How to use OKRs for product management

by Jenny Bowes | Apr 08, 2021

time icon 3 mins

Product lifecycle management involves monitoring a good as it moves through the different stages of product life. OKRs can assist with this process by boosting the growth of products in the growth phase, and helping to prevent products from entering the decline phase.

Product managers are a creative bunch, always on the lookout for new opportunities to meet user needs. They can then look to fill this need by creating a product that meets the demands of the customer. However it’s not always about creating a product, sometimes it’s about making a current product better by learning and adapting to customer feedback and testing. 

Naturally, due to the focus on fulfilling customer demand, Product managers are working with innovation and change projects. This is where OKRs can really help you to focus in and spotlight in on growth. 

What are OKRs? 

OKRs put simply are Objectives and Key Results. The OKR Framework is a set of practices and principles that helps organisations to focus on growth, change and innovation projects. OKRs help organisations meet their growth goals with identifiable and measurable results. 

When it comes to product management, your OKRs can help you bring your product strategy roadmap to life and give your team the motivation to achieve your organisational goals.

Powerful objective statements can inspire your teams and propel your organisation towards your growth ambitions. Add to these specific measures in your key results your teams will understand what success looks like. 

Why are OKRs useful for product lifecycle management?

Ideally, many business owners would like their product range to grow consistently over time without ever entering the decline phase. That’s where OKRs come in. Incorporating OKRs in your product strategy roadmap can help to propel you through the product launch phase, improve the longevity of your products and achieve consistent growth.

OKRs are not for business as usual 

Many organisations work towards a timeline of product updates, with regular external communications around these updates and what the benefits are. When it comes to things like security fixes, these are more of a business as usual activity, and so activity can be measured via your KPIs rather than OKRs. 

On the other hand, your OKRs should be focused on business growth opportunities, such as:

  • Launching products into new markets
  • Rebranding products
  • New product launches
  • Improving products based on changing user needs

This isn’t to say that you can’t give a KPI an OKR focus if this area of the business needs attention. 

Benefits of OKRs product managers 

Now we know what OKRs are and what they should be used for, but what are the benefits to product managers? Working with OKRs offers multiple benefits, but here are some of the main ones that product managers will be interested in. 

  • Laser focus 

OKRs are all about providing a spotlight on the projects that can create change, innovation or growth. It’s also important not to write too many OKRs, as the key really is a focus. 

  • Cross-functional collaboration 

OKRs work best when run in a cross-functional manner, because ultimately why would you want to limit the creativity and skillsets working on an OKR? Working collaboratively allows your teams to pull together the best insights and ideas and really push on towards meeting the business goal. 

  • Agility 

Having agile teams ensures that projects can be delivered without teams getting sidetracked by internal policies and how things have always been done. OKRs foster an environment of creativity and agility. By empowering your teams you are giving them the opportunity to thrive, try new ideas and really reach for your business growth goals. 

  • Accountability & transparency

OKRs encourage your teams to set their own goals and decide how they are going to achieve them. By offering purpose your teams are likely to buy in the OKR process and really get behind the projects driving growth. The OKR methodology sets out a cadence of regular check-ins and confidence ratings and so ensures that there is greater transparency across teams about both positive results, but also where additional resources may be required. 

OKRs for Product Managers 

You’re ready, you understand the benefits and you want to implement OKRs for product management. Here’s a couple of ideas to help you get started:

  1. Identify and understand market needs 
  2. Design & develop a world-leading platform 
  3. Empower users to troubleshoot and improve your product 

The above provides a couple of starting points, but if you’d like the experts to get involved, book a call with team There Be Giants to find out more about how we can help you reach your growth goals.