OKR Product Management: The Only Comprehensive Guide You Need

Product Management
December 1, 2022
5 mins read
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Product management is a continuous process. Product managers constantly receive new feature requests from customers and stakeholders. They also have to manage the hassle of organizing and aligning the teams.

Put simply, 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 product management OKRs (Objectives-and Key-Results) come into the picture. 

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

Here’s a detailed guide to OKR in product management and examples of this framework.

What Are OKRs in Product Management? 

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.

OKR for product management is meant for setting up the devised strategy & goals for a fixed timeframe for an organization or a team. They 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 various product management OKRs in their product management lifecycle to maintain agility and achieve results within a set time. 

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

Why Do You Need OKRs? 

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

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

These questions ensure the necessity of OKRs in your product management lifecycle. Imagine the flexibility and agility in your product development when you answer these questions. 

OKRs offer 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 are unique 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. OKR product management offers other additional benefits as well: 

1. Better Collaboration 

When organizations prioritize and assign outcome-focused objectives, they must be armed with diverse ideas and skills. OKRs help everyone understand the demands of each objective and the importance of their outcomes.

This results in qualitative collaboration among the team members through different phases of product management.

2. Creates Sharper Focus 

Product teams and cross-functional departments are responsible for achieving a goal with desirable outcomes, which requires sharpened focus. OKRs define those goals and outcomes 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.

3. Improves Agility

One of the most important things to understand is that OKRs allow for greater agility and flexibility in SaaS product management. Individuals or teams pursuing a goal can always edit their predefined strategy, and the outcomes can be revised at any time.

Product Management OKR Examples

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

Here are some of the best OKR product management examples:

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%. 

The above OKR examples in product management show 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?

How to Write Good OKRs for Product Management?

If the above OKR examples in product management signify anything, it is that they are much more than just a chart. It plays a significant part in shaping the company's overall performance and follows a process.

The utility of OKR product management depends a lot on how you conceive them. Let’s take a look at the best ways to write a good OKR for your product management strategy. 

1. Understand Your Product 

Product management OKRs are 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 — “OKRs are particularly well suited to Product planning, as Objectives correlate directly to the problem area a team is focused on, while the Key Results represent the progress that can be made against that problem over a given time period.”

2. Set Up the Ambitious OKRs

Your OKRs in product management 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.

Here are some ambitious product management OKR examples:

  • Decrease the page load time from 4.62s to 500ms.
  • Publish two new content pieces per week on each platform for the next six months.

3. Write an Action Plan

Once you have set up the OKRs for your product management process, the teams should create an actionable plan that urges them to complete the objectives and achieve the key results. 

Each team has individual responsibilities in 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.

4. Limit Your OKRs 

It is always a good idea to limit your OKRs in product management to four or five. OKRs should focus on quality instead of quantity. 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 customer behavior and not add many features to your product roadmap. 

5. Don't Confuse Tasks With OKRs

One of the reasons many teams get overwhelmed with OKRs product management is that they count the OKRs as tasks. Your OKRs are not part of your to-do list. For instance, the responsibilities of a product manager are 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 whereas tasks are activity based. 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 product management OKRs, it's critical to track relevant metrics for each key result of an objective regularly. You can analyze the individual critical results of an objective and track progress weekly, quarterly, or monthly.

Many teams prefer tracking OKRs quarterly as it is deemed as an appropriate duration where you can actually see the impact of your value-based actions.

For efficient measurement, 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.

You can create a grading system ranging from 0.0 to 1.0 to track OKR performance. 

An OKR score between 0.6 and 0.7 is a success for most teams. At the same time, a 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 successful execution of an OKR strategy depends on various things as they are value-based goals. For instance, in the above OKR product management example of reducing load speed, it depends on the size of the team, present tasks at hand, and the rate of progress.

This makes tracking of OKRs difficult which demands a dedicated tool. The challenge with that is product management teams already use too many of them and adding one more will just slow the overall process down.

This is where Zeda.io can be of immense help. It is a super app for product teams that enables them to run and manage all the processes from ideation to usage tracking from one place. It allows you to track your OKRs easily since all the relevant data is in one place.

You can integrate all your measuring and tracking tools to create customized dashboards in Zeda.io which will get you started in minutes.

The Difference Between Objectives and Key Results 

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

The aligned objective is a valuable business 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 for product management. They cascade down from the company OKRs to the team OKRs and further to individual OKRs. 

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 establish a better product management culture.

With tools like Zeda.io, you can effectively set goals, track results, and achieve valuable outcomes for your products. It’s the complete toolkit you need to efficiently manage your product lifecycle from A-Z.

Start your free trial today.

FAQs

  1. What is OKR in product management?

OKR’s definition in product management refers to the path taken by the team that helps them define goals and create quantifiable outcomes.

  1. What are good OKRs for product managers?

Engagement, release management, and product design are the three important and good areas for setting product management OKRs.

  1. What is an OKR vs KPI?

OKRs are value-based goals that are problem-oriented whereas KPIs are measurable parameters that inform you whether you have achieved the said goals.

  1. What are good examples of OKRs?

OKRs have to be ambitious so that the team challenges itself. For example, reducing the number of incoming support tickets in a week from 200 to 10 is a good OKR example for product management.

  1. Is OKR an agile method?

OKRs facilitate agility as they motivate the team to find innovative solutions to critical problems to achieve ambitious goals.

  1. What are OKRs in agile?

OKRs in agile are qualitative objectives with high business value that are measured periodically.

  1. Is Google still using OKRs?

Yes. Google’s product managers adopt a problem-oriented approach to deliver value to their customers which is one of the foundations of using OKRs.

  1. How do you measure product management success?

The success of your product management process can be measured by the efficiency with which you reach your OKRs. For instance, if you meet the goal but use a lot more resources than presumed, then your processes need more refinement.

  1. How do you write a product in OKR?

You can explain your product through OKRs by isolating the problem(s) it solves and attaching measurable parameters to it that will indicate when they are solved.

  1. What comes first OKR or roadmap?

OKR comes before roadmaps. Roadmaps are created after specific ideas are validated with data but OKRs are needed before the ideation phase.

Jacob Koshy
Product Marketer at Zeda.io
A marketer in love with SaaS products. When away from work, I'm either spending time with my cats or adding miles on my motorcycle.
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