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Product development life cycle

OKRs for product management, product managers, and product teams

Rebecca Noori 10 min read
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You have an overall vision for your product—you know you want it to be better, faster, and shinier than anything else in the market and loved by your customers. Ideally, you’ll also have a strategy or product roadmap set out, with some milestones and resources included. But what gets you from the starting point to the finish line?

Enter objectives and key results—the extra level of detail you need to keep your plans on track and hold every team member accountable for their part of the journey. This guide explores OKRs for product management, including their benefits, examples, and best practices. We’ll also explore how to use them within monday dev.

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What are product management OKRs?

In the 1970s, Intel’s CEO Andy Grove adapted Peter Drucker’s Management by Objectives theory to create a goal-setting framework known as Objectives and Key Results. In product management, these encompass:

Objectives: Broad, qualitative goals articulating what you want to achieve. For example, you might want to enhance the quality of your product or increase customer satisfaction.
Key Results: Quantifiable, measurable outcomes indicating progress towards achieving your objectives. For example, you might measure the number of bugs fixed in your product or the percentage of customers who rate your product as highly satisfactory.

What are the benefits of using OKRs in product management?

If you already have a product roadmap, you may wonder about the value of setting OKRs on top of your existing plan. Here are some top reasons to commit to this process:

OKRs ensure clarity and accountability

OKRs for product managers focus the mind. They avoid the common pitfall of dealing with too many tasks at once and spreading resources too thin. OKRs also ensure every team member understands their responsibilities and how they tie into the bigger picture.

OKRs produce measurable outcomes

OKRs are inherently measurable, providing a clear metric for success—you hit them, or you don’t. This emphasis on measurable outcomes helps product managers assess the effectiveness of their strategies and pivot when necessary.

OKRs enable agility

OKRs are set and reviewed over short periods, such as every quarter, enabling product teams to keep their strategy relevant. A fast, frequent review cycle is a godsend in Agile development, enabling teams to adapt on the fly to market changes, customer feedback, or other changing business priorities.

For example, if your product team struggles to improve customer satisfaction in your product line, you might implement user feedback surveys or allocate more resources towards enhancing the user experience.

OKRs enhance communication and collaboration

Transparency allows product management teams and those collaborating with them to coordinate their efforts more efficiently. When everyone understands the overall objective, this level of visibility keeps workflows moving in the same direction.

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How are OKRs different from product strategy?

Goals, objectives, strategy—all these words sound as if they’re focused on the same thing. They all refer to the grand plan of managing the development of products that resonate with your customers. But if you use OKRs and product strategies correctly, they should differ from each other in the following ways:

  • Purpose: OKRs are specific and narrow, focusing you on action, while product strategy is the North Star you’ll continuously refer back to.
  • Timeline: OKRs focus on delivering short-term immediate results that contribute to your long-term product strategy.
  • Scope: While OKRs deliver tangible, measurable outcomes, product strategy often includes broad, aspirational, long-term goals.

Examples of product management OKRs

Product management OKRs are designed to fit in with any aspect of your strategy from ideation to post-launch. Here are some examples to inspire you:

OKRs for product discovery

  • Objective: Improve the effectiveness of product discovery to identify high-value features.
  • Key Result 1: Conduct 20 user interviews within the next quarter to gather insights on user needs and pain points.
  • Key Result 2: Identify and validate 5 high-value feature ideas through prototype testing and feedback.
  • Key Result 3: Achieve a 50% increase in the number of validated ideas entering the development pipeline.

OKRs for release management

  • Objective: Enhance the efficiency and reliability of the release management process.
  • Key Result 1: Reduce the average time to release new features by 30% within the next six months.
  • Key Result 2: Achieve 95% of releases with zero critical bugs reported in the first week post-release.
  • Key Result 3: Implement automated testing for 80% of the release process to minimize manual errors.

OKRs for user research

  • Objective: Deepen understanding of user behavior and needs to inform product decisions.
  • Key Result 1: Conduct monthly user testing sessions with at least 10 participants each session.
  • Key Result 2: Increase the response rate for user surveys to 40% through improved survey design and incentives.
  • Key Result 3: Compile and present a comprehensive user research report each quarter, highlighting key findings and actionable insights.

OKRs for product launches

  • Objective: Ensure successful and impactful product launches.
  • Key Result 1: Achieve a 20% increase in user adoption rate within the first month post-launch.
  • Key Result 2: Secure at least 5 media mentions or reviews for each major product launch.
  • Key Result 3: Obtain a minimum customer satisfaction score of 85% from post-launch feedback surveys.

