Getting to grips with OKRs and how to track progress

Tracking transformation progress can be tricky. With new tools popping up and processes to contend with, measuring success can feel like a minefield. Organizational leaders are often left wondering, what are the most important metrics? Who should set them? And which is the best tool to track progress?

OKRs (objective key results) are an effective goal-setting methodology that helps you track progress, create alignment, and encourage engagement around measurable goals. Unlike KPIs which evaluate performance over time, OKRs are about improving and measuring for change.

SAFe Summit guests enjoying a buffet

Who should set OKRs?

In our blog Getting started with OKRs we discussed how to set OKRs and the common pitfalls to avoid. Equally important, is who should set them.

It’s common for the leadership team to set out OKRs and then want to define team-based OKRs. But they’re frequently not in alignment with the teams and what they’re doing, nor individuals’ career goals. 

When something is forced upon you with little or no communication, it takes a bit longer to adjust than if you’re allowed to contribute for yourself. 

So as leaders, it’s far more effective to set larger objectives with key results and allow teams or individuals to create their own. This builds commitment and buy-in and begins to change the mindset on how you operate as an organization.

What are the different types of key results?

When it comes to key results, it’s important to think about including leading and lagging indicators. 

If you’re releasing a new product, a leading indicator could be the number of downloads, whereas a lagging indicator might be the retention after the product has been downloaded or the usage rate.

You want to make sure you measure for activity-based results too – an action that needs to be taken, such as ‘achieving backlog transparency’ – and value-based ones – the value that’s resulted, such as ‘eliminating $2 million worth of duplicative backlog work’.

How often should you measure an OKR?

Regularity and flexibility are key here. 

How often you measure really depends. Some organizations will have goals that are not achievable in a single quarter. Does that mean they should only measure that goal once a year? Certainly not. You want to make sure you’re measuring them quarterly, at a minimum.

And those measurements should be as adaptive and frequent as possible without it becoming task management for your end-users and the people who have to deliver on them.

How should we track OKRs?

We asked delegates of our webinar on measuring transformation success to tell us which tool they’re using to track OKRs. The results were not surprising.


48% track OKRs manually

(sad, considering we’re in a digital age)


38% track OKRs manually

(why bother setting them in the first place?)


Only 14% use a tool to measure OKRs

Manual tracking OKRs is a time-consuming and burdensome process which is not scalable (nor always accurate). On the other hand, an OKR tool provides a single source of truth everyone can see. It enables teams to visualise key metrics easily, and they can use the insights to drive continuous improvement. 

In recent years, there have been a growing number of tools available to track OKRs including Gtmhub, Aha! and Jira Align, all of which we support.

Choosing the right tool depends on your organization, how your teams are structured, your willingness to change, and your goals.

Jira Align: just the ticket for OKRs

One tool that uses OKRs to measure metrics is Atlassian’s Jira Align, an enterprise agile management platform.

Jira Align connects your business strategy to technical execution. It covers the definition and management of your enterprise strategy through individual execution at the sprint level. 

Jira Align integrates seamlessly with Jira and will push and pull information from the Jira epic level all the way to sub-tasks and custom issue types, so you get a full reporting rollout.

With Jira Align you set an objective and your key results. Then you can use either the objectives tree view or the hierarchy view to keep track of your progress towards these key results. You can even see work progress, where work is tied specifically to your key results, so you know the tasks to achieve it are in motion.

We’re experts in Jira Align – a powerful tool for enterprise companies that want to scale their agile practices – as well as Aha!,, and Gtmhub.

Get in touch and we can help you find the right tool for your business.

“As leaders in an organization, we should refrain from setting goals for individuals or individual teams.”

Tina Behers, VP Enterprise Agility