Short-term objectives are specific activities that must be completed to meet short-term goals. Short-term goals, in turn, help long-term targets. Well-developed strategic business plans include both short-term and long-term goals. Specific short-term goals should be written in clear, plain and precise language. They must be sufficiently specific to be attainable within a limited time frame. The importance of long-term objectives is to meet targets and underlying strategy.
Strategic business planning depends on long-term visions to reach future targets. Long-term aims are reached through short-term goals and objectives. Business strategic plans for years include annual targets, and these annual targets are divisible by monthly aims. The monthly goals can be broken down to weekly and daily short-term objectives.
The accomplishment of short-term objectives and goals indicates strategic success to reach the overall target. The failure to reach short-term goals demands a reevaluation of the business strategy to stay on course.
Two business tools to develop long-term and short-term goals use the acronyms DRIVE and SMART. Long-term goals must be Directional, Reasonable, Inspiring, Visible and Eventual (DRIVE); short-term goals must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Rewarding and Timed (SMART). The direction of the long-term goals directly influences the planning of the short-term goals and plans. For example, the long-term goal to reach 2400 new customers by the end of the fiscal year can be achieved by a specific goal to add 240 new clients per month or 60 new clients per week.
SMART short-term goals set specific targets that can be measured quantitatively, and they must be attainable within a set time frame. The time frame is relative to the total project or undertaking. A short-term goal can be measured in performance by the hour, day, week or month. A reward system facilitates high performance to reach short-term goals.
The short-term goals are necessary to reach the long-term goals. For example, many department stores pay associates for each credit card application processed. The department store, shoe department manager and shoe department sales representatives must take in a specific number of approved credit card applications on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to meet the companies long-term goals.
Short-term objectives are required steps to reach a long-term goal. If the short-term objectives conflict with the long-term strategic plan, the plan will be thrown off course. In obtaining a four-year college degree, short-term objectives would include selecting a major and taking specific classes under that major. An engineering student may complete an art history class to fulfill a specific requirement as a short-term objective to the long-term goal.
However, if she continues to take art classes in place of the required engineering courses, the short-term objective conflicts with the long-term goal. Short-term objectives and goals are required stepping stones in the direction of the long-term goals.