Objectives & Key Results (OKR)

Align your business outcome objectives with upcoming deliverables and the backlog of work using OKRs.

Apptio Targetprocess’ OKR support is designed to connect your Enterprise OKRs with the experiments and enhancements you have identified or are implementing in product or solution development. Create your Objectives with related Key Results at multiple levels in your organisation and connect them to work items (like Epics or Features) and Scrum Sprint Goals or SAFe PI Objectives so you can easily see the activities or initiatives that are planned or in-progress to achieve the Key Results and ultimately accomplish your Objectives.

What are Agile Objectives & Key Results?

Let’s do a quick recap on what OKRs are and how they can help your enterprise achieve Business Agility.

OKR (Objectives and Key Results) is a goal system. It is a simple tool to create alignment and engagement around measurable goals.
Creating alignment in the organization is one of the main OKR benefits. The goal is to ensure everyone is going in the same direction (focus), with clear priorities (clarity & transparency), in a constant rhythm (cadence).

As the name suggests, an OKR consists of two parts 1) the Objective and 2) a set of related Key Results.

In Targetprocess we support three levels of Objectives: Ultimate, Strategic and Tactical. The names of these levels can be renamed to suit your terminology. We advise to not cascade OKRs and to use the levels only for alignment over different time spans and scope.

Support three levels of OKR with Targetprocess
Support three levels of OKR with Targetprocess

Creating OKRs

When creating an OKR you can use the following sentence to help you create a good OKR: We strive to <Objective> as measured by< this set of Key Results>.

Objectives are memorable qualitative descriptions of what you want to achieve. Objectives should be short, inspirational and engaging. An Objective should motivate and challenge.

“If you have to stop to breathe while reading your Objective, it’s not a good objective”
-Felipe Castro

Key Results are a set of metrics that measure your progress towards the Objective. For each Objective, you should have a set of 2 to 5 Key Results.

“If it does not have a number, it is not a Key Result”
-Marissa Mayer

“Key Results must be results”
-Christina Wodtke

Having a set of Key Results including countermeasures to drive the right behavior helps create a clear, and sustainable OKR.

So we have the Objective and the Key Result to measure our success, but how are we going to link it to the actual work that we are doing? This work (which should be seen as experiments or bets, see: “Hypothesis-Driven Development”) that we do in order to try and achieve our objective(s) should be made transparent.

Without Targetprocess, you would need something like an Initiative or Activity description to keep record or track of them, but in Targetprocess we can use our regular Epics, Features and User Stories and Bugs for this. Thus we have Objectives, Key Results and related Work Items.

Example OKR

A tactical objective might be: We strive to “Be recognized to have an awesome Customer Experience.”

This sounds great, but how would you know if the experience is awesome? Remember, without measurements you don’t have a goal. That is why we need Key Results.

How can we measure if we are providing an awesome customer experience? Net Promoter Score and Repurchase Rate would be two good options. Do our customers feel so good about dealing with us that they would recommend us and buy again?

But measuring NPS and repeat purchases alone can send the wrong message. It might encourage us to make the customer happy at any cost. Therefore, we should include a countermeasure metric such as Customer Acquisition Cost. We want to make our customers happy while keeping the related costs under control.

The complete OKR:

Objective: We strive to “Be recognized to have an awesome Customer Experience.”

Key Results: as measured by:

  • Improve Net Promoter Score from X to Y.
  • Increase Repurchase Rate from X to Y.
  • Keep average Customer Acquisition cost under Y.

Combining Goal Systems

In Targetprocess we support different goal systems and they can exist next to each other. We have 1) OKRs (Strategic and Tactical OKRs) and 2) Scrum Sprint Goals and maybe SAFe PI Objectives. Instead of choosing one above the other we can connect them so they work together.

The OKR Goal system is to set aspirational business goals that we measure with Key Results. Good key results measure outcomes! An outcome is something that we can measure using an indicator but can’t change directly by doing something. We can, however, try to influence them by doing (small & safe) experiments.

“At Google and Bing, only about 10% to 20% of experiments generate positive results.”
– Felipe Castro

Connect OKRs to Work Items in Apptio Targetprocess
Connect OKRs to Work Items in Apptio Targetprocess

The Scrum Sprint Goals and SAFe PI Objectives systems are there to set realistic goals to align teams (or team-of-teams) on delivering something together. Because they span only a short time period and are directly related to the work we do, they are usually output based. (We created and/or delivered something or we didn’t).

Going back to the OKR example of being recognized to have an awesome Customer Experience, we could imagine one team wants to improve performance and another team wants to optimize views for use on mobile devices, So they create “Views load in 2 seconds or less” & “Views are optimized for mobile device usage” as Team PI Objectives in order to focus on delivering this work, which might help achieve one or more of the Key Results of the OKR.

As updating the views for mobile devices might be an incremental job, the team might deliver this Team PI Objective in several increments using several Sprint Goals like “Optimize views for display in mobile Safari (iPhone)” and “Optimize views for display in mobile Chrome (Android devices)” etc…

Apptio Targetprocess OKRs to Goals & Objectives
Connect OKRs to Work Items and Scrum Iteration Goals & SAFe PI Objectives

Key Features of Apptio Targetprocess’ OKR Solution

OKR Hierarchy Levels

Our OKR solution allows you to create OKRs at several levels in your organization like Ultimate, Strategic or Tactical or you can rename them to something like Mission, Company and Team. This allows you to easily see how OKRs of different levels and spanning different periods are linked together and are a stepping stone on the way to success!

Linking Objectives to Work Items

Maximize OKR transparency by linking your OKRs to the related activities or initiatives represented as work items (like Epics or Features). This helps with both the top-down and bottom-up views. It helps development teams focus on the intended outcomes and understand how they are measured while giving stakeholders insights into the related upcoming solution enhancements or additions.

Report on OKR Status and Progress Overview

Use Targetprocess’ reporting and dashboarding functionalities to create clear overviews on the status and progress of your Objectives and Key Results. You don’t need a license or logged-in user for those who need to see the dashboards.

Apptio Targetprocess OKR Iteration Goals
Have a transparent view on Iteration Goals with parent PI objective and parent OKR

OKRs Combined with SAFe PI Objectives and Scrum Sprint Goals

OKR is a goal setting system targeting improved business outcomes. In Scrum and SAFe there are other more output oriented goal systems like Sprint Goals and PI Objectives. In Targetprocess you can optionally link them together to maximize transparency and get the benefits of both.

Request a demo and see how Apptio Targetprocess can help you accurately plan, track, and forecast investments for agile or hybrid delivery.

Additional Resources