In an ever-growing tech industry, there is enormous pressure to constantly improve product quality, market speed, and user satisfaction. The competition is fierce, and the market offer is sometimes overwhelming, so tech leaders should always do their best to stay ahead of the game and drive innovation and high performance within their organizations.
Adopting an OKR (Objective and Key Results) based model is a great way to set clear objectives with measurable outcomes that drive performance and maximize your engineering department’s potential. A management tool such as Waydev that provides clear data about your teams’ activity, processes, and deployment process is key to tracking your OKR progress over time. Using our comprehensive reports and all-in-one dashboards gives you a bird’s eye view of your engineering teams’ performance, productivity, and roadblocks without any manual input.
Software engineering OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) is a methodology that entails aligning what software developers do to a specific purpose and outcome. These items also help you track progress, drive team engagement, create a strong alignment with the company’s larger goals and strategy, and ensure a place where engineers work with purpose, enhancing performance and productivity.
The OKR system was born in the ’70s at Intel, an engineering-led company, by then-CEO Andrew Grove. He later summarized his findings in the 1983 book called “High Output Management,” where he talked about the importance of efficient operations and processes to reach high performance in a management system. This book is considered a staple in the management world in any industry, but it can be successfully applied to the software development field as well.
As the name says, OKRs have two main components – objectives and key results, and they depend on one another.
In short, OKRs are the initiatives your teams focus on at a given time, while KPIs measure the important aspects that happen over time. Here is a breakdown of the main differences between OKRs and KPIs:
There are some similarities between organizational goals and OKRs in that they both talk about desired outcomes and results. But we also have some fundamental differences that set these two concepts apart. Here is a breakdown of the main characteristics of goals compared to OKRs:
When setting OKRs for your engineering teams, the process should consider different opinions, be clear and transparent to everyone involved, and be tracked over time. Here is a breakdown of what steps to check on your list of setting engineering OKRs:
When setting OKRs for your engineering teams, it’s essential to first know what your broader organizational goals, vision, and mission are. This way, you can make sure to align those specific objectives and desired outcomes with the direction your company wants to follow. Doing so will make the stakeholders more receptive to your set objectives, and it will facilitate engineering teams to make a direct contribution to the company’s success.
Setting clear objectives for your current project is an essential step toward applying the OKR framework successfully. Identify what you want to achieve with these points and what are the desired outcomes within the engineering teams. Keep in mind that objectives should be ambitious and difficult to inspire team progress but still attainable. Focus on specific areas you want to improve and set clear objectives, expressed clearly.
Now that you’ve set your objectives, it’s time to establish milestones that show you whether you’ve reached your outcomes or not. These are metrics that should be clear, measurable, quantifiable, and with a specific time frame to be checked on your list.
Ask engineers or engineering managers what they feel should happen or change in order to improve performance and productivity. Make a list of these suggestions and decide what are the key points to progress your objectives toward the desired outcomes. Engineering team members often have the best input on their struggles and roadblocks that hinder production.
Once you’ve established clear objectives and their specific key results metrics, it’s time to make them known to everyone involved, such as engineers, engineering managers, and stakeholders. This will make points easier to follow, make the process and desired outcomes clear to everyone, and it encourages alignment and accountability. Transparency also drives collaboration and better communication, promoting a healthier work environment for everyone.
Setting OKRs and making them transparent for everyone is one thing, but keeping track over time and constantly adapting them is what will ensure your success. Use key results metrics to measure progress over time and understand if objectives are being met or if you need adjustments to get back on the right track. Address challenges and roadblocks and try to do better over time.
Once your OKRs model is working properly, don’t let your guard down, but rather keep tracking and optimizing it over time. Encouraging a culture of continuous improvement in any framework or workflow, you adopt is what ensures constant organizational progress. You can do this at the end of the OKR project – draw a line, see what worked, what needed improvement, the overall results and outcomes, and how they aligned to the initial set objectives. Use this comprehensive evaluation and the lessons learned to improve your OKR setting model for next time.
By now, we’ve got the theoretical part down, but how about some concrete examples of OKRs that apply to the software development environment? Setting clear objectives for improving productivity and key results as a counterpart to measure them being met is crucial to applying the engineering OKR model successfully. Here are some examples of OKRs:
Measuring OKRs is just as important as setting them properly – there’s no point in establishing perfect objectives if no one keeps track of whether they are met over time. Assessing them also means following the progress of your objectives and key results and how they align with the bigger picture of your organizational goals, vision, and mission. Here are some specific guidelines on how to measure your engineering OKRs:
Waydev can provide valuable insight into your engineering teams’ practices and delivery processes, making it easier to identify roadblocks and improvement areas. This can give you a clear direction to focus on for continuous improvement and facilitate tracking progress over time by comparing with previously collected data.