Why use OKRs for operations
Operations teams are responsible for creating more efficient processes in an organisation. An operations manager’s job is to effectively prioritise strategic areas for improvement without restricting the flexibility at the core of the role.
OKRs enable operations teams to identify and focus on specific quarterly goals. They help shift the focus on the systems needing the most fine-tuning, exposing inefficiencies and ambiguities.
On a more targeted level, objectives link operations team efforts to an overarching strategy, and key results provide operations teams with useful metrics for productivity and efficiency.
How to write OKRs for operation teams
Step 1. Understand OKRs
When broken down into steps, OKRs are easier to manage. Remember three points: Objectives (O), Key Results (KRs) and projects.
- Objectives: Broad statements that define the direction for the quarter.
- Key Results: Milestones or indicators of success.
- Projects: The tasks that will help you achieve Key Results.
For a more in-depth explanation, see our comprehensive guide to writing OKRs.
Step 2. Pick a captain
Choosing a team captain isn’t limited to high-school sports — OKRs work best when there’s a pilot to help keep the operations team on track.
The OKRs leader should have a good understanding of OKRs and why the framework is valuable. The team captain should be ready to support the team while everyone learns the basics.
Start small — aim for a couple of Objectives for the quarter and ground them with three Key Results each. Encourage weekly check-ins for the best results.
Step 3. Define your Objectives
How do you decide on what your quarterly focus should be? One way is by using the AARRR framework. Five stages are identified in this framework: acquisition, activation, retention, referral and revenue.
- Acquisition: How do customers find us?
- Activation: How do those that find us become customers?
- Retention: How often do customers return?
- Referral: How often do customers refer us?
- Revenues: How much money are we making?
Operations teams will have to dip their fingers into all the honey pots, but revenue may be their main focus.
Step 4. Outline your Key Results
To accompany your Objectives, list Key Results. Good Key Results follow SMART guidelines — they’re specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.
To help you visualise, we’ve created a template for writing SMART Key Results:
- Improve <metric> from X to Y
Remember — Key Results should define the success of your metrics. Once you’ve drafted your metrics, check them against your objectives to test their relevancy.
Step 5. List your projects
Here’s the easy part — think about what you can do to make progress on your Key Results and create a to-do list. This should be as short or long as suits you and your team, but keep in mind that a lengthy list may discourage first-timers.
Here’s a guide to managing your tasks in the Tability app.
Examples of operations OKRs
You may be thinking, “That's a lot of info,” so let's paint a picture. As you write your first OKRs, focus on outcomes and accountability rather than projects. The following examples illustrate that process and reveal what OKRs look like for operations teams.
OKRs examples for process improvement
Process improvement is the bread and butter of operations teams. A process optimisation approach involves examining and improving organisational processes in order to optimise team performance. This ultimately improves the efficiency of the workplace and by proxy, the experience of end-users. Here’s a broad OKRs example to improve team efficiency.
Create a internal system for knowledge sharing
Create 25 internal articles for knowledge sharing
Run 5 internal workshops on better communications or collaboration
Team completed 40 total hours of video courses
OKR examples for sales operations
The role of sales operations is to support and enable sales representatives to sell more effectively and improve overall profitability. Here is an example of an OKR plan for a sales operations manager.
Turn sales into an efficient engine
Reduce Customer Acquistion Costs from $740 to $350
Increase inbound sales by 30%
Reduce the sales cycle from 9 to 3 months
OKR examples for customer operations
Customer operations teams help companies build and implement better customer service strategies and functions. A good example of the quarterly focus and plan for customer operations teams is shown below.
Be known for having legendary support
Improve CSAT from 70% to 85%
Reduce first response time to 1h
Improve average resolution time to be under 5h
Tracking your OKRs
Writing OKRs without tracking is like committing to something but not following through. Keeping track of your OKRs weekly is crucial to success. Weekly check-ins keep operations teams accountable, exposing downward trends and allowing you to correct them.
But check-ins are easier said than done. The whole operations team must be able to implement them easily for them to be effective. While online software isn’t fundamental to OKRs, spreadsheets, formulas and manual updates may make your team resent OKRs.
Introducing Tability — our online OKRs assistant that keeps things simple with built-in check-ins and reminders. Our software automates the OKRs framework, making it easier for your operations team to buy in.
What other operations metrics can you use?
It's time to select the best metrics for your operations team's success. We've compiled the best metrics for operations success that you can use.
You may wish to start with these:
A business’ administrative expenses, such as executive salaries and the cost of running the organisation.
How many customers become repeat customers, and how engaged are they?
Gross profit margin
The amount of money left over after subtracting the cost of goods sold.
A business’ operational expenses, such as the cost of materials and labour.
How well employees adhere to financial, legal and company policies.
How well employees manage their time and complete their tasks.
Quality of work
A team, individual or organisation's performance and output.
Return on advertising
How much money is earned versus spent on marketing and advertising.
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Stop wasting your OKRs. Focus on the right work and accomplish your goals.