OKRs vs. Product Roadmaps

Mar 16, 2022
OKRs vs. Product Roadmaps

OKRs & Product Roadmap Compared

In the world of product management, competing ideas abound on how to execute a successful product strategy. Some consider that emphasis on quarterly goals is ideal. It keeps teams focused and delivers results without hijacking their creativity. Others argue that taking a long-term view and building towards a sustainable product with the help of a roadmap is essential.

So how do you set your strategy to deliver results? The answer is simple. You need to include both.

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) and product roadmap will help you reach the goals. Let us figure that out in this article.

What is the OKR framework?

Objectives and Key Results, or OKRs, are an ideal tool to set business goals. The O stands for Objectives that teams need to accomplish and have measurable outcomes. KRs represent Key Results you can measure over time and indicate the progress towards the Objectives. OKRs are a way for departments to measure their progress and set ambitious, quantifiable objectives Everyone in a company must remain aligned with company priorities else nothing will get done appropriately.

Let’s consider the example of an OKR here.

Objective

Finalize product positioning

Key results

  • Write down in a few words what is the product is about
  • Write down in a few words what is our target segment in the short term
  • Write down in a few words what is the biggest benefit that our target market derives from our product
  • Get signoff from Product Head, CTO, CEO on the positioning

What are some of the vital components of OKRs?

OKRs may vary from one company to another. However, there are some best practices that businesses can adopt to improve the effectiveness of OKRs.

  • OKRs should help achieve the larger company goals.
  • It is best to add numbers to Key Results for improved effectiveness and measurability.
  • OKRs should be ambitious and enable your team to step out of their comfort zone.
  • Objectives should be short and clear statements that are easy to remember.
  • Ensure a uniform system to grade OKRs throughout the company.
  • Assign owners to each Key Result.
  • Build awareness around OKRs on how they are for the greater good.

What are the benefits of OKRs?

Let us look at the various advantages of implementing OKR in your company.

1. Aligns teams on strategic organizational goals

OKRs are a great way to align team members’ individual objectives with the vision of the company. They allow teams from different departments, which may not otherwise have anything in common, to work together on meaningful objectives. It can be an advantage for everyone through clarity about goals.

2. Promotes employee engagement

The first step to overcoming a lack of motivation is understanding the task at hand and its purpose. A set of shared OKRs can help everyone on your team understand why their daily activities are essential for achieving those goals. It may lead them into doing better work as well.

3. Improves team collaboration

OKRs can be an excellent tool for encouraging teamwork and communication between departments. It is because they involve high-level strategic objectives that require input from different people. You can also expect better cooperation among employees.

4. Adds agility to cross-functional teams

OKRs are a great way for companies to stay on top of their game. Businesses with objectives that span more than a year will spend time going down the wrong path before understanding where they should be heading. However, by setting short-term quarterly goals with measurable outcomes, it is easier to adjust priorities.

How product organizations have changed over the years?

A successful product starts with an MVP and roadmap. The early phase of this lifecycle is fast, while the team is small. At this stage, you should speed up adding customer feedback into your roadmap for future releases or improvements when necessary (and it comes quickly).

At other times, though, certain features need planning before release because they will keep customers engaged longer than others. As your company grows, your product too needs to adapt. Doing this requires a reliable team, with clear responsibilities defined from day one.

It is not always easy for a business to remain product-centric as it scales up. It may be time for some changes to make sure everyone has what they need before getting started on the next project. Strategic alignment is a challenge for product teams, not just individual employees. The natural alignment that happened before becomes an issue when multiple groups get involved in tandem.

The strategic intent becomes difficult without a framework like OKR. A roadmap can offer valuable insights for any product manager. At the same time, you must know what your specific domain will look like in one year and how this may affect plans within a quarter or three months if they change along the way.

OKRs vs. Roadmap: How do they compare against each other?

Roadmaps are a great way to help you stay on task, but they are not the only thing. You can also use OKR as your quarterly roadmap for objectives by setting priorities in conjunction with company goals. The targets will always measure how much work got completed towards achieving those high-level strategic targets.

Roadmaps are one of the critical tools for managing products. They allow product managers to plan and focus on tasks, which can be helpful when working with limited time frames or other constraints on project execution. The goal is to give precedence to specific initiatives based on their priority, making this tool helpful for everyone.

How to prioritize product roadmap through OKRs?

It is no secret that product roadmap have a lot in common with OKRs. The structure and purpose of product roadmaps gel very well with OKRs. An objective section reads like how you would find on one side or another during product strategy planning.

It should be short but clear statements about goals like simplifying the user registration process. Some roadmaps include stories explaining how teams will help meet these high-level objectives. Other detailed versions can instead provide key results on what success looks like. An example of a Key Result can be to reduce the number of information fields by 2.

Let us get into the specifics now.

  1. Write user problems as OKRs

The OKR framework makes for an ideal approach to planning a product. You can turn the user problems into Objectives and write Key Results as metrics that focus on them. Include these comprehensively in each OKR cycle.

2. Include OKRs in your product roadmap

One of the most important things you need to know about OKRs is they are not just for marketing or sales teams. Any department within an organization can use it as they should ultimately care about company goals.

Establishing OKRs and using objectives for your roadmap will give you the ability to break down an objective into smaller goals. You can also assess whether team members are succeeding regularly through OKR evaluation.

3. Have cross-functional OKR reviews regularly

After your team decides on a set of OKRs for the roadmap, pull everyone together regularly to check the progress. Make sure they continue working toward agreed priorities. You can also reassess if what you’ve set was too ambitious. It will give early warning signs about possible issues. Any successful product team will update its roadmap each week.

How to use OKRs for your next roadmap update?

In the OKR format, objectives are like a roadmap theme or epic. They both help you navigate your process. You can use this approach with little disruption so long as it gets planned carefully from the beginning stages of development through release day.

One of the best ways to make sure you are on track with your goals is by taking an OKR approach. Before drafting out any new epics or objectives, first, decide how you will objectively measure them. You can then define what key results you need to measure against them. It is easier for people who work with managers to stay motivated towards achieving those quantitative tasks.

Once your team becomes comfortable with the process, you can integrate the OKR framework better in your product roadmap.

Conclusion

Aligning OKRs and product roadmaps is a process and the alignment includes merging the company’s quarterly objectives with those of a particular team. It also comprises setting goals for teams in each OKR planning cycle, so they know what their job entails at any given time throughout these three months.

When mapping roadmap items, consider how each initiative in the product’s current quarter affects company objectives. You can do this by discussing and documenting it or explicitly considering a mapped matrix for a particular strategy with OKRs.

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