As enticing as the title may be, we first need to establish the best goal setting and tracking methodology. In our book, as it is in John Doerr’s New York Times bestseller, “Measure What Matters,” that methodology is OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). Doerr and we are not alone in this opinion. Paul R. Niven and Ben Lamorte, two prominent strategy consultants, concur in their bestseller, “Objectives and Key Results: Driving Focus, Alignment, and Engagement with OKRs.”
If that isn’t sufficiently convincing, consider that OKRs has been the goal setting protocol used by such industry stalwarts as Google, Intel, Linked In, Amazon, and a myriad of others. To quote Doerr, “OKRs are the modern, collaborative goal-setting protocol for companies, teams, and individuals, a management methodology to help ensure the company focuses their efforts on the same important issues throughout the organization.”
Now that we have your attention let’s turn to the tool required to optimize and implement the OKR methodology at scale, Goal Tracking Software, or OKR Software. In this article, we’ll discuss the components featured in the very best, cloud-based Goal Tracking Software available today.
The Functions of OKR Software
Although we talk about focus, alignment, engagement, collaboration, conversations, and feedback in OKRs, not every OKR Software provider approaches the methodology with the same priorities. First there are OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). A good definition would be:
Objectives (Os), WHAT is to be achieved. Objectives are significant, concrete and action-oriented. They represent the desired direction of the organization. And then, there are Key Results (KRs), which benchmark and monitor HOW we get to the Objective. Key Results tend to be specific and measurable, similar in many ways to a KPI.
Next, there are CFRs (Conversations, Feedback, and Recognition), said to give OKRs their “human voice.” This is the engagement part of the protocol that features regularly scheduled Check-Ins, One-on-Ones, two-way feedback, and recognition of performance.
OKR Software providers utilize both parts of the model; however, some providers specialize in the CFR mode, using the methodology primarily as a Human Resource or People Operations tool to improve continuous performance management, while other providers focus on the more operational OKR mode to improve strategy execution and business results. You will need to do your due diligence to determine which approach best suits the needs of your organization and your culture.
Features of Effective Goal Tracking Software Platforms
In addition to specialization by OKRs versus CFRs, most software companies also tend to target and customize their offering to fit a specific segment of the market, small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), versus larger enterprise organizations. Regardless of the provider, or their niche, there are certain features a best in class, dedicated, cloud-based, OKR software solution should have.
- First look for a company that brings the entire OKR process into one software system; from goal-setting to alignment, monitoring progress, automated prompts, and the appropriate reporting for managing the entire process.
- Another critical feature is Goal Alignment Charts allowing you to view how your corporate initiatives cascade to your departments and teams. We endorse a blend of top-down and bottom-up planning so you will need a system that verifies department and team OKRs are in support of the company’s strategy.
- Automated Prompts encourage employees to complete their regularly scheduled Check-Ins to monitor progress on time. These brief Check-Ins capture progress towards goal achievement and identify any Key Results “at risk.”
- What good is a system if not used consistently? Engagement Reports provide OKR admins with information relative to Check-In compliance. Are teams and employees completing Check-Ins, and, are managers reading and responding?
- A best in class platform will provide both Standard and Customized Reporting, such as a Monday Morning Reports for senior leadership. These reports allow executives to monitor weekly progress on a single pane of glass. For Objectives “at risk,” the executive can then drill down to the individual contributor level.
- Every OKR Software platform should provide Vertical and Horizontal visibility of goals. This feature provides a line of sight for everyone to see OKRs throughout the organization. Horizontal visibility is required to encourage collaboration and teamwork. This transparency drives higher employee engagement and accountability throughout the organization.
- Top OKR software companies provide a Customer Success Manager to assist in the onboarding process and setting initial top corporate objectives. Other customer support features include employee training, ongoing education, certification classes, and resources such as eBooks, White Papers, Infographics, Webinars, and educational blogs.
We hope this short article has helped you to understand the differences in goal setting software and the essential features you should expect of your provider. Feel free to reach out to us with any further questions at Atiim.com.
Do you manage a company or teams (either as a CEO, a senior executive, or middle manager)? Do you set and track objectives? Does aligning employee performance to business goals matter, and are you responsible for driving results? If so, please check out a live demo of Atiim OKR & Goals Management Software and we’d love to hear what you think about it. Thank you!