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How to Choose the Right OKR Software for your Enterprise

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OKR Software Buyer's guide

How to use this guide

So, you’re looking for a solution to manage your company's OKRs. It’s a big undertaking — and we’re here to help. As you're evaluating options, the right enterprise OKR software platform should: 

  • Support the way you do OKRs
  • Be easy for every person to use and get what they need out of it
  • Help everyone see their contribution and goal commitments in relation to others
  • Make it effortless to facilitate the process across the whole organization
  • Provide flexible deployment options
  • Safeguard the business-sensitive data you enter into it
  • Have a team behind it that provides continuous support

 

Buying software can be challenging, but with the right resources, the decision making process can be a breeze. This guide will help you:  

  • Learn the key factors to keep in mind when procuring an OKR software
  • Save countless hours otherwise spent researching
  • Avoid costly mistakes
  • Be prepared to critically assess product demos
  • Determine what questions to ask Sales teams
  • Prepare yourself for writing an RFI/RFP
  • Be one step closer to selecting a partner for your transformative OKR journey

 

“The function of good software is to make the complex appear to be simple.” — Grady Booch, Chief Scientist for Software Engineering at IBM 

The ins and outs of OKR software

OKR management 

An enterprise OKR platform should be easy-to-use, intuitive, flexible, and work at scale. It should support the OKR framework within its design and features, so that the OKR process runs smoothly, and everyone stays aligned and informed without constant oversight.

 

A few questions to ask:

Does the software support unlimited OKR levels to support your unique organizational capabilities? 

Why is this important? Depending on the size of your organization, you will need different levels of OKRs (e.g. company, department, team, individual, etc.) to build a healthy OKRs environment. 

 

Can the software align multi-year, annual, half-yearly or quarterly OKRs? 

Why is this important? You need to be able to calibrate the speed of execution for different levels in the organization. Senior executives can chart longer-term strategic goals while teams and individuals closer to the day-to-day challenges work towards tactical ones.  

 

Does the software support a full visualization of alignment? 

Why is this important? Full visual OKR hierarchy with flexible grouping (by time period, owner, type, status, etc.) lets you boost alignment and see the big picture.  

 

Does the software come with task management features? 

Why is this important? Tasks are a fundamental component of your OKRs. Objectives and key results represent the goals individuals and teams set for themselves and the concrete plans to accomplish them. Tasks, on the other hand, emblematize the efforts one needs to make to succeed. 

 

Does the software offer KPI tracking? 

Why is this important? KPIs and OKRs go hand-in-hand — KPIs provide you with real-time data available for analysis, more informed decision-making and proof that you’re steering the company in the right direction.    

 

Does the software provide flexibility and customization features?   

Why is this important? While the basic methodology is always more or less the same, the size, stage, industry, and culture of different organizations require the software to adapt to meet unique OKR process needs.

 

Does the software enable team collaboration?  

Why is this important? Features like comments, badges, mentions, emojis, etc. enhance communication, boost workplace happiness and increase productivity.

 

Does the software have a full-featured mobile app? 

Why is this important? Your smartphone can be key to achieving your goals. An OKR mobile app saves you tons of time as you can easily update your OKRs and tasks, monitor progress and communicate with others on the go. 

 

Does the software offer OKR templates? 

Why is this important? Using pre-configured OKRs will help you quick-start your OKRs deployment and avoid losing precious time researching how to come up with proper OKRs.   

 

Are there built-in best practices tooltips that guide you to crafting great OKRs?  

Why is this important? Following tried and tested OKR principles greatly increases your chances of successful OKRs adoption.   

 


 

Automation & data integrations 

The best work is hands-off work. Whatever process you design, someone will forget about it, intentionally skip it, and or even try to quietly sabotage it. OKRs are no different. That’s why the OKR process must be run based on the two key premises: 

  1. Data — understand what’s happening to make solid decisions
  2. Automation — simplify human activities to achieve more with less effort

The OKR software should automatically provide you with data-fueled metrics to complement your strategic priorities and automate repetitive tasks to boost productivity. Automation and data integrations in the OKR software propel businesses to move forward and never lose momentum with their goals. 

 

A few questions to ask:

Does the OKR platform automate repetitive tasks? 

Why is this important? Automation doesn’t just excise repetitive tasks and free up time, but also improves reliability and removes human error from the equation. 

 

Does the platform integrate with other systems to automate OKRs, tasks, and KPIs updates? 

