OKR example: Software development

Posted by Ivan Osmak
on February 18, 2019

OKRs are simple, but not easy.

The main problem people have when defining their OKRs is switching from an output (what I need to do) to an outcome (what I need to achieve) mindset. This is particularly true in functions such as software development, where releasing features [on time] and fixing bugs has traditionally been the only way to drive and measure performance.

How do we look at software development at Gtmhub?

As with any other function, the fundamental question always is the one of purpose (see What if we fire you all today?).

When thinking about software development (or engineering) teams, one can be easily mistaken when defining its purpose. For example:

  • Create software that solves customers’ problems. – at Gtmhub, this is what Product Management does
  • Create software that customer’s love. – at Gtmhub, this is what Product Marketing does
  • Create software that customers’ buy. – at Gtmhub, this is what Sales team does

So, what is the fundamental purpose of the software development team? In our opinion, it is to build high-quality software in an efficient manner.  What kind of software is almost irrelevant.

The Breakneck Speed OKR

In Q1 2019, the engineering team at Gtmhub has set the OKR called “Breakneck speed”. For this quarter, the team is focusing on increasing the speed at which it operates – using a combination of balancing key results.

Software development OKR
Software development OKR

If you examine the first two key results: Keep it fresh and Feed the machine, you will notice that they oppose each other in their intents. From one side, no item in JIRA should be older than 14 days; while from the other side, there should be 300 story points always in the backlog.

Then we also have the pure velocity increase KR, where the team should deliver on average of 250 story points per week.

Finally, the last key result drives agility and good planning by making sure that the team is not working on one monster story in JIRA, but rather on many, small and digestible stories.

The desired outcome of the software development team

At Gtmhub we see our software engineering team as a great competitive advantage.

The outstanding efficiency of this team allows:

  • the sales team to close more deals – as we can quickly react to the needs of enterprise customers.
  • the product team to react quickly to feedback and place more bets on the future
  • customer success team to serve better more customers, as the common issues get quickly resolved in the product itself

As for the engineering team – in their own view – it is about doing more; faster.