OKRs are a fantastic tool for aligning your Engineering team against common goals. At PipelineDeals, we use OKRs at a teamwide level to hit the following objectives:
If you’re the manager of an engineering team, you might find teamwide OKRs a great way to focus on what it means to be a team.
OKR stands for objectives and key results.
The objective is the high level goal or achievement to work toward. It should feel ambitious and slightly uncomfortable. It will be a stretch to get there.
Objective: Improve our company’s technical brand.
The objective itself is qualitative in nature. It could be something company-wide. A football team might have an objective of “win the Super Bowl”.
The key results are the SMART, quantifiable evidence that the objective was achieved. For each objective, identify 3 to 5 ways that you will measure your progress towards achievement. For the objective above, some key results might be
OKRs are meant to be stretch goals. You should look at the list of key results and think, “wow, this is going to be really difficult to hit all these!” If you feel that way, then your OKRs are probably at the correct difficulty level.
In fact, you’re not supposed to meet all of the key results. If you do meet all of them, then that means they were a little too easy, and next time around you should make them a bit harder.
Strive to achieve about 70% of the key results.
You should define your team’s OKRs with a specific time frame in mind. Quarterly is a good start, but you can even define weekly OKRs for more fine-grained goals.
At the end of the period, do a retrospective on the goals you hit and missed, and give a score for each.
You’ll want to evaluate progress towards your OKRs at a regular interval. At PipelineDeals we have weekly checkins as a team, to ensure we’re making progress towards our goals.
It’s important to keep in mind that key results are not tasks that need to be performed. Key results are the things that happen after those tasks are performed.
Because Key results are not tasks, keep a list of tasks that need to be accomplished in order to see the key results.
Key results are not tasks. They are something that happened because of tasks you accomplished against the objective.
Objective: Increase engineering velocity
Because key results are not tasks, list and identify any tasks that need to be one outside of the key results list.
Key results need to be carefully considered, because you need to be able to measure them. If you cannot measure your key results, it will be very hard to track them going forward.
At PipelineDeals, we use team-level OKRs to explore new tech, enhance our cultural goals, as well as execute on any company-wide goals that have cascaded down to the team.
Team OKRs are a great way to start exploring new tech, and making informed decisions about where to steer the ship, from a technical perspective.
Objective: We need our frontend to be faster, easier to maintain, and less buggy
Team OKRs are also a fantastic tool to help define and keep focus on your cultural goals as an engineering team. At PipelineDeals, we strive to have our engineers reach out to the community and teach, as well as learn. Beacuse of that, have an ongoing objective:
Objective: Make PipelineDeals a force within the tech community
Each quarter, we think of new objectives for the team. These objectives are relevant to where we are at currently. For instance, at the moment we are taking a hard look at front end. So, one of the objectives for next quarter might be the following:
Team-level OKRs are a great place to also put your cultural objectives as well. If you want your team to be a pillar of the tech community, then placing team-wide objectives on learning, community and culture all belong at this level.
Use team-level OKRs to define your cultural goals, e.g. the “What we do here”.
If there are company-wide OKRs that are applicable to the Engineering team, we will ensure those KRs become Os for our team.
As an example:
Objective: Boost revenue this quarter.
The one key result that is very relevant to Engineering is the first one, so that would become an objective for our team:
Objective: Ship the Triggers & Automation project in early April
OKRs are a fantastic way of aligning your team to shared, timely goals, provided they are used effectively. When setting up new OKRs for your team, care must be taken to ensure that you do not mix tasks with key results. Key results should be measurable, timeboxed, and quantifiable.
You can use teamwide goals for a variety of purposes that help further the shared goals of your team. These can be cultural goals, goals for exploring new tech, or sprinting towards a major project deadline.