How to Write Company OKRs for Effective Goal-Setting?

 

It goes without saying that you can’t successfully run a team without formally documenting goals and objectives. That’s just like a shot in the dark.  The talented employees that you have would be of no use if they don’t have a common objective to look forward to.

 

Ever wondered how the giants of the industry slay the market with ever-growing revenues? The trick lies with OKRs.

 

What exactly are OKRs and how do they work, you might ask?

 

Read on to find out what do OKRs comprise of and some practical examples which you can easily implement in your business to achieve more in less time.

 

What does OKR stand for?

 

The acronym OKR stands for ‘Objectives and Key Results.’ It is a goal setting framework that has been around since 1970s. Popularized by John Doerr, one of the most successful venture capitalists, OKR sets the basis for defining your organizational objectives over a specified period of time.

 

OKRs are frequently set and evaluated continuously during the project lifecycle to make sure everything gets done on time. They also act as future references to monitor how well you executed your projects.

 

So, the basic formula behind an OKR is to set an objective, and 3 to 5 key results against it. These key results are concrete, measurable actions which lead towards achievement of objectives.

 

A major chunk of OKR is to make sure that everyone knows what they need to do, or what’s expected of them.

 

Now, this brings us to the question of how OKRs are different from KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)?

 

Also read: Tim Ferriss and the 4-hour Workweek: How to Escape the 9-5 Routine?

 

KPIs vs. OKRs

 

Although both of these are used as performance measures, the purpose they serve is different.  KPIs are key metrics used for evaluating how a team is performing against its goals.

 

These metrics are usually quantitative in nature and tend to accurately depict where the output stands at the moment.

 

If we dig a little deeper, we would find that OKRs are linked to broader organizational goals and objectives, whereas KPIs are mostly tied to individual performance. KPIs are put in place to keep day to day operations in check, and to evaluate the success of a particular process or activity.

 

Simply put, the OKR framework focuses more on your priorities at a strategic level. Defining an objective and jotting down ways to get there. Whereas, KPIs primarily focus on quantifying goals and priorities to track performance at an operational level.

 

OKR in Project Management

 

Setting an objective, along with possible outcomes, doesn’t sound like a big deal (it is, however), but the real game begins when you need proper action plans to achieve these objectives. This is where project management comes into play.

 

The action plan needs to determine the exact set of projects, tasks, and to-do list activities that you’ll need to map out for your objectives to become a success. There needs to be a defined way of making your way through your objectives to give them more meaning.

 

In other words, once you’ve clearly developed your OKRs, you need a step-by-step guide (projects and tasks) to help you achieve them. This step-to-step guide is what sets the basis for integrating your OKRs with project management.

 

Both OKR and project management go hand in hand. OKR gives a clear picture of what needs to be done, and project management shows how exactly to do it.

 

In order to effectively achieve your OKRs, you may need to invest in specialized project management software. When you’ve combined your OKRs with a powerful project management system, all your operations will be streamlined and will facilitate in easily measuring the project performance.

 

Also readWhat Is the Eisenhower Matrix? How to Use It to Be More Productive?

 

Success Stories – OKRs at Google

 

By now you’re probably wondering if there’s any practical example where OKR system actually worked. Good news for you! Tech giants like Google and Alphabet claim to have achieved 10 folds growth through OKRs.

 

Google was introduced to OKR by John Doerr in 1990 when it was less than a year old. Google readily adopted the process and has been implementing it since then. Through OKR Google has grown from 40 employees to more than 60,000 today.

 

The company has OKRs at every level, ranging from the upper management level, down to the individual level. All of these are inter-connected to achieve common organizational goals.

 

As your key results need to be measurable, Google uses a scale of 0-1.0 to grade them. But the aim is not 1, rather 0.6 to 0.7. If someone succeeds to get 1, their OKRs are not ambitious enough. Or are too easy, in other words.

 

However, if someone gets below 0.4, they need to look into what they’re doing wrong and push it harder to reach between 0.6 and 0.7.

 

Google OKRs are public so that every employee can see what others are working on.

