Objectives and Key Results (OKRs for short) are changing how companies define and communicate success. Why not have a read through our free beginners guide to OKRs to get more information on how you can align and grow your company.
One thing is for sure. If you try and manage OKRs and performance management via spreadsheet, even if you’re a ninja with macros, it will fast turn into a monster. The effort will soon outweigh the rewards, and either you’ll give up or others will opt out. So what are your choices?
Most businesses and organisations don’t have the resources or expertise to develop their own software. At the same time, the cost of access coming down across the board as more and more software becomes available online. It makes sense to look at what is out there and how it might help you manage your OKRs.
OKRs and performance management made easy
Many business functions lend themselves to being managed via a system. For instance, finance functions have seen Sage and now Xero improve their speed, accuracy and efficiency. OKRs and performance management in general is relatively late to the web-based software-as-a-service revolution (apps to you and me). However, we are now starting to see a few systems emerge which can help you get organised and track performance in different ways. I’ve helped clients set up and integrate four systems in particular, so I’ll take you through them.
A simple-to-use but highly capable OKR system that is easy to pick up given its intuitive and simple user interface. European-based with a very helpful support team.
- Visual linking of OKRs to show their relationships from business, through to team and individual levels
- Clean and simple UX make it easy to learn
- Vast array of integrations which allow OKRs to be linked to other systems like your CRM so they are dynamically updated
- Good balance of pricing -vs- functionality makes it good value for those early to OKRs and those who are more advanced
- Roll-up of progress within individual & team OKRs to show impact on business level ones
- Feedback can only be given against specific OKRs but not in general against organisational values (due for release by October 2017)
- Can’t currently keep a record of more general check-ins around personal growth that could have a positive impact on a persons ability to hit their OKRs, like skills and behavioural development (due for release by October 2017)
Verdict – a versatile OKR system that it easy to use and can scale with your business
Originally launched as an engagement app that runs pulse surveys and provides functions for feedback and recognition. Recently issued their first release of their OKR management function.
- Very easy to use
- Great visual linking of child to parent OKRs, showing which objectives impact strategic goals
- Good to have the other “human” elements of performance management (feedback and recognition) as system functions
- Can’t just get OKR management without the other functions so could be seen as expensive
- No prioritisation of objectives possible yet, but that’s coming I’m told
- No roll up of scores from child OKRs to parent OKRs, but that’s also on the way
Verdict – A great place to start if you’re embarking on your OKR journey.
This has been a performance management app from the start, but with recognition and feedback functions too. While still having a well-designed and clear user interface, it is more comprehensive than 15Five currently, meaning it has more functionality. This also means it takes a little longer to learn, but if you already have OKRs in play, this could give you the headroom to scale up.
- Clean and clear user interface
- Will roll up results from child to parent OKRs so you can easily see how strategic goals are progressing
- Maintains the cycle of performance conversations with agendas and records
- Prompts check ins for objectives and upcoming conversations
- Can prioritise OKRs
- Because it’s richer in functionality, it will take you longer to learn
- No pulse survey function, but coming in 2017
Verdict – A great option if you’re already comfortable with OKRs and want to step up a gear as your own business grows in size and complexity.
Designed as an app to help drive team performance, MyObjectives will feel instantly familiar to those who know and love scorecards. It takes score carding a step up, through its customisation options which allow you to define and measure the non-financials. It’s also differentiated by its “gamified” design which calculates points for forecasted and actual achievement (and awards badges when milestones are reached).
- Its “gamification” has motivational value if used in a business with the right cultural fit
- Hugely customisable
- Dashboard function provides a visual summary of current position
- Has the ability to prioritise OKRs
- The scorecard structure won’t appeal to all
- Doesn’t cover the “human” aspects of performance management like feedback and recognition
- Its customisation can be its undoing as it can feel like there is too much choice
Verdict – if you just want a system to help you manage OKRs, then MyObjectives will do the trick.
I’m a big believer in not adapting the way you work to fit with a system, rather it should be the other way around or else the tail really is wagging the dog. However, until you have the budget to design your own, these three systems make good starting points for getting a grip on OKRs and performance management.
OKRs represent a performance management methodology which connects the work of individual employees to your company’s overall strategy. Looking to learn more? Read our blog ‘What are OKRS and how can they help my business?’