relatively small (for example, a customer cancelling a small order for a vital part because of non-respect of delivery deadlines).

We could make the objective above SMARTer. Examples might be to specify that both financial and non-financial implications are listed and quantified where possible; and that this is done by Thursday of next week. Once you get into the habit of applying the SMART checklist to different objectives, you’ll appreciate its power and usefulness, especially in business continuity. The key thing is to think through each letter and make sure that an objective truly satisfies all five SMART criteria – or adjust it until it does.