How Do You Find the Right OKR Software for You?

We show you the differences in OKR software and explain how you can make the right choice for yourselves.

Table of contents
  1. Why do you need an OKR software?
  2. What should an OKR software be able to do?
  3. What solutions are there for depicting OKRs?
  4. 4 questions to choose the right OKR software
  5. Bottom Line

Every company that works with the OKR framework will sooner or later face the question of where the Objectives & Key Results should be managed. Finding the right "digital home" is a key success factor in anchoring OKRs in everyday life and keeping the focus on goals during the OKR cycle. The solutions range from simple Excel sheets to specialized OKR tools, which were specifically developed for the management of OKRs.

In this article, our guest author and OKR specialist Korbinian Riedl provides some food for thought and experiences to help you find the right solution for you.

Why do you need an OKR software?

One of the main challenges in introducing OKR is integrating OKR into day-to-day operations. Only then do the formulated goals remain in focus during the quarter and can form the basis for communication and collaboration.

Organizations that fail to establish the OKR process in everyday life benefit only to a small extent from the OKR method. A clearly defined "digital home", where check-ins and updates are recorded, is therefore indispensable for working with Objectives & Key Results.

What should an OKR software be able to do?

Although it is essential to have a toolthe requirements for an OKR software are not that high. In theory, you could even depict and maintain OKRs in a very small team in an analog way, which of course no one (hopefully!) does today!

The basic idea is to document the OKRs, map dependencies and make them transparent at all times. You can also set successful goals with the OKR method, and check how the goals are doing.

A fairly simple solution for this is, for example, a Google Sheet like this one:

okr-software1.png

Source: Google Sheets

Of course, choosing a simple solution also involves compromising, which you should be aware of. It requires, for example, a lot more discipline and consistency to manage OKRs in a simple sheet. In larger organizations, things quickly become unclear and a lot of energy has to be invested just to have a clean documentation. Other solutions with check-in functions, notifications and a better overview can therefore certainly provide added value.

What solutions are there for depicting OKRs?

There are numerous possibilities to depict OKRs and many new solutions are still coming onto the market. In the long term, it therefore makes sense to look at the different categories of OKR software rather than delve into individual software.

A good way to distinguish between the categories "Basic", "Allround" and "Specific" is possible.

Basic OKR Tools

These tools meet the minimum requirements to transparently depict and update OKRs. However, they do not provide support in the OKR process and are particularly suitable for small organizations and for companies that are just introducing OKRs, and want to gain experience before deciding on a tool.

The most common examples of Basic OKR tools are:

Allround OKR Tools

The Allround tools category includes solutions that were not primarily developed for depicting OKRs, but meet the requirements better than the Basic tools. Often these tools are already present and established in companies, so OKRs can be depicted where one already works in daily life.

Some tools from this category have even developed their own OKR modules, or allow special OKR functions to be used via add-ons.

Some solutions from the Allround category include:

Here is an example of a simple OKR structure in Confluence:

OKR-software2.png

Source: Confluence

Specific OKR Tools

The Specific OKR Tools category includes all the tools that were specifically developed for managing OKRs. Accordingly, they offer functions that are tailored to the OKR framework.

With the increasing spread of OKRs, a colorful tool landscape has developed over the last few years and some of the tools are now trying to create added value beyond OKRs.

This category includes solutions like for example:

4 questions to choose the right OKR software

Which tool category and which tool is right for an organization depends on various factors. The following sheds light on the most important factors that should be considered when selecting an OKR software.

Which tool fits my OKR framework?

One of the most important aspects when choosing the "digital home" of the OKRs is to find a tool that also fits the wayOKRs are used in the organization.

It should be noted that the OKR framework is not uniformly defined and that certain tools may be more suitable than others depending on which interpretation is followed.

If the framework and tool do not match, at worst a lot of confusion can arise in the organization.

A typical example:

When introducing, you agree to avoid binary Key Results and always define clear measurability. However, some of the "Specific OKR Tools" explicitly offer the option of "binary" when defining KRs.

This is of course initially confusing for users and does not lead to a uniform understanding of OKRs in the organization.

So, you should carefully consider which tool fits best with how OKRs should be used in the organization.

How many employees work with OKRs?

Another aspect that plays a role here is the size of the organization or how many employees work with OKRs. The more OKR sets there are, the more important is a clear framework. Here, especially the "Basic solutions" reach their limits.

Moreover, the effort of introducing a tool increases with the number of employees and one should be very sure that a new tool really provides added value.

Which tools are already being used?

As mentioned at the beginning, the OKR framework is quite modest in terms of its requirement for a tool. The crux of the matter is integrating the framework into everyday life.

For this reason, the existing tool landscape should also be taken into account and checked whether the OKRs cannot be integrated where you are already working today.

Many companies, for example, use tools like Confluence or Asana, which are also excellent for depicting OKRs.

In other companies, on the other hand, hardly any special tools are used and collaboration still runs via email. Then you should rather look among the "Allround solutions" and think about whether you can find a solution that not only brings advantages for OKRs, but also other advantages for collaboration.

The third scenario is an organization that uses a separate tool for everything and feels very comfortable in this environment. If you then decide on a special OKR software, you should also include the connectivity to existing tools via API, so that the OKR tool can be seamlessly integrated.

How tool-affine is the organization?

Last but not least, the choice of the right tool is also a question of culture.

Where email is still the dominant coordination instrument, the introduction of a "Specific OKR Tool" is probably not the right way.

Other organizations, on the other hand, feel completely comfortable in a sophisticated tool landscape where everything has its place and a dedicated OKR tool is a logical consequence of the introduction of OKRs.

Bottom Line

When choosing an OKR software, you should ask yourself exactly which solution fits the organization and your own "OKR style". The OKR framework is interpreted quite differently in parts and depending on the source or provider there are larger or smaller variations.

As with any tool decision, it is important to first be clear about what you are looking for, and then to search the market for the right solution with a clear idea. Then the appropriate solution can become an important success driver for the introduction of OKRs and the integration into everyday life.

Korbinian Riedl
Author
Korbinian Riedl

Mit Murakamy arbeitet Korbinian daran, einen ganzheitlichen Ansatz der Führung & Steuerung in Unternehmen zu etablieren, der zu mehr Klarheit und zu weniger Stress und Überforderung in Organisationen führen soll. Korbinian verantwortet neben der OKR Ausbildung, dem OKR-Seminar und dem OKR-Online-Kurs auch die Online-Aktivitäten von Murakamy und liebt es, neue Wege zu finden, Menschen von ganzheitlicher Führung zu begeistern.

All Articles of Korbinian Riedl

Product categories mentioned in the article

Join the OMR Reviews community to not miss any news and specials around the software seeking landscape.