Why use OKRs in Product?
Product teams can use OKRs to clearly define the outcomes they want to see at the end of the quarter. This, in turn, will make it much easier for people to pick the projects that will deliver the best impact. When you use OKRs, projects are no longer at the centre of your discussions. Instead, you put more emphasis on the goals, and projects are considered bets that can help you get there.
How to write OKRs for Product teams
Step 1. Understanding OKRs vs. Projects
Before jumping into the OKRs process, it is essential to understand the difference between Objectives, Key Results, and projects:
- Objectives: what do we want to achieve next quarter?
- Key Results: how are we going to measure progress?
- Projects/Initiatives: what are our best bets to get there?
Projects are mentioned here because a common mistake is to list them as Key Results. But a project is a deliverable (output), rather than a goal (outcome).
A good Objective should be inspiring and easy to understand by anyone in your org. You can be more specific in the Key Results, but the Objectives should give a clear idea of the expected impact at the end of the quarter.
A good Key Result should follow the rules of the SMART framework. In particular, it should be relevant to its parent Objective, measurable through the quarter, and time-bound. A good test is to ask, "would we do things differently if this KR goes off-track?". If the answer is negative, then you need to refine your OKR.
Finally, your projects are the things that will move the needle on your Key Results. They're bets that you make with the team. Some will work—double down on it. Some will fail, and it should be okay to stop and move on to the next idea.
Step 2. Pick 2-3 focus areas
The next step is to pick the right focus. One tool that can help here is the AARRR framework which divides your customer's journey into 5 stages:
- Acquisition: how many people find out that you exist?
- Activation: how many of them sign up for your product and become leads?
- Retention: how many leads come back to use your product again?
- Referral: how many users share your product with others?
- Revenues: how many users end up paying for your product?
A Product team mostly looks after 2 things. They make sure that new users can get up & running quickly (Activation), and they make sure that customers find value in the product and keep using it (Retention).
You can use these 2 themes as a starting point for your Objectives, and then derive the corresponding Key Results.
Step 3. Write your plan
Once you've narrowed your focus, you can start writing your OKRs.
Agree on 2-3 Objectives before diving into the Key Results. You'll see some examples below, and here's a guide about writing OKRs if you're just getting started.
Example of Product OKRs
OKRs to achieve Product-Market fit
We have achieved Product-Market fit
Get a 40% score on the Product-Market fit survey
45% of new users are still active after 8 weeks
Get 100 new leads every week
Use this template
OKRs to build a successful MVP
Launch a successful MVP
We have 100 weekly active users
Our NPS score is above 40
We have 5 paid customers
Use this template →
OKRs to build an amazing user experience
Build a great user experience
Improve NPS from 50 to 75
Increase the number of weekly active users from 8k to 10k
Implement the equivalent of 100 feature votes
Use this template →
OKRs to improve self-serve onboarding
Our users can onboard the product with success
70% of leads complete their activation process on day 1
Get 80% satisfaction on onboarding feedback survey
We have 10 tutorials covering core parts of the product
Use this template →
Tracking your OKRs
Knowing how to write good OKRs is critical, but without good tracking in place, the OKRs will fade away and focus will be lost.
It's not just us saying that:
- Peter Kappus writes that "check-ins are the most important part of OKRs".
- Felipe Castro cautions people not to let their OKRs turn into New Year's resolutions.
- Christina Wodtke tells us that "cadence is probably the single most important thing".
The easier it is for a team to have weekly discussions around the OKRs, the better they'll execute.
The check-ins process can be automated with a platform like Tability that takes care of reminders, and distribute updates to the teams.
It is vital that you implement a proper OKRs ritual, otherwise your OKRs won't be much different from having KPIs.
What other Product metrics can you use?
Now that you've got good Objectives, it's time to pick some key results and finding good metrics that work for your team can be tricky. Lucky for you, we've laid out all the best Product success metrics to use.
Here are a few to get you started:
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Product/Market Fit score
The Product/Market Fit survey asks your user how disappointed they would be if your service no longer existed.
Daily/Weekly/Monthly Active Users (DAUs, WAUs, MAUs)
How many people are using your product every day/week/month.
What's the percentage of users that come back to your product every day/week/month.
The opposite of retention. What's the percentage of users that stop using your product.
How many people are recommending your product to their friends or colleague.
How do people interact with your content (it can be anything, from visits to specific sections to conversations in Intercom…)
How many signups turn into active customers.
NPS is seen as a general indicator of happiness for your customers. It measures how likely your users are to recommend your product.
Stop wasting your OKRs. Focus on the right work and accomplish your goals.