 

Besides Google, other leading teams using the OKR system include Uber, Airbnb, LinkedIn, and Spotify.

 

See also:

Top 7 Qualities of an Effective Project Manager

 

OKR Examples

 

Let’s start with some of the OKR examples to help you quickly get started with the process. For your convenience, we’ve divided them up into categories.

 

1. Project Management OKR Examples

 

If your projects are product-based, you can use the following OKRs:

 

Objective – successfully launch a beta version of the product

 

  • Key Results
    • Collect feedback from the first 50% of the customers
    • Get published product reviews in at least 5 major publications
    • Get at least 50% new signups

Objective – design new product vision

 

  • Key Results
    • Get internal feedback from your team (preferably on a scale)
    • Take feedback from at least 50% of prospective customers
    • Get maximum usability score on UX mockups from prospective customers


Objective – pinpoint problems with the current user interface by Q2

 

  • Key Results
    • Run quality assurance of all features in real-time
    • Present solutions for reducing lag time
    • Identify areas that cause product lags


Objective – improve product performance by 75% by Q4

 

  • Key Results
    • Eliminate 90% bugs
    • Incorporate new tools to improve performance
    • Reduce processing time by 75%

 


 

2. Marketing OKR Examples


Objective – Increase sign-ups via email by 30% by the end of Q4.

 

  • Key Results
    • Increase click-through rate by 30%
    • Increase email open rate by 30%
    • Decrease email bounce by 30%


Objective – Increase market reach by 40% by Q4.

 

  • Key Results
    • 3rd largest distributor network growing by 10% per month
    • Published as the fastest growing network in 3 major publications
    • Increased brand visibility from 40% to 60%

 

Objective – Successfully release a monthly newsletter

 

  • Key Results
    • Finalize the structure and key topics for every edition
    • Increase subscriber base by at least 10% every month
    • Reach out to key industry writers every week

Objective – Improve web analytics and conversions

 

  • Key Results
    • Increase organic website visitors every quarter (define a number)
    • Increase CTR / Conversion rates by 3% per month
    • Get 20 back links from other websites

 

See also:

Agile Best Practices Every Agile Team Should Have in Place

 

3. Sales OKR Examples

 

Objective – achieve 40% more revenues by the end of Q4

 

  • Key Results
    • Increase gross profit margin by 25%
    • Start sales in new cities and achieve 40% more revenues
    • Increase monthly revenues by 25%

 

Objective – improve the efficiency of sales staff by 35%

 

  • Key Results
    • Positive feedback from 80% of customers about the efficiency
    • Training sessions conducted once every three months
    • Conversion rate increased by 30%

 

Objective – Increase sales by 20% in the central region

 

  • Key Results
    • On board at least 5 new vendors from the targeted region
    • Develop better relationships with the audience
    • Implement a new training system for the central region sales team

 

Objective – Increase customer retention by 60% at the end of Q4

 

  • Key Results
    • Address customer queries within 24 hours and resolve them within 48 hours
    • Get regular after sales feedback to make improvements
    • Provide relevant solutions to individual customer problems

 

4. Engineering OKR Examples

 

Objective – improved quality of features in the new release

 

  • Key Results
    • Less than 5 major bugs in production
    • Increased unit test coverage from 40% to 70%
    • Implement the new QA process

 

Objective – improve data security procedures

  • Key Results
    • Review security policies of top 5 companies
    • 100% data recovery with daily backup
    • Conduct testing using at least 2 external software

 

Objective – Improve testing procedures

  • Key Results
    • Increase time spent on reviewing codes by 20 minutes each day
    • Increase unit test coverage by 50%
    • Implement test driven development in teams

 

Objective – Maintain an agile process

  • Key Results
    • Create a knowledge-based documentation system
    • Design and implement workflow graph
    • Install new migration field

 

5. Human Resources OKR Examples

 

Objective – Improve employee engagement and satisfaction

 

  • Key Results
    • Interview employees and measure their satisfaction levels
    • Run surveys on employee need to improve work culture
    • Make sure every manager is working on a 2-way feedback loop

 

Objective – Define and promote company culture and values

 