Best practices for product management OKRs

Any product manager can set OKRs, but only some do so successfully. Follow these best practices to design an effective, repeatable process your product team will happily commit to:

Choose to build or cascade your OKRs

Determine whether you want to build your OKRs from the ground up or have them cascade down the organization’s levels.

Building OKRs

A bottom-up “build” approach requires product team members to set relevant OKRs based on their understanding of their role. A supervisor higher up the chain then reviews and aligns these OKRs with overarching product strategy or organizational goals.

Example: A UX team member might set their OKR as: “To decrease the bounce rate in our app, I will commit to improving the user experience by boosting navigation and accessibility across different mobile devices.

This approach empowers team members to feel connected to their specific product management tasks and encourages a culture of communication and collaboration.

Cascading OKRs

Cascading OKRs are a top-down approach where product managers or other key stakeholders arrange high-level objectives into smaller OKRs for specific departments, teams, and individuals.

Example: Imagine the overall product goal is to “increase market share by 10% in the next quarter.” Senior leaders might assign specific OKRs to each of the product management, sales, and marketing teams to move everyone toward this goal.

While this approach can feel prescriptive and certainly less collaborative, it ensures a consistent framework and enables product leaders to take control of the OKR framework.

Select your OKR metrics

Effective OKRs require meaningful metrics to ensure you achieve your objectives and the key results you expect. Tailor your metrics according to your OKR; some examples include:

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): Measure the likelihood of users recommending your product to others.
  • Number of features released: The total count of new features deployed in a given period.
  • Development cycle time: The average time taken to complete a development cycle.
  • Market share: The percentage of total sales in your industry that your product represents.
  • Innovation adoption rate: The percentage of new ideas implemented and adopted.

Limit the number of OKRs

While it’s tempting to track the heck out of everything, limiting the number of OKRs to a manageable amount is best. Aim for 3 to 5 objectives, each with 3 to 5 key results to maintain focus.

Review and adjust regularly

The beauty of using OKRs is the opportunity for reflection. At the end of the OKR period, review what you achieved or missed the mark on. In either case, use the insights to improve future OKR setting and execution.

Hit your product management OKRs with monday dev

monday dev allows product managers to set, track, and hit their OKRs from a central and collaborative workspace. Our platform connects leaders, technicians, and customer-facing teams, ensuring everyone has access to the product management intel they need via the following features:

  • Roadmap planning: Align OKRs with your overall product vision using our Roadmap Template, which allows you to map out details in a Gantt, Timeline, or Table View to share with stakeholders.
product roadmap dashboard in monday.com
  • Sprint management: Track progress toward your OKRs using our Sprint Management template, all from a central location.
monday dev sprint management board
  • Monitor bugs and issues: Ensure you hit your product quality OKRs with our Bug Tracking template which effectively monitors, reports, and assigns bug issues to specific team members.
An example of a bug tracking template in monday dev.
  • Release and feedback: Collect regular customer feedback and focus groups to shape your product direction. Our Feature Requests template allows you to prioritize the most important updates to your product line, using a Kanban, Chart, or Table View to organize your sprints.
With monday dev, you can collect user feedback, track feature requests, and organize ideas into your workflow. And prioritize upcoming features by collecting and storing the product backlog with relevant request data to create data-based decisions.

Ready to create strategic product management OKRs and align them with your product life cycle? Book a free demo of monday dev today.

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FAQs

A product goal is a general statement of the desired outcome, while an OKR breaks it down into specific and measurable objectives and key results. Product goals provide direction and purpose, while OKRs provide a framework for achieving those goals.

Many people can get involved in setting OKRs, from individual product team members all the way up to senior leaders, depending on whether you build or cascade OKRs. In either case, product managers will undoubtedly be involved in setting or approving these OKRs as they drive the product's strategy and vision.

OKRs and strategy are both integral to your product's success. It's important to lay the groundwork of a clear and defined strategic plan before setting the OKRs, which will help you execute that strategy. Yet, down the line, OKRs can also shape your strategy, as they provide insight into what's working and what needs improvement. Think of it as a cycle.

Rebecca Noori is an experienced freelance writer who specializes in writing and refreshing long-form blog content for B2B SaaS companies. When she's not writing, you'll find her knee-deep in phonics homework and football kits, looking after her three kids!
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