Why is this important? Automating your OKRs, tasks and KPIs to pull out real-time data from other business systems empowers you to reduce time and resources to arrive at critical insights. 

 

Does the OKR platform offer more than 100 out-of-the-box data source integrations?  

Why is this important? The more connectors an OKR platform has, the higher the chance to integrate with your mission-critical business systems and easily track goal progress.  

 

Does your OKR software provide API for integration with existing business applications and workflows? 

Why is this important? To extend and integrate your OKR software with your business systems the vendor needs to provide a fully exposed API. 

 

Can the OKR platform rapidly add new integrations to meet your growing business needs? 

Why is this important? In case your mission-critical business systems are not on the list of available integrations, you need to make sure that the OKR software has the ability to add new custom ones.  

 


 

Reporting and analytics

The OKR software should provide a high-level overview of your OKR performance and show you how effective your organization is at running the OKR process. OKR-related reports illuminate where and what issues have occurred and help you identify performance problems or trends that need further investigation. 

 

A few questions to ask:

Does the software offer real-time progress reports?  

Why is this important? OKR reports reveal how your strategic plan is going and give you a more in-depth look not only into your team’s performance, but also the overall business health. 

 

Can you customize your reports? 

Why is this important? Customizing your reports can make them more informative and contextual for your business, increase clarity and promote transparency. When you’ve chosen the dimensions that make the most sense for your business, you’re able to reach the best possible OKRs decisions. 

 

Can you export data and download reports as CSV or PDF files?  

Why is this important? Downloading OKR reports enables you to easily share data with others and safely store all your weekly, monthly, or quarterly OKRs accomplishments offline. Depending on the size of your organization, you will need different levels of OKRs (e.g. company, department, team, individual, etc.) to build a healthy OKRs environment.

Enterprise-grade security

User management and authentication

The OKR platform should be designed to manage up to millions of users in the most effective and secure way possible. Administrators must be able to easily control user access to the software, on-board and off-board users and dictate a directory service to authenticate, authorize and audit user access. 

 

A few questions to ask:

Does the OKR platform support Single Sign-On (SSO)? 

Why is this important? SSO reduces the number of attack surfaces and improves enterprise security because users only log in once each day and only use one set of credentials. Using SSO is safer than passing around passwords. 

 

Does the OKR software support the most popular SSO integrations? 

Why is this important? You should have a wide choice of identity management tools to log into your OKR software with SSO credentials to best suit your needs.  

 

Does the OKR software offer stronger means of authentication than login & password (e.g., one-time passwords, SMS, two-factor authentication, etc.)? 

Why is this important? Adding an additional layer of security makes it harder for an attacker to access your data.   

 

Does the OKR software support account lockout?  

Why is this important? You should choose an OKR software that automatically locks user accounts in case of consecutive unsuccessful logon attempts. This slows down password-guessing attacks and compensates for fragile passwords. 

 


 

User management and profiles

The OKR software should give you a single point of maintenance to securely manage digital identities and user access to your OKR-related data within your organization. Proper User Management & Profiles eliminate security breaches by minimizing the impact of human error, prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information and allow your security teams to detect risky identity behavior.  

 

A few questions to ask:

Does the software offer an effective User Account Management module?  

Why is this important? Users should be provisioned, reorganized, edited, deprovisioned in bulk to ensure the right people easily have the right access to the organization’s mission-critical systems at the right time. 

 

Can the OKR software be integrated with external enterprise provisioning/deprovisioning tools? 

Why is this important? Delegating the provisioning/deprovisioning process to an external identity management tool improves security as user management and permissions are managed in one place and inappropriate data access to former employees’ accounts is prevented.

 

Does the OKR software allow for disabling user accounts without deleting account information and history? 

Why is this important? Proper disabling of user accounts doesn’t leave former employees’ accounts vulnerable to attack by deactivating profiles in a timely fashion, without losing precious information.  

 


 

Tiering responsibilities and control

Restricting access to the OKR software based on the roles of individuals within an enterprise ensures that employees are only granted the necessary level of access to perform their job. The software should also provide specific access to users (custom roles) – for instance, if you want to ensure that a user can only view Objectives, but not manage, or update them. This is especially important for big companies where third parties could be involved — controlling what end-users can do decreases risks of breaches and data leakages.   

 

A few questions to ask:

Does the OKR software use Role-Based Access Control?  

Why is this important? The OKR software should come with a set of predefined system roles based on several factors, including authorization, responsibilities, and job competency. 

 

Does the OKR software track the change history of user authorizations?  

