How to Pick an App to Manage Your OKRs

Jul 27, 2021

Picking an Application to manage your OKRs is essential for success. In today’s video we will discuss how to choose the right app for your OKRs and your strategic performance.

Non-Negotiables for Managing Strategic Performance

OKRs need to be enabled with an app, but it’s much more than that. Think about picking an app to manage your strategic performance. That’s actually what we’re talking about as it’s much more than just managing OKRs. At OnStrategy we believe that applications support a process. Since we created the OnStrategy Application, we’re a little biased, but by default strategic performance processes create a lot of data and an app helps enable that. Let’s review the cycle:

What is MetricMonday?

Check out our video here.

Typical Strategic Performance Review Cycle

In a typical quarter, to manage strategic performance involves individuals, managers, CEOs, and Boards. Any great application will address all of those needs, and all of those audiences in one set of functionalities. For the process, we set our annual OKRs that we refresh quarterly. We go into months one, two, and three, asking for reporting. The people responsible for reporting are normally individuals, and then also CEOs would like to see some automation of what’s going on. Ideal state is that Monday morning email on performance. Reporting on every month at minimum, automated where possible, and there is always a lot of self-reported data. A great application makes self-reporting easy and fast.

Communicating Strategic Performance

Moving from there, we review our performance in one-on-ones. A great application has a one-click for your one-on-ones that managers are running, and then reviewing that performance in team meetings. Again, it needs to be one click. It can’t be PowerPoint, which is too heavy. Again, that’s where you see the CEO connecting in. We roll that up to a quarterly refresh where we’re presenting our data to the CEO and other managers. And you need to have an easy way to do that. In the OnStrategy application, we built a quarterly refresh dashboard focused on the strategic performance of an organization, specifically against a quarter, by all of these different user levels. From there, we want to communicate the performance to the board and to staff. Again, we want one click, low touch, sent out via email or directly to a live link that gets everybody access to the performance of the organization. And we repeat that again for each quarter. We are able to quickly update our OKRs quarterly if that’s what’s necessary, again flowing into our future state.

Process Enablement of OKR Applications

Keep in mind the fact that a great application supports the process for all of these activities for each of these layers in the organization. So here are a couple of criteria that we want to walk through when determining if you need an application:

  1. Multiple Contributors Reporting Performance: You know you need an application when there are at least 10 or more people that are part of the process.
  2. CEO Commitment: You are a committed CEO, or if you’re helping your CEO, that your CEO is committed to this process.
  3. Process Commitment: Everyone is committed to a process, not just reporting.
  4. Visibility: You know you need an app to gain better visibility across the organization, especially with everybody working remotely right now.
  5. Board Reporting Capabilities: If you need board reporting, that’s another criteria for needing an application.

Options for OKR Applications

There are a lot of great OKR applications on the market. Let’s talk about a couple of them:

  1. SmartSheets/Asana: Smartsheets and Asana do all kinds of things—financial reporting, tasks lists. They’re not going to do specific OKR and strategic performance management and they’re certainly not going to support this process.
  2. OnStrategy: Our application specializes in individual to manager, to CEO, to board strategic performance that happens throughout the whole process. Great looking reports are important too because we believe that strategic performance and strategic planning is about producing information that can be used and digested, and that everybody can be part of.
  3. WorkBoard, Ally, Perdoo, 15Five: Other applications, such as the WorkBoard enterprise-level app, are really meant for large organizations. Ally, Perdoo, 15Five take the approach from the individual. They don’t scale up all the way to the overall strategic performance, however.

Must-Have Features

Lastly, there are a couple features that are table stakes and absolutely part of every application. These including:

  1. Tracking OKRs
  2. Mobile Application
  3. API Functionality
  4. Notifications

Those are just basics for any OKR application. What’s not basic is thinking about process enablement, which is much more than just a set of functionalities.

Hopefully, you’ll find this information helpful when you’re thinking about navigating the landscape of applications to manage your strategic performance.

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