Aha! Roadmaps | Best practices for tracking OKRs

How will you evaluate success? Many companies use objectives and key results (OKRs) for setting goals and monitoring progress. It provides a management framework for defining what you want to accomplish and how you will measure progress.

You can set OKRs at each level of your organization, starting with company objectives at the top and then defining supporting objectives at each layer underneath — such as divisions, subdivisions, and individual teams. This kind of alignment between tactical work and business outcomes helps the entire organization focus on what matters most.

Here is an example of a company-level OKR for a SaaS company:

Objective: Increase recurring revenue by 15 percent

  • Key result 1: Add 50 new customers per month

  • Key result 2: Reduce churn to less than 3 percent per month

  • Key result 3: Increase average subscription to $300 per month

Aha! Roadmaps provides an effective solution for managing OKRs. A flexible workspace hierarchy makes it possible to set objectives at each level of your organization and establish roll-up relationships between levels. You can link initiatives, releases, epics, and features directly to your objectives. And you can track and report on results as you go. This enables you to show exactly how you will deliver against your objectives and communicate progress along the way.

The best practices in this article explain how to configure your Aha! Roadmaps account to support the OKR management framework. You will learn how to configure your workspace hierarchy, customize terminology, and add custom fields so you can capture objectives and track key results. Some organizations also set OKRs for individual team members. This article focuses on managing objectives across your organization.

Click on any of the links below for recommendations on how to manage OKRs in Aha! Roadmaps:

Step 1: Configure your workspace hierarchy

You will want your workspace hierarchy to match the way your organization sets OKRs. For example, a smaller company might set OKRs at two levels — the overall company level and then for each individual product or team. A large organization typically needs to capture OKRs across additional layers, such as division and sub-division levels. You can use workspace lines and workspaces to create as many levels as you need. This ensures you can connect objectives throughout your organization.

The screenshot below shows how a large software company might structure its workspace hierarchy in Aha! Roadmaps to manage OKRs at three levels — company, portfolio, and product.

You can also create workspace lines to represent different business functions. Choose the type of workspace that is best suited for what you do — such as IT, project management, business operations, and marketing. This gives teams of all types a central place for setting objectives and creating strategic plans.

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Step 2: Customize your terminology

Goals are the main record type you will use in Aha! Roadmaps for defining objectives. You can customize the terminology in your account, renaming "goals" to "objectives." We recommend setting the terminology you want to use at the workspace line level of your workspace hierarchy. This way, any workspaces within that workspace line will automatically inherit the same terminology. You can always customize each workspace individually as well if there are teams within your organization that do not use OKRs for tracking results.

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Step 3: Create custom fields and layouts

OKRs are comprised of two components — objectives and key results. Aha! Roadmaps comes with certain fields enabled on goals (which you have now renamed "objectives") by default, such as name, description, and success metric fields. You can use these for articulating what you want to achieve. You will just need to create custom fields for tracking key results.

First, create a custom layout for objectives. Determine how many key results you want to capture for each objective. Then create two custom fields for each key result — one for defining it and the other for entering the actual value. In the example below, we created custom fields for three key results. We used a text field to describe each metric and a number field to capture the value.

We also recommend adding the custom fields for defining the key result to the modal that appears when new records are created — so teams capture these important details upfront. You can apply the same custom layout in all workspace lines and workspaces that use the OKR framework. This helps you establish a consistent approach for defining and tracking OKRs across your organization.

If you are on the Enterprise+ plan, consider using custom tables for storing key results. This approach is especially helpful if you plan to update your results on a weekly basis because you can track progress over time.

First, create a custom table for capturing key results. Add the table as a tab to the details and drawer views of your objectives using a one-to-many relationship field. Then create a second custom table for storing the actual results. Add a one-to-many custom table relationship field to the key results custom table and link it to the actual results custom table.

The Enterprise+ plan is for organizations that demand the most sophisticated capabilities and a hands-on level of support from our concierge team. It also includes advanced security and backup features, as well as ongoing training services. Please contact us if you would like to learn more.

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Step 4: Define your objectives

Now it is time to start setting those OKRs. Follow a top-down approach that starts with defining overall company objectives. Then create supporting objectives at each level of your hierarchy. Add a time frame, overall success metric, and key results for each objective. Use the Roll up to workspace line field on each record to establish relationships between objectives at each level of your hierarchy. We recommend making this field required to drive consistency throughout your organization.

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Step 5: Connect work to strategy

Create a unified plan for accomplishing your objectives. Define initiatives to show how the high-level efforts you are planning and link them to objectives at each level of your hierarchy. Then, use your strategy to guide the implementation of work. Define releases in the individual workspaces and prioritize epics and features that best support your strategy. You will want to link these work items to workspace objectives and initiatives so you can see how everything ties together.

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Step 6: Track key results

You want to monitor performance and quickly identify any issues so you can make course corrections as needed. So set a regular cadence for updating your key results. You might want to assign a weekly or monthly to-do so the team keeps this information current.

Use custom statuses to see at a glance if your objectives are on track. You can also monitor progress based on the percentage of work completed. Enter the progress manually or automatically calculate it from related information. For example, you could auto-calculate the progress of objectives in the following way:

  • Workspace-line objectives: Calculate from child objectives

  • Workspace objectives Calculate from workspace initiatives

  • Workspace initiatives: Calculate from releases or features

  • Releases: Calculate the progress of releases from features

  • Features: Calculate the progress of features from requirements, remaining estimate, or to-dos.

Note: You can set default progress calculation methods at the workspace level, and even inherit defaults from workspace lines.

Many engineering teams capture the percent of work completed for features in their development system. You can easily sync the progress field for features in Aha! Roadmaps with the progress field in Jira, Azure DevOps, and Rally.

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Step 7: Build reports to visualize results

Time to create the list reports, pivot tables, charts, and custom roadmaps you need for tracking your OKRs. You can choose from more than 75 example reports or build your own using the intuitive Aha! report builder. Add saved reports to a presentation or share as a live webpage or PDF.

In the example below, we built a pivot table to visualize OKR progress. We included key information about each objective — including the name, key results, status, and progress bar. You can view OKRs by workspace which makes it easy to track progress across the organization.

The hierarchy report is ideal for visualizing relationships across objectives, initiatives, releases, and features. This helps you quickly see if your strategy is linked correctly at each level of your hierarchy. Gaps in the report help you quickly identify records — such as releases or features — that are not yet linked to a strategic objective so you ensure data consistency.

Use the strategy roadmap to visualize the timing and progress of initiatives. You can include initiatives across multiple workspace lines and workspaces in one view. You can also layer in the tactical work underway, displaying releases and features in the context of each initiative.

Regardless of the goal-setting framework your organization uses, what matters is defining strategy in a way that clearly communicates what you want to accomplish and defines the criteria for success. If you need help configuring your account to define and track goals across your organization, contact us at support@aha.io. A member of our Customer Success team will respond to your request fast.

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