The rise of Objectives and Key results (OKR) as a goal-setting framework has been evident since its adoption at Google. Many companies are now looking to adopt the OKR methodology. Naturally, number of OKR softwares in the market are growing & it is difficult to pick one over the other.
Given that teams are still coming to terms with what exactly OKRs are & how to adopt them, we have listed a few important points that are MUST HAVEs for any OKR Software.
Tailor made for Objectives and Key Results:
Obviously this should be your first and foremost criterion for choosing any OKR software. If you select any generic goals management software, chances are – it wouldn’t be able to support intricacies of the OKR methodology.
Major shortcoming when you choose a generic system over a tailor made one, you would never know where you are deviating from the OKR concepts.
Enterprise level flexibility:
The way any organisation utilises OKRs could be vastly different than others. More often than not, from our experience, there are minute variations in the approach teams take towards OKR. Some make the process more like an agile goal setting whereas some still keep a semi-annual/annual cadence. Some prefer strictly public OKRs whereas some do not mind privacy controls. The list is endless.
It is important to have configurability in place to achieve these minor tweaks. You never know, what feels like an unsuitable approach for your team today might end up being adopted in a few months from now.
Helps visualising the complex alignments through supported views:
Alignment is a key feature of OKR. It is not something that is strictly limited to organisational hierarchy but can spread across various departments, teams and individuals as well. The OKR software should help to visualise all these complex alignments through supported views, making it easy to keep track of the progress. Everyone gets to know how their progress is tied with others’ and who is aiming for what.
Not able to look at the overall picture through these alignments can set your team up for failure to make the most of OKRs.
Scalable from small to large teams:
We are not only talking about performance, security and robustness of the software application. These should of course meet the highest standards in the industry. But more importantly, the OKR software should evolve as your process evolves with changes in team size. e.g. initially you may want to ensure progress updates every 2 weeks but as the team size grows you may desire weekly updates. It could be other way round as well, reducing frequency as the team size grows.
Whichever direction your process evolves, the OKR tool should evolve with you.
Able to reflect real time progress with integrations:
One of the key elements of an OKR tool is its ability to automate the progress update by integrating with other tools. The process of rolling up progress from low level tasks even to company OKRs gamifies the process a bit, encouraging the individual contributors along the way. And of course, one of the obvious benefits is you don’t have to manage progress in multiple places. Saves a lot of operational overhead for your business.
This empowers the end users to focus on getting things done than getting them updated.
Key Results are supposed to be of quantitative nature in OKR methodology. That obviously leads to a lot of numerical data & analytics around not just progress but also the overall process adoption. Most softwares provide seemingly endless data. But the OKR software you are going to choose should be able to give you insights that are actionable. E.g. how many & which of the employees are not actively involved in OKR adoption, is there a particular department whose goals are proving to be bottlenecks for the company level OKR achievement etc.
OKR software should be User-friendly:
This may sound like a cliche but it is very important to choose a software that has a seamless user experience. Failing to do so might lead to low adoption rates, high risk of failure to achieve company goals and other long term problems. Make sure that the OKR tool can be easily integrated into your team’s daily routine and does not require any special efforts. Within the software itself, try to assess how detailed attention is given to core features of the product.
Although OKRs are proving to be immensely successful, they are not as complex as many companies tend to think. The simplicity can be gauged by the fact that Google used to manage its OKRs in spreadsheets for a long time. And even now, they use an internal tool that doesn’t boast of any fancy features. The obvious point we are trying to make is affordability of the tool. Build a business case and ROI assessment before making any purchase decisions. Tools that cost hefty part of your budget do not necessarily mean that they are going to be magic wands for your team.
Do you think we inadvertently left out any important points in the above list? Tell us in the comments.