Guide to Picking the Right OKR Software

Are you looking for a way to improve your business strategy and drive execution? If so, consider OKR software. OKR software is used by top business leaders to optimize goal setting and tracking, fill in missing gaps, and drive success as a whole.

What are OKRs?

OKRs stands for Objective & Key Results. They provide an effective framework that answers the two-part question, “What do we want to achieve, and how will we measure progress?”

Objectives – The end-goals and the destination you are trying to achieve.
Key Results – Metrics that act as milestones or checkpoints that measure progress toward achieving the objective.

The idea of OKRs has been around for a long time and revamped throughout history. The term was crafted in the 1970s when Andy Grove added “Key Results” onto Peter Drucker’s previously defined management concept of MBO – Management by Objectives. In 1999 venture capitalist John Doerr introduced OKRs to Google, which at the time was just a struggling startup. After adopting the OKR framework, Google grew to become one of the nation’s leading Fortune 500 companies. And thus, the success of OKRs was proven.

Using OKRs to measure success

Your strategy is never complete without an execution plan. In “Measure What Matters: OKRs: The Simple Idea that Drives 10x Growth,” Doerr puts it simply: “Ideas are easy. Execution is everything.”

Like all data, OKRs only make a difference if they are tracked correctly. This is critical to making informed decisions and keeping the business moving in the right direction. By comparing actual results to desired results, CEOs can determine whether or not their strategy is working. If not, they can make the necessary changes to improve their approach to execution.

Examples of high-level OKRs for CEOs and leadership teams include increasing customer retention by 10% each quarter, launching 3 new products within the year, and grow revenue by 15%.

What is OKR software?

OKR software helps business leaders and their teams implement an effective OKR strategy. The idea is to provide an effective structure for goal setting and tracking that helps instill productive habits that drive success over time.

Benefits of OKR software

1) Connect daily actions to the big picture

OKRs helps ensure that your business strategy has no loose ends. Oftentimes leaders will work hard to come up with a foolproof plan, but will fall short on the execution of it. In fact, 85 to 90% of businesses don’t actually execute the plans they create.

Using OKRs means having a well-rounded strategic approach – from defining your goals to accurately measuring your progress toward them. OKRs break down your larger goals into smaller steps and tasks so that you and your team can actively take steps in the right direction instead of blindly grasping at straws to try to get from point A to point B.

2) Increase company transparency & accountability

OKR software provides granular visibility of your cascading company goals and tasks, so that your team members can see key data that the company measures. This transparency helps build team trust as everyone knows exactly what their teammates are working on and how they are progressing.

The ability to assign roles to specific team members also boosts accountability in your culture, eliminating miscommunication surrounding who is responsible for what.

3) Adopt better communication among the team

As mentioned above, OKR software helps reduce miscommunication. When everyone knows what each other is working on, you know all important tasks are covered. Having access to everyone else’s updates also helps reduce the need for meetings to share what everyone is working on, which can be a huge timesaver for managers.

Visualization across the board also provides managers with opportunities to check in with team members about targets that may be lagging, or to congratulate them when they are ahead of schedule.

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OKR software checklist

When choosing OKR software, it’s important to consider your business’s individual needs. Some programs are designed for specific industries, while others are more general. Some may also be better for SMBs while others are for larger corporations.

Here are a few factors to consider when selecting OKR software:

1) Performance & Usability

One of our favorite quotes at Align is:

“A user interface is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s not that good.”

OKR software should be intuitive and user-friendly. The thought of learning and adopting new software can be daunting and it seems like a big time commitment just to get started. Look at how different software rank in their user experience and overall performance before making a purchase decision.

Some ways to do your research are:

  • Schedule a demo to see how the software works firsthand
  • Read customer reviews or reach out to customers directly to ask about their experience
  • Inquire about free trials or test accounts so you can check it out on your own

Another factor to consider when you are trying to save time is the setup process. Certain software may require you to work with an implementor, while others are easy enough to set up on your own. More advanced software may have a longer rollout period than others.

2) Features

Different software offer different features, and it’s up to you to know which ones fit best with your company needs. Some features that could be deal-makers or deal-breakers are:

  • KPI Dashboards – KPI Dashboards provide a clean visualization of your company-wide KPIs in real-time.
  • Customizability – Some software have one universal interface used by all customers, whereas others come with customization capabilities that allow you to emphasize certain features, re-structure your target tracking, etc.
  • Meeting tools – Built-in meeting tools help instill better communication habits among teams. Software like Align come with various templates for different types of meetings, including All-Hands Check-ins, 1:1 Meetings, and Monthly Target Reviews. These tools allow you to run your meetings directly in the software by providing a place for your virtual meeting link, agenda, team member updates, notes, questions, and recap abilities.
  • Integrations – Adopting a new software does not have to mean abandoning your current software, as long as integrations are available. Look for software that integrate with popular systems like Salesforce, HubSpot, etc. An open API or Zapier integration are huge benefits, as they allow you to integrate with any system you choose as long as they are compatible. Access to multiple integrations is usually a good sign that the software is compatible with most business operations.

4) Price

Depending on your budget, certain software will make more sense for your wallet than others. Some software offer tiered subscriptions that allow you to pick and choose features that make the most sense for your business. You will also want to determine how many employees you want to have access, as many software charge per user. Some companies decide to roll out their use of OKR software among the leadership team first before paying for additional seats.

Be mindful that software often come with hidden fees, including onboarding and support costs. It’s important to ask about about these costs upfront in your early conversations to ensure that you know exactly what you will be paying, and leave room for negotiation.

5) Customer Success

When weighing options, you also want to consider how different software rank in terms of customer service. You should know what kind of customer help is promised to you with your purchase.

Some questions to ask are:

Does my subscription come with a Customer Success Advisor?
Will I have access to up-to-date learning resources, support channels, and FAQ pages?
What is included in my onboarding?
Will my questions be answered in a timely manner?

6) Cybersecurity

Security is one of the most important factors when considering any software purchase. Make sure you understand how your data is stored, encrypted, and guarded against unauthorized access. You should also inquire about data backup protocols and disaster recovery plans.

If data security is a foreign language to you, consider enlisting professional help from a security consultant. Their expertise can help you make sure that your data is safe and secure so you don’t have to worry about compliance issues or data breaches.

Scaling with OKR software

OKR software is not only useful for ease and convenience purposes – perhaps the most valuable thing about it is its reinforcement of effective habits that support leadership, productivity, and communication for your team. Not only can software keep you informed and organized, it will improve team performance by building your employees into leaders and fostering an excellent culture.

To see if Align could be the right software for you and your business, schedule your demo today.

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