In business, the term OKR refers to Objectives and Key Results, which is a system used to measure and track progress. The beauty of using an OKR framework is that it can be applied to any organization, no matter the size or industry.

It’s been used by some of the biggest companies in the world, including Spotify, Airbnb, and Twitter. 

In Google’s first year of existence, for instance, the company instituted OKR goal setting after a pitch from early investor John Doerr and now credits the system with much of its corporate success. They still use it today, even as their workforce has grown to more than 140,000 employees. 

product roadmap, on the other hand, is a high-level view of the planned development of a product over time. It’s typically created by the product owner or manager and shared with stakeholders to ensure that everyone is aligned on the goals and vision for the product. 

The main difference between OKRs and a product roadmap is that OKRs are used to measure progress towards specific objectives, while a product roadmap is used to communicate the plans for the future development of a product.

So, how does an OKR framework fit into a roadmap? 

In this article, we will explain: 

  • What OKRs are
  • The benefits of using an OKR framework
  • How to use OKRs in your product roadmap

Ready? Let’s get started!

What does OKR mean?

The OKR system was first popularized by Intel in the 1970s as a way to measure progress and objectives within the company. The term OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results. 

  • An Objective is a specific, measurable goal that an organization or individual wants to achieve. 
  • Key Results are the metrics used to track whether or not an objective has been met. 

OKRs can be used at both the organizational and individual levels. For example, a company might have an objective to increase sales by 10% in the next quarter. The key results for this objective could be things like increasing the number of new customers, growing average order value, or improving customer retention rates. 

At the individual level, an employee might have an objective to launch a new product by the end of the year. Their key results could be things like developing a prototype, conducting user research, or securing funding. 

OKRs can be applied to any area of an organization, from sales and marketing to product development and human resources.

What are the advantages of OKR?

The biggest thing to remember with OKRs is that they are flexible. No matter what type of company you have or what industry you’re in, Objectives and Key Results can be adapted to work for you. They also come with these key benefits:

  • They force you to think big: With OKRs, you can’t set small, incremental goals. You have to think about what you want to achieve in the long term and then work backward from there. This way of thinking can challenge your team and help you come up with new ideas that you wouldn’t have thought of before.
  • They keep everyone aligned: It’s easy for teams to get caught up in their silos and work on things that aren’t aligned with the company’s overall goals. With OKRs, everyone is working towards the same objectives, so there’s no room for misalignment.
  • They help you track progress: Measuring progress is essential for any goal, but it can be difficult to do if you don’t have a system in place. With OKRs, you can track your progress and see whether or not you’re on track to achieve your objectives.
  • They’re easy to adjust: If you find that your team is struggling to achieve a certain objective, you can always adjust the Key Results associated with it. This way, you can make sure that your team is always working on something achievable and relevant.

Still not clear on what an objective is, or how to set it? Let’s take a closer look.

Example of an objective

Let’s say that you have launched a website for your business, but the traffic isn’t growing as quickly as you were hoping for. Your objective might be to increase website traffic by 25% over the next 3 months.

Notice how this objective is specific, measurable, and time-bound. It’s also important to note that this objective should be something that your team can reasonably achieve in the given time frame. 

If you’re not sure whether or not your objective meets these criteria, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Is it specific? 
  • Is it measurable? 
  • Is it time-bound? 
  • Is it achievable? 
  • Is it relevant?

If you can answer “yes” to all of these questions, then you have yourself a well-crafted objective! Next would be setting your key results. These might be:

  • To increase page visits from 1,000 to 1,500 over the next month.
  • To double the conversion rate within 6 weeks
  • To write and publish 2 blog posts per week on site

Again, each key result should be specific, measurable, and time-bound. They should also be ambitious yet achievable. 

And that’s it. Once you have your objectives and key results set, you can start working towards them. Remember to keep track of your progress and adjust your objectives and key results as needed.

How to implement OKR in your product roadmap

While some people may think that the OKR framework and product roadmaps are interchangeable, they aren’t. 

A roadmap is a product planning tool that is used to communicate the plans for the future development of a product, while OKRs are a system used to measure and track progress towards specific objectives.

That being said, it is possible, and even advisable to use the OKR framework within your product roadmap. Here’s how:

  • Define your company’s overall objectives and key results.
  • Create milestones for each objective and key result.
  • Assign responsibility for each milestone to a team member.
  • Create a timeline for each objective and key result.
  • Track progress and revise objectives and key results as needed.

Two heads are better than one – and in this case, two methodologies layered on top of each other can produce the same result. Using a roadmap offers countless advantages over the OKR framework on its own:

  • You can see the big picture 
  • You can easily make changes if necessary
  • The team understands the timeline
  • You can have immediate feedback from the team if anything goes wrong 
  • You can track time and budget
  • You can track progress

Some advanced product roadmap software even has features like Kanban boards, Sprint boards, or even Mind Maps that can help visualize team goals. 

Conclusion

Combining OKR with a roadmap can help any organization, small or large, to better measure and track progress. Make sure you are clear on the objectives and key results you want to achieve, how you are going to monitor and track them, and then use a product roadmap to help you develop a plan to get there.