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Goals and OKRs in Software Engineering Essentials

Goals and OKRs

Software engineering requires proper organization. This process is a combination of technical matters, interpersonal communication, and other interrelated aspects. It is about setting goals and measuring performance. 

Luckily, there are already well-developed practices in the field that can help teams and professionals to boost their productivity.

JatApp specialists have decided to share their experience in making goals and OKRs okr software development to ensure high performance results.

Still, before moving to concrete useful tips and advice, it is a good idea to set clear definitions of frequently misunderstood terms in software development – goals, OKR, and KPI. 

Goals and OKRs: Essence and Comparison

When we speak about goals, the issue comes to the progress and transferring ideas into reality with the purpose of reaching some state of things or results.

Usually, goals are such things as:

  • Mission and vision a software development company has formed. A few long-term goals are required here. 
  • Department or team goals. Such are explored thanks to a couple of short-term goals. 
  • Individual goals. 

What setting examples can be provided to illustrate the difference? 

“Reviewing the number of hours spent per day on work and other activities to increase productivity by an extra 10% per month” can appear among the software engineer self-evaluation examples of goals.

Setting a goal to “increase the ratio of training hours from 10% to 15% per day” may appear among workday goals examples.

“Becoming the most effective software development team in a company’s internal rating in less than 6 months” is among the work team goals examples.

“Implementing AI technologies within 1 year” may appear among technical goal examples.

Each goal has to be formulated explicitly and shortly. Pick the right words in the exact amount to provide in the goal title examples of the essence of what you can do.

The rule is simple here – if you can remove some words without losing the essence of a statement, you should do this. The shorter it is formulated – the better it is. The final title from the samples should be formulated 100% clearly, especially if this goal is for a team.

OKR stands for the Objectives and Key Results methodology. It is designated to track the progress within a team, ensure better engagement, and guarantee the alignment with the company’s goals.

To make a long story short – among OKR goals, there is a primary task to ensure that software engineers work with the purpose. OKR is used by such companies as Google, GitLab, and Netflix, for instance. 

So, what is the difference between the goals and OKR in a nutshell? Goals are more general and larger in extent. OKRs are more specific and are set for an individual, on a team level, and quarterly. 

There are a couple of things to distinguish from OKR:

  • Checklists for tasks. These lists are maximally precise and detailed while OKRs leave enough room for professionals to see how things should happen and how they should make an impact.
  • Evaluation of performance. OKR is more a summary in nature. It covers a certain period of time during which an SW engineer worked as well as a concrete scope of tasks performed. 

OKR and KPI Are Different Too

OKRs are more strategic in nature. They cover a larger scope of work. They set specific objectives and are aimed at measuring accomplishments. 

KPIs are about short-term options and ensuring accurate productivity metrics. In fact, KPIs are designated to measure how OKRs are performed. KPIs are also used to evaluate performance and make decisions about promotions.

Goals and OKR Development: How Things Work?

When speaking about goal setting, it is a good idea to take into account the SMART formula. This abbreviation stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.

The approach is designed to measure the performance at the end of such a period, usually, a quarter or year. 

What aspects should be considered while creating workable goals;

  • Goals should be ambitious in nature and inspire on making great achievements or at least the same performance. 
  • Goals need to be achievable. It should be possible to fulfill these plans within a defined period of time.
  • Goals have to be transferred into specific metrics.
  • It is crucial for goals to be transparent.
  • Goals have to reflect the peculiarities of the working process. 
  • Management has not to develop plans only but also review those periodically and discuss such with employees. This is the right approach for making employees more engaged in the process and encouraging their leadership behavior.

Don’t know how to set goals right? There are simple questions that can guide on the matter:

  • What is the purpose of a plan you are going to set?
  • Why is this plan important?
  • Why do you think it can be successful?
  • Does this plan support the general plans your company has set?
  • How do you intend to accomplish your plans?
  • What expectations do employees have regarding this plan?

If we speak about OKRS software development, there is a simple strategy in this case – Management by Objective Strategy (MBO) introduced by Peter Drucker.

There is a simple approach to OKR forming – people provide the best results when they are focused on the final results but exactly their accomplishments are evaluated by the company’s management.

There are good suggestions on how to create OKRs:

  • Transparency – employees should have an explicit view of all things they have to do.
  • Accountability – employees also should know about their responsibilities and management who is in charge of controlling their performance. 
  • Tracking – intermediary results should be tracked also to make sure that plans are fulfilled as intended. 

OKRs are always specific. They are designated to specify plans. 

Final Words

Software engineering is a field that requires preciseness and clarity. That is why goals and such things as OKRs and KPIs are essential in this case to ensure a steady development and personal growth.

Plans are more abstract things that provide the info about the general directions where a company moves. OKRs are more concrete things that specify plans that have been set.

OKRs are designated to measure accomplishments and KPIs are specific metrics. KPIs are used to measure concrete results of performance and make decisions about promotions.

Save this info for quick reference and guide on how to create these three important arrangements effectively in the future. 

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