It’s easy to fall into the trap of performing mundane tasks just to get them done, especially if you’re not familiar or connected with your company’s strategic direction.
That’s where the objectives and key results (OKR) methodology can help you align your project management team — along with external and internal stakeholders — and boost employee engagement and productivity. The OKR framework can also promote transparency between team members and leaders and propel your company toward its goals.
With that in mind, this article will discuss:
- What project management OKRs are
- Why OKRs are useful for short-term projects
- How OKRs and project management can work together
- Three examples of project management OKRs
What are OKRs in project management?
OKRs help project management teams achieve success by showing them how smaller tasks contribute to the bigger picture, as opposed to being stand-alone activities. Ensuring employees view their responsibilities as contributions to a strategic goal also helps keep them from losing motivation and questioning the point of the project they’re working on.
Unlike key performance indicators (KPIs), which only help project managers track the progress of deliverables and output, OKRs let you measure outcomes and focus on the why behind initiatives — as opposed to only the what.
For example, let’s consider a SaaS company tasked with releasing a new software solution. If they opted for a more traditional approach to project management, the manager would deem the initiative successful if the developers released the software solution fully and on time.
However, combining the OKR framework with the above approach would make the software solution’s release more of a puzzle piece that contributes to larger organizational objectives — like achieving a 20% profit margin — rather than the sole aim.
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Learn more about what OKRs are in our comprehensive guide.
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Why use OKRs for short-term projects
OKRs are typically seen as more suitable for long-term plans since the framework is set up to help you achieve stretch goals and shoot for objectives that are ambitious, aspirational, and maybe even slightly out of reach.
However, the methodology can also be highly beneficial for short-term projects. Aside from making goal-setting more clear and actionable, OKRs help connect smaller initiatives to bigger-picture company goals that contribute to the organization’s overall success. That means you can still focus on the wider company vision while completing short-term projects and tasks.
For example, if you’re working on rolling out a set of new processes across various departments, your short-term OKR could be to achieve a 90% adoption rate. This goal could then feed into your company’s long-term objective of increasing productivity across teams by 20%.
The OKR framework is also designed to increase productivity and focus, and improve transparency. So by using OKRs for short-term projects, you can align employees around a shared vision and help them understand their role in a broader context.
🧐 Keep your people focused on the why, not just the what
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Why should you combine OKRs with project management?
Integrating OKRs with project management can align your team with stakeholders while driving productivity. Some additional benefits include:
- Boosting employee engagement and satisfaction — OKRs can help your people understand how their day-to-day responsibilities contribute to accomplishing larger goals, which can lend value to tasks that might otherwise seem dull or uninspiring. This makes work more meaningful and enhances employee satisfaction.
- Improving focus — Since the goal of project management is often tracking output, implementing OKRs can prevent teams from losing sight of the overarching company vision and overall desired outcome.
- Enhancing productivity and motivation — Getting everyone on the same page and establishing a clear path forward can positively impact overall productivity. That’s because employees are more engaged when they know what they need to do to succeed.
“The [OKR] approach helps our team conceptualize the overall picture and goals while allowing us to break them down into smaller tasks. Strategically, team members can focus on smaller priorities to improve productivity… In the end, the system ensures everyone feels like part of the team and tracks equal contributions within the organization.”
— Randi Mays, Project Development Manager at Oii.ai
- Measuring progress holistically — While KPIs evaluate how effectively your company performs an activity, OKRs are guided by objectives that stem from your overarching company mission. That means using OKRs in project management helps you get a more well-rounded view of business success.
- Getting stakeholder buy-in — Having transparent OKRs in place makes it easier to justify budget allocations and financial decisions to stakeholders. They explain the why behind different projects and show how they fit into larger initiatives. This way, all parties involved know there’s solid logic and reasoning underpinning everything you do.
- Facilitating collaboration — Recording objectives and sharing them with your colleagues while implementing OKRs helps promote cooperation and foster a culture of continuous feedback. Your people can also run check-ins and frequent meetings to discuss their progress.
🤫 Curious about organizing successful OKR check-ins? Our comprehensive guide to running OKR review meetings has you covered!
3 OKR examples for project managers
There’s no one size fits all solution to OKR planning, but here are three examples for project managers to help you get started. Treat these cases as stepping stones rather than rigid instructions, and check out our guide with 25 great OKR examples for each company department for more inspiration.
Example 1: Increased client satisfaction
Objective: Turn customers into product advocates
Key Result 1: Achieve a customer satisfaction score (CSAT) of at least 90% by the end of the quarter.
Key Result 2: Increase the number of positive online reviews by 25% by the end of the quarter.
Key Result 3: Reduce customer churn rate by 10% by the end of the quarter.
Key Result 4: Increase the number of referrals by 20% by the end of the quarter.
Example 2: Improve project delivery rate
Objective: Increase project delivery to [X]% to retain current clients
Key result 1: Reduce the average time to complete a project by 15% by the end of the quarter.
Key Result 2: Increase the percentage of projects completed on time and on budget by at least 20% by the end of the quarter.
Key Result 3: Implement a project management tool or system to track project progress and identify issues in real-time, with at least 80% adoption rate from the project team, by the end of the quarter.
Example 3: Enhanced productivity
Objective: Our delivery teams operate efficiently and productively
Key result 1: Increase the number of tasks completed per team member by 15% by the end of the quarter.
Key Result 2: Implement a performance tracking system to measure and reward individual and team productivity, with at least 90% adoption rate from the delivery team, by the end of the quarter.
Key Result 3: Develop and implement a training program to improve technical skills and knowledge of the delivery team, with at least 80% participation rate, by the end of the quarter.
Use Leapsome to set & track project management OKRs
OKRs are a management and goal-setting framework that breaks down ambitious objectives into more manageable chunks to show individuals the steps they need to take to work toward their targets. And when paired with project management practices, this framework can help teams create a robust strategy, drive alignment and transparency, and boost engagement. However, converting your project management objectives into tangible steps can be tricky.
Leapsome’s Goals and OKR Management Software lets you seamlessly integrate goals into your daily workflow and stay focused on strategic business outcomes while completing short-term projects. Our all-in-one people enablement platform keeps your goals front and center, providing you with progress updates, powerful visual analytics dashboards, and check-in reminders.
Finally, you can integrate your OKRs with 1:1 and team meetings as well as performance reviews to build a culture of continuous feedback and development that boosts productivity and drives growth. This way, you can set your company up for more sustainable, long-term growth and success.
💪 Maintain alignment and transparency with Leapsome
Our software supports leaders in creating, tracking, and collaborating on big-picture and short-term objectives.
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