An endless number of volumes has been written on the subject of human resource management, describing a variety of theories, approaches and models for making employees motivated and focused on a company’s strategic objectives. Every single business could choose its own way of planning and achieving business goals, but in reality we see that many companies tend to use Objectives and Key results (OKR) framework. 

According to Peoplebox, this framework has been successfully run by Google, Intel, LinkedIn, and Amazon, and it’s natural that many companies want to follow their example. Moreover, Google actively sells its own productivity software to help companies make their corporate planning digitalized and easier to manage.

And when a market giant does something, numerous startups arise to engage in fierce competition. That’s why OKR startups are on a tear today. Just look at these insane rates of annual recurring revenue for the top startups. TechCrunch reports that Gtmhub has grown by 300% in 2020, WorkBoard over 100%, and Ally.io by 330% in 2021. 

So, a plan to build your own OKR product is likely to become profitable. Developing error-free software, creating engaging design, and running a promotional campaign may seem to be everything you need to achieve success. However, developing and selling OKR software is in fact unexpectedly complicated, and the JatApp team will explain to you why.

 

People and culture come first

Objectives and Key Results framework is not just a set of practices and measures to plan corporate strategy. It’s a culture, we would say. Where does this culture stem from? 

The OKR framework was invented by Peter Drucker in 1954 when he created a management by objectives model. Later on, Andrew Grove, Intel cofounder, and John Doer elaborated on management by objectives to present Objectives and Key Results framework in a form we use it today. 

 

Objectives and Key Results

 

To understand how the OKR framework works, we need to break it down into Objectives and Key Results. In such a way, Objectives are the directions that a company takes to fulfill its mission and vision. Objectives don’t imply being measured, as it’s something a company strives for during a long time, if not its entire life cycle. 

As for Key Results, they are measurable outcomes that are necessary for the company to meet the Objectives. Key Results should include a start and end values in order to observe a progress towards achievement of the Objectives.  

On a side note, we need to mention Initiatives. Initiatives are tasks that a company needs to perform for attaining the Key Results. Overall, Objectives are the direction, Key Results are the signs of progress, and Initiatives are the actions necessary for Key Results achievement. 

 

OKR

 

Objectives and Key Results framework has to be a part of organizational culture, otherwise it’s really difficult to convince every single employee to use the OKR tools just because the top managers decided so. 

And that’s where many businesses step on a rake. Implementing OKR software doesn’t guarantee any business that employees will automatically share a relatable culture. As a result, companies don’t get the benefits of OKR software they expect to get. 

Once you decide to build your own OKR tool, you should consider education and coaching of your B2B customers as a part of your product package. Promoting OKR culture with your corporate clients should be the core of your business. Thus, we need to stop by and discuss that matter in detail. 

Break a client’s illusions about OKR software

We’ve discovered that many businesses fail to make good use of OKR software because of having no appropriate culture shared by their employees. Instead, human resource managers and top executives believe that lines of code and nice icons will effectively promote a habit of aligning job activities with the company’s business. In fact, there are several reasons why companies misuse OKR software so badly: 

  • Lack of well-defined goals. Companies tend to adopt OKR tools due to the fear of missing out a trend rather than addressing real problems they would like to tackle with this kind of software. That is why you need to ask your customers about their reasons to implement your OKR product, and if they can’t clearly name any, help them to identify these goals. Perhaps, they don’t need your solution at all. The company’s managers need to say what feels odd in their company and then adopt OKR.
  • Absence of process “ownership”. When a company decides to use the OKR concept, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the solution will sell its perks to the employees. Implementing an OKR solution means a significant change inside the organization, and changes are usually stressful for people. When managers overlook this issue, OKR software becomes a frustrating burden for the whole company. In this case, your task is to make your corporate clients OKR ambassadors who can confidently advocate for OKR culture in their organizations.  
  • Belief that OKR software will control the stuff. Well, an attempt to control other people is not good in the first place. Still, top managers may think that they delegate this dirty work to a cold senseless machine for the greater good. Therefore, you need to convince such customers that the popularity of OKR software isn’t inspired by the Matrix movie or sci-fi novels. Tyranny, even by means of digital instruments, won’t do any good after all. 
  • Hoping that employees will align their performance as soon as OKR is adopted. Again, asking employees to enter their goals and tasks in OKR software won’t make teams aligned with the company’s strategy, but managers often believe that the OKR process can work such magic. You need to clearly explain this nuance, otherwise you’ll have these customers returned angry and dissatisfied with your product.  
  • Trying to build OKR culture after the relatable software solution is adopted. Hoping that OKR software will promote a relatable culture and the whole organization will catch up with the changes on the go is a way that will lead a client’s business nowhere. You just need to keep telling your clients that culture and people are the priority. Software comes next, after the company has established favorable environments for the solution’s effective use.  

