During my career as a product owner I got to know OKRS, a very effective way to set goals and a tool to measure progress. It stands for objective key results and is a tool used by leading companies like: Amazone, Adobe, Facebook and Google.

In this article we will look at what it is and how it can be used by us Product Owners.

What is it?

To go a little bit deeper OKRs are a methodology used to define the future statue, by setting challenging goals using measurable results. It’s about tracking progress, creating transparency to align, and motivate people and teams to act upon its results.

How we use it as product managers / owners

The nice thing about it is that it can be applied in the same way throughout the whole company and it’s different layers. On the product management side these objectives can be used as guidelines to define if the products & features we build are actually adding up to what the organization is aiming for. Even personal goals can be aligned with these objectives.

How it works

Most organizations set 2-3 objectives to remain focused followed with 3 to 5 supporting key results. To make it easier to define them the following statement is used “I will (objective) as measured by (Key results. A bit vague but as an example “I will increase the customer engagement by increasing the time people spend on our app in hours from X to Y”. It needs to be measurable of course!

What are objectives

objectives can be translated into what needs to be achieved. They should be significant, concrete, focused on actions and inspirational ‘if possible’. These objectives can save a lot of wasted time and waste ‘products not used’ simply by understanding that things simply don’t fit. This can drastically increase focus, purpose and with it motivation and the delivery of valuable products.

How about key results?

Key results are used as a measurement tool. Let’s say you want to increase customer satisfaction. One of the annoyances could be that people are not being able to deposit money in an app using certain payment methods e.g. credit card. So we could start measuring the payment success rate. By tracking how much people are succesfully depositing money.

Do you monitor?

We sure do. The nice thing is that as a product owner your still able to define how to make clients happier and add more value. This helped us to actually measure if our solutions had the positive effect. A pretty interesting fact is that more than 50%, from our PO research, said they don’t measure value after developing. Well this truly increases value!

We are all busy so normally these OKRS are being discussed every quarter.

When is it successful?

The objective is simply met when all the key results are met. Over time it could be that these objectives stay the same but it’s results increase for example. In the end it’s all about building the best products for your clients.

Where do I start?

Setting an example helps of course. If your organization doesn’t really have them you could simply show your employer how beneficial they are. We introduced business cases too, where the kpi’s were directly related to these objectives. The business case covers the why and what and in combination with OKRS everyone was very enthusiastic, it creates focus, transparency and shows progress.

For the template we normally use click here!

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