Identifying a goal is easy. Achieving it is another thing\u2014especially if you are in IT and have to deal with other departments and vendors. Indeed, figuring out what is a realistic goal and then determining how it will be met is one of the biggest challenges IT executives and project managers face. And while project management software can help, it is up to the project leader to lay out the goal, or goals, and create a road map. Here are eight tips to help IT managers do that.\n[ Related: 7 nontechnical skills every project manager needs ]\n1. Work your way backward\n\u201cIt is critical to the success of attaining our goals that we know exactly what we want to accomplish,\u201d says Susan Gilell-Stuy, executive coach at Leadership Compound. \u201cDesigning goals with the end in mind means delineating and clarifying what the ultimate goal being sought is, and establishing the path that gives you the best chance of seeing it come to fruition. Agreeing in the short term on where we are ultimately headed \u2014 even when we don\u2019t all agree on the nitty-gritty of the how this will be done \u2014 creates [a] shared enthusiasm and investment in striving for the same result.\u201d\n2. Define requirements up front\n\u201cClearly define your requirements prior to starting a project,\u201d says Sanjay Govil, founder and chairman, Infinite Computer Solutions. \u201cIn the beginning, it is imperative that they are fully stated and agreed to between all of the stakeholders. Changing these requirements in the middle of a project is one of the leading causes that contribute to delays and cost overruns.\u201d\n[ Related: 8 project management skills in high demand ]\n3. Consult with all stakeholders\n\u201cWhen setting goals \u2026 talk to your counterparts in marketing, product, etc. to understand factors that may impact you and your ability to set or meet a goal,\u201d says Magda Walczak, chief customer officer, Search Party. \u201cYou don't work in a silo. Getting input and buy-in from other areas will ensure that your goals are realistic and may even garner support for actually achieving them.\u201d\n\u201cThe entire team must be involved in the goal-setting exercise to create commitment and ownership of a project,\u201d says Roman Fry, principal, North Highland Consulting. \u201cLeaders may suggest goals, but the team must agree, believe and achieve by committing to each other that they will do their part for team success.\u201d\n4. Create specific, measurable goals\n\u201cIf you create a goal with a measurable metric, you have an almost certain chance of knowing when [or if] you've achieved it and when you haven't,\u201d says William Hall, vice president, Learning and Development, Simulation Studios. \u201cFor example, instead of 'reduce employee turnover,\u2019 [make your goal] \u2018reduce employee turnover by at least 5 percent in the next 6 months.\u2019\u201d\n [ Related: 6 ways to be a better project manager ]\n5. Divide large goals into small, more manageable goals\n\u201cTrying to achieve an enormous goal all at once can be overwhelming,\u201d says Jonathan D. Roger, project portfolio manager, AndPlus. \u201cInstead, split large goals into smaller goals that you can accomplish in less time. Achieving a smaller goal takes less time [and] you get the satisfaction and motivation of achieving a goal [and] seeing your greater vision realized. Smaller goals are also less risky, and you can more realistically consider how much time a smaller goal will take to achieve and what challenges you may face.\u201d\n6. Use project management software\n\u201cIf you are managing a large team it can be tough to keep on track of everything,\u201d says Jennie Holmes, digital strategist, Generate Solutions. To better manage tasks, \u201cuse a [project management] platform that meets your business needs.\u00a0JIRA\u00a0and\u00a0Wrike\u00a0are two great project management platforms that work well within IT. Within Wrike you can assign a deadline, and you have a great comment feature,\u201d she explains. \u201cThis is how you can engage your team around the shared goals. They can [provide] feedback [regarding whether] specific tasks are unrealistic\/unachievable [and] can also see how their contribution impacts the wider project and timelines.\u201d\n[ Related: 12 project management tools worth a look ]\nWith project management software you can \u201cassign tasks to team members\u00a0and keep users organized and on track to meet weekly goals,\u201d says Eileen O'Loughlin, market researcher, Software Advice. \u201cThese tools allow managers to assign due dates, set up alerts for impending deadlines and flag at risk and overdue items before they put the project in jeopardy. PM tools also act to centralize team efforts and create a shared workspace [where] users can collaborate and communicate easily.\u201d\n7. Track your progress\n\u201cTrack your goals constantly, and make sure your team has visibility into them,\u201d says Tim Burke, director of IT, BetterCloud. \u201cThe shorter the feedback cycle, the better chance your team has of achieving their goal.\u00a0Having a daily KPI email, a Slack update or live dashboards the entire team can view helps maintain focus you wouldn't have if the goals are tracked on a less frequent basis.\u201d\n8. Celebrate successes\n\u201cCelebrate your team\u2019s success in achieving major goals,\u201d says Nic Grange, CTO, Retriever Communications. \u201cWinning becomes a habit,\u201d he explains. And by celebrating wins, team members will come to associate achieving a goal as something positive and desirable. \u201cIt also helps the team form a stronger bond.\u201d\nHow to play it smart\n\u201cIT managers should follow the SMART rule when setting goals with employees,\u201d says Janet Brown, CIO, Garden City Group:\n\nSpecific \u2013 Ensure goals are employee-specific and can be understood with metrics.\nMeasurable \u2013 Provide specific details on what the baseline metrics are at the beginning of the year and know how much you\u2019re trying to improve.\nAttainable \u2013 Avoid long, lofty goals and instead set goals for quarterly and annual deliverables that can be achieved.\nRealistic \u2013 Create goals that are within the scope of your influence and your team\u2019s capacity.\nTime bound \u2013 Set specific dates to review progress and make adjustments.