The Limitations of Free Goal Tracking Software – What You Need to Know

(Why Free Goal Tracking Fails)

In a TED Talk last year titled, “Why the Secret to Success is Setting the Right Goals,” John Doerr relates how Andy Grove of Intel described his new strategy execution protocol, OKRs:

He shows a video clip of Andy Groves speaking, “The two key phrases of the Management by Objectives system are Objectives and Key Results. And they match the two purposes, the Objective is the direction, the Key Result has to be the measurable, but at the end you’ve got to look, and without any argument, say, did I do that, or did I not do that? Yes, no, simple.”

Doerr recaps by saying, “yes, no, simple.” Objectives and Key Results, or OKRs, are a simple goal-setting system.

Many companies new to the OKR process, mistake its simple design and language as being easy to execute. Set a few goals, with accompanying Key Results, and measure performance. Such a simple process you could execute it via Excel or Google Spreadsheets, no.

This article will detail the limitations of using free goal tracking software, why this approach often fails, and why using a spreadsheet system and email versus dedicated OKR software is a disaster in the making!

Spreadsheets Don’t Help You Set Effective OKRs

Free goal tracking software won’t educate you or your people, or help you implement your initial OKRs. However, a best in class OKR Software provider will. A good SaaS solution partner will provide a Customer Success Manager who is there to facilitate the onboarding process and help you every step of the way to launch your implementation successfully.

Beware the Administrative Issues

What if an individual or team doesn’t update their spreadsheet on a timely basis. Who will be responsible for compliance? Who will chase down the non-performers? In a dedicated, cloud-based OKR software execution Automated Prompts encourage employees to complete their regularly scheduled Check-Ins. And, the best OKR software executions include Engagement Reports to provide the OKR lead person with information relative to Check-In compliance.

In a spreadsheet execution, we can also assure you employees will inadvertently delete data, erase cells or make other mistakes. How will you discern when this has occurred and who will spend the time and expend the effort to correct the misinformation?

Difficulty in Aligning OKRs in Spreadsheets

Alignment is one of the most significant features of the Objectives and Key Results methodology. How does one align goals in a spreadsheet system? How will you cascade one goal to another? How will spreadsheet design highlight cross-dependencies and encourage teamwork and collaboration?

Once again, a sophisticated, well-designed OKR software will include Goal Alignment Charts. These charts allow you to view the goal hierarchy of your OKRs. They ensure the organization’s top priorities cascade to departments and teams.

Frequency of Goal Setting

Another key benefit of OKRs is agility. Objectives are set quarterly, and Check-Ins are conducted regularly. This cadence and frequency of feedback are crucial for real-time learning, course-correction, and improvements to the subsequent quarter’s goals. Who has the time in an organization to collect, assess, and disseminate updates to management from spreadsheets?

A more robust, dedicated OKR software platform will include Standard and Customized Reporting, such as a Monday Morning Report for senior leadership. These reports allow executives to monitor progress, quickly, painlessly, and on a single pane of glass. For an “at risk” Key Result, the executive can drill down through departments, teams, and even to the individual contributor level.

A Lack of Engagement, (Conversations, Feedback, and Recognition) in Spreadsheets

You probably read in Doerr’s, “Measure What Matters,” where he states that CFRs are the logical adjunct to OKRs and provide the “human voice” to the methodology. How will the Conversations and Feedback be communicated in real-time to enable course corrections, and how will Recognition be addressed in a spreadsheet system?

As previously mentioned, Automated Prompts and Engagement Reports are used in an OKR software platform. The transparency enabled by the software also aids in acknowledging outstanding performances for Recognition purposes.

Do you really want to devote hour upon hour of senseless, cumbersome, and arduous effort to administration? We believe this is the antithesis of focusing on what matters. We have anecdotal and statistical data from our customers who started OKRs in Excel or Spreadsheets and failed. Once they moved to a dedicated OKR platform, they realized the execution success they were seeking.

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!


Image Credit: Luca Bravo on Unsplash







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