ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems, ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems, and AS 4801 OHS Management Systems all require the setting of relevant objectives.


Objectives are goalposts and as such they drive improvement. The reason why many organisations do not reach their full potential or remain stagnant is that they don’t have this mechanism.  They simply run around putting out fires, tackling surface issues, and responding to the “problems of the day” rather than addressing process performance issues based on objective measures. This is one of the reasons why some companies remain small and why big companies don’t achieve maximum profitability.

Tip 1 – Set ‘SMART’ Objectives

This well known technique is something I always use when I’m establishing meaningful goals and objectives. SMART stands for

Specific: well defined and focused.

Measurable: there must be criteria that can be used to determine if the objective is achievable, whether progress is being made and when the objective has been achieved.

Attainable: aim to create objectives that stretch the organisation, but not so far that people become frustrated and lose motivation.

Realistic: you have the resources and support needed. Resources might be skills, time, money, equipment, etc.

Time based: set a deadline for achieving the objective and hold people to it. It drives urgency and prompts action.

Here’s a few examples to get you thinking:

  • Reduce fuel consumption in our car fleet by 10% per car in the 2014/15 financial year compared to the 2013/14 financial year.
  • Reduce finished product defects by 10% per tonne of product against our December 2013 baseline by December 31 2014.
  • Reduce incidents by 10% per 1000 employees in the 2014 calendar year compared to the 2013 calendar year.

Tip 2 – Use the Almighty Dollar

Where possible express your targets in dollar value. For example, if you’re reducing waste sent to landfill, don’t just state the tonnage reduction but the cost savings as well. It’s the best way to secure valuable management support and the resources you require to achieve even more.

Tip 3 – Review Progress

On a regular basis review your progress towards meeting your objectives. This may involve measuring the objectives every month and determining the actions that need to be taken if you aren’t going to meet your targets. Your management review meetings provide a great opportunity for discussions like this.

If you’d like some guidance or need a sounding board please email me at Alternatively, visit my website where you’ll find my Top 5 Essential Tips and free ISO 9001 procedures.