S M A R T Goals?  Well, sometimes…

S M A R T Goals?  Well, sometimes…   


By now everyone is familiar with SMART goal setting.  You know… S M A R T goals.    

Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Realistic. Timely. 


There’s even a form developed to ensure you can check all the boxes, allowing you to thoroughly “vet” any goal you set.  Perfect.  What can go wrong?   


After reviewing our quarterly customer feedback, it was glaringly apparent one area of concern was our inability to manage the timely flow of their trucks in and out of our facility.  Being late out of our facility meant their trucks were often late to each stop that occurred after ours, creating overtime situations and other problems associated with late deliveries.    


To improve our performance, it was determined we would establish and monitor Shipping Window Compliance.  Working with our customers, window times were established for each customer pick-up.  These windows were developed to achieve the dock-unload dunnage-backload trailer-cut paperwork-depart work cycle, generally within a 30-minute timeframe. Compliance was measured +/- 15 minutes to that window time.  In other words, a carrier could arrive up to 15 minutes before their scheduled window time and depart up to 15 minutes after their window time, and that window would be considered “compliant.”  Anything outside those parameters, and the window was “non-compliant.”   


Achieving this goal would mean carriers were steadily flowing in and out of our docks in a timely manner.  It would also ensure multiple carriers / customers did not arrive at the same time, thereby leveling the workload (and manpower) across the day and shifts.   


Perfect.  We pulled out our SMART form.  Our goal was: 

    • Specific:  all carriers would conform to established window times and the work cycle would be completed within that window 
    • Measurablescheduled window was either compliant (+/- 15 minutes to scheduled window arrival and departure times) or non-compliant 
    • Achievable: Industrial Engineering and teams had determined and validated the standard work required to accomplish the tasks associated with each window 
    • Realistic:  all parties (customers, carriers, truck drivers, dock personnel, etc.) were on-board with the ability to achieve the goal, with the end result being leveled workload and increased customer satisfaction  
    • Timely:  goal was established to continuously improve from current state to 90% compliance within 6 months, and 100% compliance within the year 


To ensure all parties were continuously informed of our progress to our new goal, we established color-coded Dock Boards.  These boards provided “status at a glance” for each window during the day / shift.  Charts were added to display historical data:   compliance by carrier, by window, by shift, etc. to help us determine trouble spots and implement correct actions.  Habitually latearriving carriers received communication, along with supporting data to assist in resolving these issues. 


Were we able to achieve our SMART goal?  Absolutely.  And we celebrated our “success.


Have you caught the one fly in the ointment?  Notice anything missing in our SMART goal?  Our customers (and carriers) should have been wildly ecstatic about our accomplishment. Right?  Yah, well, not totally…. 


You see, the one thing that was missed was tying in the SHIPMENT that was supposed to be loaded onto these scheduled carriers.  Turns out, you CAN be 100% on-time with a truck….. that is EMPTY.   And frankly, there’s not much more disappointing to a customer than opening up their “on-time” truck to find the scheduled shipment was not loaded on it when it departed …. on-time.   


It probably goes without saying the NEXT iteration of this metric tied in “the correct shipment (part numbers and quantities) is loaded on the truck”.  Whether this should have been assumed in the first iteration is not worth an argument.  We met the goal AS WRITTEN and therein lies the problem. 


Bottom line: ensure whatever goals being considered address the ENTIRE improvement targeted.  ASSUME nothing.  Sometimes, it’s a good goal that is just poorly written…a not-so-SMART goal, after all!  


Are you confident that your company’s goals are SMART? Reach out to the knowledgeable team at HVMC for a new perspective, backed by manufacturing best practices and substantial industry experience. Email us at info@highvaluemanufacturingconsulting.com. 



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