Why is this important? You should be able to obtain such information for review and audit purposes. 

 


 

Audit logs

Since it’s challenging and time-consuming to keep track of every user activity, Audit logs do it for you – they register every action that users do in the OKR software. Audit logs help companies monitor data, review account activity if and when incidents occur or keep track of suspicious activity.  

 

A few questions to ask:

Does the OKR software offer Audit logs and trails?  

Why is this important? Any activity (like OKR updates) and access to your content should be recorded by the OKR software. This ensures users follow all documented protocols and assists with detecting fraud.  

 

Does the OKR software generate pre-defined audit reports?  

Why is this important? These reports let you save these records indefinitely and provide historical evidence for analysis and security purposes. 

 


 

Data security and compliance

The OKR software holds the most sensitive strategic, tactical, and operational information — data security is of utmost importance. The best way to be sure of the level of security a software vendor provides is to evaluate its security posture and look for rigorous third-party audit processes and certifications. 

 

A few questions to ask:  

Does the OKR software encrypt the data contained in the database?  

Why is this important? Encryption is a crucial security defense through which data is encoded and remains unreachable or hidden from unauthorized users. It protects data confidentiality and enhances security of communication.  

 

Does the OKR software offer protection of client-server exchanges and data transfers to external and backend systems?  

Why is this important? When data passes through the Internet before reaching its destination, you need to make sure that the software vendor provides data traffic protection and takes preventative action against possible attacks.  

 

Have the security controls of the OKR software been audited by a third-party auditor for security? 

Why is this important? The assessment of the OKR software vendor’s policies, procedures and infrastructure by a 3rd party carrying out a penetration test speaks of dedication to ever-evolving security and privacy best practices.  

 

Is the OKR software SOC2 Type II compliant?  

Why is this important? SOC 2 Type II is the industry’s highest and most important security classification for software platforms assessing security controls that are relevant to its operations and compliance. 

 

Is the OKR software GDPR compliant?  

Why is this important? The vendor’s GDPR compliance means that the protection of personal data and privacy of EU citizens is ensured.  It’s critical that your OKR software meets your data residency requirements to ensure compliance with data protection laws. 

 


 

Infrastructure  

Only robust IT infrastructure can handle complexity, adapt quickly to new environments, and ensure business continuity.  

 

A few questions to ask:

Does the software vendor have data centers in more than one location?  

Why is this important? Multiple data centers ensure operational flexibility and data protection in the event of unexpected downtime. 

 

Are the OKR software’s data centers compliant with the most rigorous security standards like ISO (27001 & 22301) and SOC (1 & 2)?  

Why is this important? Compliance with such important security standards prove the software vendor’s commitment to the security of the information it controls and processes, including all client information. 

Implementation & Support

Deployment Options 

Deployment refers to all hosting requirements and procedures that make the software available to end-users. An enterprise-ready OKR platform should offer deployment models in line with its varying clients’ cloud strategy, compliance frameworks and OKR platform requirements.  

 

A few questions to ask:

Does the OKR software support multi-tenant cloud architecture? 

Why is this important? Multi-tenancy is the SaaS (Software as a Service) standard in which the application is fully managed by the OKR software vendor. It allows for a highly scalable, highly efficient deployment, reducing the need for you to manage infrastructure and handle updates and maintenance. 

 

Does the OKR software support single-tenant cloud architecture? 

Why is this important? Single tenancy offers you their own independent database and instance of the software. This is an advantage in highly regulated industries, where handling of highly sensitive data or high levels of network customization and storage infrastructure are needed. 

 

Can the OKR software be deployed on-premise? 

Why is this important? The reasons to require on-premise deployment can differ, but broadly include regulatory compliance, security, and privacy. The OKR Software needs to be fully portable and deployable to your own infrastructure.  

 

Can the OKR software be deployed on a private cloud? 

Why is this important? A private cloud can be located at your enterprise’s own datacenter, or it can be hosted by a third-party cloud provider. Hosting an OKR software on your private cloud can address specific IT requirements, similar to on-premise deployment, but offer faster scalability.  

 


  

SLA & support 

Stellar support and SLA commitments can turn an overall great OKR software into the right one for a modern enterprise. They can de-risk performance concerns for OKR buyers and strengthen the relationship between an OKR software vendor and the buying enterprise. 

 

A few questions to ask:

Does the OKR software offer account-level change management? 

Why is this important? Special users should be able to enable or disable features for individual users depending on policy changes or other changes in access rights or requirements. 