Make coaching and training a part of your service

Since we’ve found out that your customers are likely to have a false perception of OKR software, you need to provide them with training and education. As soon as your B2B clients are aware of how important OKR culture is, they’ll be able to use your OKR product properly. There are major areas to address: 

  • Getting prepared. As we’ve already said, help your clients to decide whether they need OKR at all and what problems they would like to solve with adopting your solution. You’ll need to train several OKR ambassadors who will take charge of promoting OKR culture and educating their colleagues, thereby making the OKR framework naturally spread within the client’s company.
  • Setting a proper timeline. A classical approach to OKR management means that quarterly and annual reviews are just enough to keep a track of a company’s progress. Anyway, we would like to say that you can help your clients set a review schedule individually, depending on a company and problems they want to manage with the help of your digital solution. 
  • Determining the ultimate goal. Every single company has its own mission and vision statement, but adopting OKR culture requires these statements to mean something for real. For that reason, many companies that practice OKR, substitute mission and vision for some kind of “the ultimate goal” that creates a solid ground for defining Objectives and Key Results. You need to help your clients with transforming their mission and vision into “the ultimate goal” to make further practice of OKR more effective.
  • Defining a company’s OKRs. As soon as preparations are made and the ultimate goal is in place, it’s time to set Objectives and Key Results at a company’s level. We recommend training your client to implement OKRs for all levels, as they will have to specify goals for every single team inside the company.
  • Defining team and individual OKRs. At team and personal levels, your client is expected to set OKRs on their own, but if they have any problems, you have to come for help right away. 

Well, we’re done explaining why and how you need to prioritize the client’s corporate culture to make your OKR product succeed. But you don’t want your solution to be boring and useless at the same time. So, it’s time to discuss what features a good OKR software should include. 

Learn from the market leaders

Regardless of OKR software you want to develop (pure-play or as a part of a human resource management system), it’s critical to learn from the industry leaders. They can provide you with the right direction for your own product, and you’ll be able to jump into competition with a solution that will secure its piece of the market. 

Gtmhub is probably the most ambitious market player, which is why it can be an authoritative role model for your OKR tool. Also, we’ve chosen Gtmhub as an example because it offers all OKR software features necessary for taking a corporate OKR culture to the next level:

  • Whiteboard. First of all, your solution must include a canvas for OKR planning. Users need to have a bird-eye view of the ultimate goal and team-level OKRs to orchestrate the corporate planning. Additionally, a user should be able to add Objectives, Key Results, and describe Initiatives for each team or even individual employee. 

Whiteboard

  • OKR brainstorming. Defining OKRs isn’t an easy task. Your users will need to have an ability to brainstorm the ideas and compare them for deciding what Objectives are the most relevant to the company’s ultimate goal. Setting metrics, assigning responsible workers, and adding instructive notes are also a must for this feature. 

OKR brainstorming

  • Alignment tool. When all OKRs are defined, it’s critical to align them with each other. This feature simply needs to help users map out all OKRs and build a visible hierarchy. All employees need to see how their personal tasks relate to the team’s OKRs and how the team contributes to the corporate-level Objectives and Key Results

Alignment tool

  • Home page/dashboard. This feature doesn’t really require any explanation, but we would like to mention that OKR homescreen should involve such functionality as to-do lists, current OKRs, and a simple dashboard with a brief progress description. 

Dashboard

  • Key Results progress update. This feature has to provide users with comprehensive information and analytics about how well they’re doing with achieving Key Results. Try to make these data visual and appealing to enable your users to understand whether they’ve made any progress. 

Key results progress update

  • Reports. It’s also essential to gather relatable OKR data within a single report. Team leaders will be able to assess the performance of their subordinates and present the results to top managers. Make sure that your solution includes a possibility to filter and sort the reports list according to different parameters such as time frame, team, and so on. 

Reports

  • Insights data. You can advance your OKR solution with robust analytics boards that provide detailed company-level reports. Of course, your product should be able to visualize these insights to create an extra value to the corporate users. 

Insights

The above mentioned features are just an example of an OKR software your customers are likely to value. Nevertheless, you may consider developing an OKR product for some specific industry or type of organizations. You’re free to adjust the OKR framework to specific needs of your target industry, but the product features we’ve described should still be at the core of your product.  

And now it’s time to care about code and design

We’d like to emphasize that coaching and preparing your clients for adopting OKR culture should come first and only then they may count on adopting OKR software that will be effective.

As soon as you’re absolutely sure that you are able to include OKR coaching and training in your product package, development of OKR software can start. At this point, you’ll need a professional team of skilled software developers who can deliver you a bugless and well-designed OKR solution. 

JatApp develops software products for human resource management and recruitment. We specialize in building OKR solutions that not only simplify goal setting and objectives tracking, but also help companies master the OKR framework and amplify its benefits. 

If you’re ready to start working on your Objectives and Key Results software, contact us. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.