24 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Dedicated OKRs Tool
Large organizations including Google and Sears built proprietary systems for defining and tracking OKRs for thousands of employees. But what if you’re not a F500 company? What if you don’t have the internal resources to develop an in-house OKRs solution?
Do you need software for OKRs?
Most OKRs experts, including Kris Duggan, CEO and founder of BetterWorks and Niket Desai of Google conclude that organizations with less than 100 employees are generally fine managing OKRs with existing software platforms such as MS Word/Google Docs, MS Excel/GoogleSpreadsheets, or even PowerPoint.
Identify an internal champion for the OKRs project right from the start. If possible, find an internal champion with prior OKRs experience. Most everyone who works with OKRs eventually feels a need for a robust OKRs solution. I agree with Duggan, who notes, ”…a dedicated OKRs tracking solution becomes helpful with 10 or 20 people, important with 100-200 people, and critical in the 1000+ employee range.”
Let’s play 20 Questions! — OK, make that 24!
This list of 24 questions draws from my discussions with OKRs software vendors and prospective buyers.
- Does the software support both bottoms-up origination of OKRs?
- Can OKRs cross teams to enable horizontal alignment? Must OKRs be connected based on the organization’s reporting structure?
- How easy is it to access and update OKRs?
- Does the system produce a chart displaying how OKRs are connected?
- Can I see a history of how OKRs and the progress on OKRs change over time? For example, does the system use color-coding to quickly visualize performance of OKRs?
- How does the software encourage frequent check-ins to keep goals and progress fresh?
- How easy is it for colleagues to comment on one another’s goals?
- What case studies detail successful the software vendor’s OKRs deployments?
- Does the software agreement specify that all employees must purchase a license?
- Is it possible to update and access OKRs from a mobile device?
- Can I pre-define scoring criteria for Key Results?
- Can I create summary reports for performance review meeting?
- Is there a mechanism that ensures key results are measurable?
- Does the software vendor recommend or provide OKRs coaching or training services?
- Does the software support all types of key results?
- Is there a “draft mode”?
- Does the system support Single Sign On (SSO)?
- Can users pull data in from external systems such as a CRM (e.g. salesforce.com)?
- How easy it is for me to add or remove an employee?
- How does the system keep track of OKRs from prior time periods?
- Can multiple users update progress on a dependent Key Result?
- Do individuals use the tool as a task-management system or just for OKRs?
- What frequency do employees use the tool?
- Can individuals assign a standard status to Key Results or does the software system automatically derive the status?
Most organizations begin their OKRs deployment without a dedicated software tool. Discover your requirements before shopping for OKRs software. Armed with even just a few months of experience with OKRs, you’ll know the questions to ask. Please let me know if this list of questions helps you create your list. If you’ve read this far, please post question #25 here!