 

Does the OKR software offer at least 99.95% SLA uptime? 

Why is this important? This is a standard uptime guarantee requirement for high-availability software, equating to 5 mins of possible downtime per week. 

 

Does the OKR software offer availability status metrics & historical records? 

Why is this important? In the spirit of transparency, high-availability software vendors provide real-time uptime metrics as well as historical availability, allowing for comparison of availability with SLA. 

 


 

Partnership support 

Providing a great OKR software is often only one part of the success equation. OKRs are deployed in the enterprise’s business orchestration journey at different times, and this means different context and challenges. That’s why highly experienced external partners can be an essential element of the enterprise’s OKR success – from the strategic & conceptual stages to OKR integration and ongoing coaching & support.  

 

A few questions to ask:

Does the OKR vendor offer strategic support from prominent external partners? 

Why is this important? A strategic partner helps with clarity and direction when an enterprise has not yet defined when, where, and how to adopt OKRs or with course correction later. Prominent external consultants with a proven track record make all the difference in strategic decisions and bring out the best of OKRs.  

 

Does the OKR vendor offer implementation support from prominent external partners? 

Why is this important? While the OKR software vendor covers the technical implementation of OKRs, there are other aspects of a successful adoption. An external implementation partner brings experience and know-how in the human aspects of OKR deployment, reinforces clarity in governance and lends a helping hand in change management on the end-user level.  

 

Does the OKR vendor offer ongoing coaching support from prominent external partners? 

Why is this important? Even after a successful rollout, your OKR journey continues on a path to constant improvement and additional scaling. External coaching partners provide ongoing support in ironing out the OKR rituals, adopting best practices and getting the best out of their chosen OKR software. 

 


 

The team for your team: Customer success 

A customer success team is dedicated to supporting successful deployment and ongoing usage of the OKR software platform, as well as giving advice on effective OKR implementation practices. The main purpose of the CS team is to make sure you are utilizing the OKR software in the best way depending on context and be your internal advocate, communicating your feedback and trying to solve your issues in a timely manner.  

 

A few questions to ask:

Does the OKR software vendor have a customer success (CS) team?  

Why is this important? The CS team can assist you with the organizational cultural shift you’ll be undergoing, help you achieve your goals and provide you with useful resources and dedicated support. 

 

Would you have a dedicated customer success manager (CSM)?  

Why is this important? A dedicated CSM provides guidance throughout all stages of the customer journey, jumps on calls, and gets to know you and your needs, which ultimately results in a long-lasting and fruitful partnership, as well as an increased probability of overall program success.  

 

Can the customer success team educate you through effective learning resources of your choice such as webinars, regular consultations and 1:1 demos? 

Why is this important? People have different learning styles, so your flexibility in learning resources is crucial to finding what works best for you. 

 


 

Technical success 

The OKR vendor should have a technical success function to support the customers success team and guide you throughout your OKR software journey — from onboarding through adoption to continued usage of the platform. The technical success team is responsible for the solution implementation and must be able to help you translate your complex business needs into data-backed solution designs by communicating with the Engineering teams.  

 

A few questions to ask:

Does the OKR vendor provide in-house technical success support?  

Why is this important? You’d want to work with a team that knows the OKR software inside out and can and effectively communicate your needs to implement product enhancements. 

 

Can the technical success team translate your requirements to custom solutions?  

Why is this important? You need to ensure flexibility and the technical success team should have the ability to customize design solutions tailored to your use cases.  

5 things to remember

While this is a lot to go through, these questions are crucial in helping you select the best software for your business. A few things to remember:

  • Don’t believe everything you see — test the OKR platform yourself.
  • If you don’t have the time to try out each software, organize demo calls. Count the clicks needed to perform an action.
  • Be specific about what you need. But do take ‘No’ for an answer, appreciate the honesty. This speaks of the vendor’s integrity.
  • Check out customer reviews. The truth is usually hidden there.
  • Take your time to make this decision and be certain. If you end up not liking it, there’s always a way out.

 


At Gtmhub, we’re committed to helping you bridge the gap between strategy and execution. Inspired by the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) methodology, our platform is designed to help you align your teams, improve focus and foster transparency.

Quick-start your OKR journey with ready-to-go OKR templates from our Marketplace or connect with 160+ Integrations to update your OKRs and KPIs automatically to easily make data-driven decisions with our customizable Insights and Dashboards.

Ready to achieve your most ambitious goals? Start a free trial today or book a demo to see Gtmhub in action.

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