  • Key Results
    • Conduct brainstorming sessions to get ideas on improving the culture
    • Survey all employees in understanding current values
    • Promote new values on office intranet and in an office environment

 

Objective – Complete all employee reviews on time

 

  • Key Results
    • Collect performance data from all the managers on time
    • Conduct surveys on how your employees like the current performance process
    • Implement quarterly performance reviews

 

Objective – Evaluate training needs and implement training programs

 

  • Key Results
    • Organize regular training sessions for employees
    • Review the training needs of all the new employees
    • Gather feedback from all the training activities going on

 


 

6. Support/Customer Service OKR Examples

 

Objective – Improve the efficiency of the support team

 

  • Key Results
    • Conduct training sessions per quarter to optimize performance
    • Gather feedback from the support team on current practices
    • Maintain a weekly performance report

 

Objective – Track and monitor all the critical support metrics

 

  • Key Results
    • Identify the number of new tickets and resolved tickets per day
    • Track and monitor the average resolution time
    • Track top 15 customers by active tickets

Objective – Deliver a high-end customer support experience

 

  • Key Results
    • Resolve maximum tickets within 48 hours
    • Each support rep to maintain a personal goal of resolved tickets
    • Conduct interviews with top customers to improve performance

 

7. Administrative/Operations OKR Examples

 

Objective – Improve internal document management

 

  • Key Results
    • Install a new document management software
    • Move 70% of data from old software to new during Q1
    • Maintain each team’s own directory of documents

 

Objective – Increase the efficiency of all internal processes

  • Key Results
    • Introduce new tools by the end of Q4
    • Conduct training sessions about new tools
    • Run performance measures to see the impact on productivity

 

Objective – Improve IT and infrastructure by Q4

  • Key Results
    • Eliminate systems downtime by the end of Q3
    • Improve the IT team’s response time and internal satisfaction
    • Install new backup systems and processes

 

Objective – Streamline inventory management process at the end of Q1

  • Key Results
    • Forecast needs of all departments by the end of Q3
    • Track the quantities ordered with that of need, by Q1
    • Implement a new system for better processing of inventory

 

8. Accounting and Finance OKR Examples

 

Objective – Improve annual budgeting and planning process

  • Key Results
    • Have a meeting with each division manager about new processes
    • Review budget proposals by the end of Q3
    • Identify loss areas and reduce unnecessary expenditure by 70% by Q4

 

Objective – Improve financial reporting processes

 

  • Key Results
    • Maintain a well-kept financial record at the end of every quarter
    • Install a new system for keeping financial records in check
    • Make sure to close all financials at the end of each quarter

 

Objective – Develop a financial strategy for the next 3 years  

 

  • Key Results
    • Conduct discussions with managers by the end of Q4
    • Raise funding during the first three quarters
    • Finalize budget at the end of Q4

 

Objective – Grow monthly recurring revenues to $150,000

 

  • Key Results
    • Increase the number of subscriptions per month to 80%
    • Reduce churn rate to less than 1% monthly
    • Create product demos for every customer who signs up

 

9. Design OKR Examples

 

Objective – Improve performance of design team

 

  • Key Results
    • Conduct relevant training sessions to optimize performance
    • Install new design software to reduce design time
    • Create guidelines for increasing the efficiency of the team

 

Objective – Create a design prototype of the product at the end of Q2

 

  • Key Results
    • Gather all the requirements
    • Use advanced tools and software to create the design
    • Give weekly reports to get timely feedback and make changes wherever required

 

Objective – Design product as per client’s requirements

 

  • Key Results
    • Conduct meetings with the client to fully understand the requirements
    • Design a draft and get approval at the end of the first quarter
    • Launch beta version of the product by Q3

 

Objective – Redesign and relaunch the landing page by end of Q3

 

  • Key Results
    • Run tests on the existing landing page to understand issues
    • Design new page structure by Q1
    • Present final redesign to project manager for approvals

 

In a nutshell, OKRs provide organizational focus to your team and help in drastically improving productivity.

 

If you are already setting business and company goals using the OKR framework, share your views about it with us in the comments below.


 

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