Guide to OKRs in Product Management

Product Management
September 16, 2022
5 mins read
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Product managers are never short of work. They are constantly receiving new feature requests from customers and stakeholders. Product managers also have to manage the hassle of organizing and aligning the teams. And even after all this, the pursuit of product success is an endless loop. 

Well, the struggles of product managers are a never-ending cycle. Product managers require a strategy, goal setting, and results tracking throughout the process, from conception to deployment.

That's where the OKRs (Objectives-and Key-Results) come into the picture. 

OKRs in Product Management help set up the right objectives that align with the company's goals. It also helps with progress tracking and improvements that your team has made. 

In this blog, we will be sharing a detailed guide to OKRs in product management and the examples of this framework. 

What Are OKRs in Product Management? 

Guide to OKRs in Product Management
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In product management, OKRs are a path that takes the product management team from defining the product goal to creating quantifiable outcomes. It ensures that items on a product roadmap can be checked off.
OKRs are meant for setting up the devised strategy & goals for a fixed timeframe for an organization or a team. 
OKRs provide a system for determining how well the objectives were performed at the end of this time period.
Companies like Intel, Google, and LinkedIn have incorporated the OKRs in their product management lifecycle to maintain agility and achieve results within a set time. 

Following the growing popularity and the success rates, smaller organizations use precise OKRs to become more agile and align their scattershot efforts. 


Why Do You Need OKRs? 

You need to answer these three questions to find out why OKRs matter so much for product management:

  • Do you have objectives and goals during the product roadmap? 
  • Is your team focusing too much on one strategy and de-prioritizing another? 
  • Does your team lack agility & alignment and have conflict working on one system?

These questions can govern the use of OKRs in a product management lifecycle. Imagine the flexibility and agility in your product development when you answer these questions. 

OKR is a flexible approach that provides a detailed view of each objective and key strategy. And these results are always in numbers.

It's also worth noting that the key outcomes aren't always the same for different objectives and goals.

Overall, OKRs are fantastic for deciding what teams should plan ahead of time and what they should know if they want to achieve better results.

OKRs in product management offer other additional benefits as well. These are: 


Better Collaboration 

When organizations are prioritized and assigned with outcome-focused objectives, they must be armed with diverse ideas and skills. Or they need a cross-functional organization between different teams.


Creates Sharper Focus 

Product teams and cross-functional departments are held responsible for achieving a goal with desirable outcomes, it tends to sharpen focus. OKRs define a company's direction so that everyone in the organization understands its vision.

As a result, product managers can divide the objectives into quarterly, monthly, or yearly periods and set goals accordingly.


Agility

One of the most important things to understand is that OKRs allow for greater agility and flexibility in product management. Individuals or teams pursuing a goal do not have a predefined strategy, and the outcomes can be revised at any time.


Examples of OKRs (Objectives-and-Key-Results)

OKRs aren't just specific to product management but can also be adopted in company-wide objectives. 

Here are some of the best examples of OKRs for different product teams:

Objective: To Understand User Needs and Desires

Key Result 1: Create a survey of 200 users.

Key Result 2: Gather data from help desk requests. 

Key Result 3: Create new use cases


Objective: Create a User-friendly Interface

Key Result 1: Reduce bounce rate by x%

Key Result 2: Increase customer engagement by y%

Key Result 3: Increase subscription rate by z%


Objective: Solve User's Problem 

Key Result 1: Increase the resources and knowledge bases

Key Result 2: Increase chatbot response time by 0.5 seconds. 

Key Result 3: Decrease the help desk tickets by x%


Objective: Create Better Team Collaboration

Key Result 1: Team updates take less time. 

Key Result 2: Set meeting agendas in advance. 

Key Result 3: Average satisfaction rate should increase to x%. 


Therefore, it's evident that the objectives are concise and ambitious, whereas the key results are measurable, oriented, and focused on the outcomes. 

However, a product team needs a well-devised strategy to plan the objectives and achieve the key results. 

So, how do you lay out an OKR for your product management? Read along. 

How to Write Good OKRs for Product Management? 

Guide to OKRs in Product Management
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OKR is more than just a chart. It plays a significant part in shaping the company's overall performance and follows a process. 

Here are the best ways to write a good OKR for your product management strategy. 

Understand Your Product 

OKRs are not just for the later stage. It is the first thing that you should write when planning a product. When defining objectives and outcomes, it is critical to understand the purpose of your product, the problems it will solve, and how you will achieve the goals.

