Using OKR with spreadsheets? 10 reasons why you need to upgrade to an OKR software.
Updated: Apr 7
Your organization has decided to adopt the OKR framework to translate strategy into execution. Objectives and Key Results have been identified and assigned. You use spreadsheets to keep track of how well teams and individuals are doing and your teams and you have embraced OKR and are starting to see some results, but your spreadsheets are proving to be a bug bear. Sounds familiar?
Most companies using spreadsheets for OKR face certain common problems, and here are the reasons why you may want to upgrade to an OKR Software to solve these problems.
1. Spreadsheets start to get cumbersome very soon.
Even though you start with a template, everyone starts creating minor variations. File names vary, storage is in different places, formats vary and very soon you cannot get your team to use it in a structured manner. You start appreciating the need for a software to get better at defining and sharing OKR's and to get your check-ins better organized.
2. You cant rely on the figures.
The very fact that spreadsheets are easily modifiable makes them unreliable, especially when the number of users go up, and the number of check-ins that occur increase. You don't know when it was last updated, or when it was last checked in, unless the sheets are really well structured. When you are taking serious decisions that affect execution of your organizations' strategy, or ones that affect team functioning, you want something that you can rely on. You want a trail of what is modified and that's when the need for an OKR software comes in.
3. You cant keep track of a trend
Objectives and Key Results needs to be tracked over a period of time - either via multiple check-ins within a period or across periods. If you were using spreadsheets this would be difficult since you would have to open numerous spreadsheets to track progress. With an OKR software it is a lot easier to track OKR performance across a period.
4. A check-in is far more than just a numeric update
Most spreadsheets just get numeric updates during check-ins for progress tracking. In reality you need to capture and collaboratively work on some critical information that throws more light on that check-in. For example, what are the confidence levels? What are the risks? What corrective actions need to be done and so on. You want to record these and allow the team to access this so that you can make course corrections and achieve the goal together. A software allows you to capture, record and share more such information making OKR much more than data but a goal that everyone is seriously and collectively working towards.
5. OKR's are not always transparently shared
Some OKR's are confidential and some are not. While pure practitioners of OKR want to share information freely within the organization, the reality is that OKR's are meant to be secure. Only some team or division related OKR's are shared, and that too only if people are jointly working towards something. You don't want everyone to know what is confidential, especially if it is sensitive - for example pay related spend. With good OKR software like Stragiliti OKR, you can restrict or allow depending on who needs to see what.
6. Collaborate on what to do
OKR's are all about collaborative achievement of goals. When your goals are up there and aligned, and check-ins indicating what the true state of the goal is, it's important to have well defined access levels and sharing capability so that everyone can collaborate. An OKR software is definitely better than spreadsheets from this perspective, given the ability to share yet restrict, track changes and establish trails.
7. Integrate with tools
Integration to collaboration tools like Slack and MS teams help especially when there is a present context of what the Objective, Key Result or Initiative is. Since teams are also predefined, it's far more easier to set up meetings, especially when one has to huddle and work on OKR's together frequently.
8. Quality of reporting
When you have a software, reports are far better than having the information in sheets. With software reports can query from various perspectives, like teams, operating units, KPI's periods etc. and track the progress of the OKR's much better.
9. Use KPI's from libraries for best practices
KPI's are tried and tested measurements relevant to a function or an industry. By measuring them you know it is something that is of value and can be benchmarked. When KPI's are linked to Key Results there is a context to it, making it far more relevant and real to a situation or for a person. Good OKR software come with libraries of KPI's that can be used for specific situations.
10. Automatic Upgrades
SaaS/ Cloud based OKR software are continuously being improved in terms of features, usability and security. When you subscribe and start using them you automatically are eligible for the improvements that are delivered to all clients on a periodic basis. Features that are added are usually ones that are asked by other users of OKR and hence are well considered and useful for you too.
So bottom-line, if you have more than 20 users of OKR, we would strongly recommend using an OKR software rather than spreadsheets. OKR Software like Stragiliti OKR are not only comprehensive, but have a user friendly and self learnable interface and sticks to the core principles of OKR that are crucial for successful usage and growth strategy execution.