As Ganon Hall, the Product lead at Google Maps, explains. A product team can use the problems and pain points to set up objectives and use the key results in the form of KPIs to assess product planning better. 

Set Up the Ambitious OKRs

Your OKRs must be ambitious and challenging at the same time. It should be practical but challenging enough to stretch out the teams beyond their capacity. If you find your team hitting 100% of your objectives, you have set up enough targets or stretched your team's capacity. 

Write an Action Plan 

Once you have set up the OKRs, the teams should create an actionable plan that urges them to complete the objectives and achieve the key results. Each team has individual responsibilities by setting up the process, and these objectives can further be broken down into small chunks of targets. This way, team members can work on completing the milestones together and ensure that everybody can get to work. 

Limit Your OKRs 

Setting up too many objectives or goals together won't do any good. It is always a good idea to limit your OKRs to four or five. OKRs should not be quantity-focused but quality-focused. Rather than building a checklist of OKRs for your team, ask: "What outcomes do we expect in a quarter?" 

Remember that product OKRs should be written to change the customer behavior and not add many features to your product roadmap. 

Don't Confuse Tasks With OKRs.

The reason why most organizations are overwhelmed with the OKRs is that they count the tasks as OKRs. Your OKRs are not part of your to-do list. For instance, the role of a product manager is always different from their objectives and goals.  Thus, the first thing to understand is the difference between the tasks and the OKRs. OKRs are value-based tasks and not activity-based tasks. 

Simply completing the activity-based milestones doesn't guarantee long-term success or failure for your team.

In short, the key results that you want to achieve should be measurable outcomes that also measure the organization's value delivery.

How to Track OKRs? 

Once you've created and laid out your team's OKRs, it's critical to track each key result of an objective regularly. You can analyze the individual critical results of an objective and track progress weekly, quarterly, or monthly. You can use either the spreadsheet or a more in-depth & feature-rich OKR tracking tool.

The problem with traditional and outdated spreadsheet tracking is that the process is tedious and requires a lot of manual intervention. Thus, an OKR tool such as Zeda.io can help keep track of each assigned OKR during product management.

As mentioned, the key results should be measurable. As a result, the OKRs should be graded or assigned a percentage value. The best method is to grade the critical outcomes of an objective first and then take the average of these results into account.

This allows product managers to see which objectives are on track and need to be tweaked. Alternatively, you can create a grading system ranging from 0.0 to 1.0 to track OKR performance. The critical thing to remember here is that your OKR grade should not be too high or low. If the OKR for an objective is 1.0, it is likely that the objectives were not set high enough or that the key results were insufficient.

An OKR score between 0.6 and 0.7 is a success for most teams. At the same time, the lower score may be considered a failure or over-ambitious goals, which isn't always a bad thing. It could be a chance to re-calibrate the goals and stretch the team's capacity.

The Difference Between Objectives and Key Results 

OKRs for Product Management
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Product managers often get confused in figuring out the difference between the aligned objectives and the key results.

So specifically, the aligned objective is a different goal, whereas the key result is to measure that you have reached the goal.

Objectives: Objectives are memorable, qualitative, and short descriptions of what you want to achieve. Objectives may change at each stage of the product journey and hence needs to pose a challenge to the team. Most importantly, the objectives must be time-bound. 

Key Results:  Key results are the metrics that measure if the objectives have been achieved. A single purpose may have 3-5 key results. 

Even with those differences, the objectives may affect the key results. Hence, your OKRs need to be:

  • Streamlined and straightforward for your product teams. 
  • Time-bound to pose a challenge. 
  • Measurable but only have 3-4 metrics. 

Cascading the OKRs

Most organizations follow the concept of cascading OKRs. They cascade down from the company OKRs to the team OKRs and further to individual OKRs. 

So this means that the OKRs for each level are connected to the previous level. 

Here is a better example: 

  • Company OKRs refer to high-level focus that is most prioritized. 
  • Team OKRs are a priority for individual teams and should not be limited to individuals.
  • Individual OKRs are for individuals only and may be independent of the company. However, it may have an impact on the team's OKRs.

Final Thoughts

The idea behind the OKRs is to focus on daily improvement and bring more agility to the system. Therefore, the OKR process is more of a journey than an event. 

The teams may stumble initially and feel uncomfortable. But you can always track the progress and refine the OKRs throughout the product cycle. 

OKR is more of a regular loop that businesses establish for specific timelines.

Setting goals that encourage collaboration, communication, and engagement will establishment a better product management culture.

With tools like Zeda.io, you can effectively set goals, track results, and achieve valuable outcomes for your organization. 

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