Getting Started With Team Metrics

About this Paper

Whether you use data all the time or are just starting, aligning your team around metrics can help drive growth and make your product more successful. To help you get started, we recommend the Objective-Key-Result (OKR) process to set your team goals and learn what the most important things are to track.

With this paper you’ll learn:

  • What companies like Intel and Google do to help teams focus on the most effective actions
  • How to get everyone to understand how their contribution ties to company success
  • How team metrics can help set benchmarks and get everyone on the same page

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Why do you need Team Metrics?

Whether you are using data all the time or just starting, getting your team aligned around metrics can help drive growth and make your product more successful. To help you get started, we’re recommending the OKR (Objective-Key-Result) process to set your team goals and learn what the most important things are to track. Companies like Intel and Google, as well as countless smaller companies, use the OKR process. This helps to ensure that everyone at the company understands their own individual contribution to the success of the company and to help their teams focus on the most effective actions to move the needle for the whole organization.

Goal setting is important for several reasons. First, it helps the company focus, not on 50 goals, but on the top 5 or so goals that are critical to the company’s success. By going through the process of brainstorming and writing goals, we are assured that the major goals will surface. That’s good  discipline.

Goal setting also helps with accountability and coordination between teams. We know what we need to accomplish, when it needs to be accomplished, who is going to own it, and how we are going to work together to get it done. When done right, goal setting is a very powerful tool. Every team member in the company can link their goals to the corporate goals, knowing that their work is having a direct impact on the success of the company.”
– John Doerr, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, instigated the OKR process at Intel & Google

How to Start

Company-wide Metrics

If your company has not set company-wide goals, the OKR process can help to define what the most important collective goal should be for your organization.

Your team metrics need to support your company goals, so the first step will always be getting a clear picture of what your organization wants to achieve as a whole. In some cases, your company may already define its mission and goals. Ask your leadership team to give you their quarterly goals if they’re not implementing OKRs across the company.

Team Metrics

Even if your company has existing organizational goals, teams benefit from setting supporting goals and tracking their Key Results. You can take the goals your company has established for the next quarter and use them to frame the best Objectives your team owns.

In your first meeting to establish Objectives, take these steps to begin the process:

  • Identify broad goals
  • Filter goals that support other goals
  • Articulate goals as Objectives that are ambitious but possible in the next quarter
  • Pick 2-3 goals to focus on

For example, one of our company’s missions is to help users manage and understand data, so our quarterly Team Objectives might be something like, “Increase our user base” (Growth Goal); “Add a new feature that lets teams share data charts in Slack” (Product Goal); or “Increase our NPS score”
(Success Goal).

In your second meeting, you’ll decide which Key Results will tell you if you’re meeting your Objectives.

Key Results are metrics that fit the following criteria:

  • Measurable
  • Accountable
  • Indicate success of Objective directly (i.e., if you track a metric, there aren’t a number of other possible causes for the metric’s goal being met)

Do not use general or subjective actions as Key Results.

Key Results should always be numerically based, so you can track them in a quantified way.

What metrics can you track that indicate success of the Objectives?

For example, if your team chose “Improve code quality” as an Objective, you might track “Number of escaped bugs,” “Number of bug-related customer complaints” and “Team confidence in our release.”

For each of these Key Results, you should set a goal that is ambitious but possible; you should be able to get to 60-70% of your goal with reasonable effort; it should seem quite difficult to hit 100%, but within the realm of possibility.

So in this case, you might set a goal of “number of escaped bugs” at <X, if X is significantly fewer than in your past releases.

Individual OKRs

The next step of this process is to individually create 2-3 objectives for the quarter. You’ll be able to track your key metrics to see how well you are progressing over the quarter and to see if you’re on the right track. The goal is ultimately not to hit the “goals” in your Key Results, but to move the needle on your Objective. If that doesn’t happen, you will need to revise the Objective in your next OKR-setting phase, or to track different Key Results.

Following up

Team leaders can help their team members stay on track with both team and individual OKRs. Exposing metrics on a dashboard or other sharing tool creates transparency for the whole organization, so when a Key Result seems to be headed in the wrong direction, you can lend a helping hand.

You might want to review Key Results as part of your stand up process or in retrospectives. A mid-quarter 1:1 check in with each of your team members is another great way to ensure everyone’s aligned and meeting their goals.

Meeting 1: Setting Team Objectives

1. What are OKRs? (10 minutes)

OKR is an acronym for:
Objective
+
Key Results

Your Team Objective is the high-level goal you’re setting for a quarter based on company goals. Most companies set goals on a quarterly or yearly basis, and these can inform the team metric building process.

For example, if your company’s mission is to help users manage and understand data, your quarterly Team Objectives might be something like, “Increase our user base” (Growth Goal); “Add a new feature that lets teams share data charts in Slack” (Product Goal); or “Increase our NPS score by 10%”
(Success Goal).

An Objective should fit into the following formulas:

  • Description – By achieving [the Objective], we/I will [result that furthers company goals]
  • Alignment – [The Objective] meets our company goal of [x]
  • Key Results are measurable indicators of activities you perform to achieve the objective.
    They must be:

– Measurable

– Accountable – the team should own the metric

– Indicative of the success of Objective directly (i.e., if you track a metric, there aren’t a number of other possible causes for the metric’s goal being met)

– Numerically based, so you can track them in a quantified way

Our company has set the following goals for the quarter:
(these should come from your CEO or company leaders)

Key Results are metrics that fit the following criteria:

  1. Objective 1__________________________________________________________________
  2. Objective 2_________________________________________________________________
  3. Objective 3_________________________________________________________________
  4. Objective 4_________________________________________________________________

2. What are our Team Objectives?

Remember, these are stretch goals, but should be conceivably accomplishable.

  1. Identify broad goals
  2. Filter goals that support other goals
  3. Articulate goals as Objectives that are ambitious but possible in the next quarter
  4. Pick 2-3 goals to focus on

Identify broad goals (15 minutes):

  1. Write your company’s mission and quarterly goals on a whiteboard or share in a document.
  2. Brainstorm about what goals your team owns that are in support of these goals, and are possible, if not probable, to complete in a quarter.
  3. Give each team member a pad of sticky notes. Each team member should write 3-8 suggested goals on the sticky notes.
  4. After 10 minutes, have your team put these sticky notes on a whiteboard or wall and read out all
    the ideas.

Objectives should articulate top-level goals. Try to avoid naming “tactics” (ways to achieve a goal).

Filter Goals that support other goals (15-20 minutes):

Group the goals that are connected to the same idea or general goal.

At this stage, identify any goals that are really sub-goals of another goal. For example, if one goal is to “create a feature that increases retention,” and another goal is to “test if the feature increases retention,” making the feature is the top-level goal. These may both be subsets of another goal, “Increase Retention,” that your organization has set company-wide.

Team members should explain their thinking about the goal they suggested and allow others to weigh
in on:

  • Is the goal broad enough to be an Objective? For example, is this a tactic to achieve a bigger goal,
    or the main goal of the team itself?
  • Is the goal attainable, measurable, ambitious and owned by the team?
  • Is the goal a priority for the next quarter?
  • Are there dependencies that the goal requires that aren’t in place?

You should also eliminate any goals that your team can’t really own.

Define your Objectives from the top-level goals that remain.

Remember, these Objectives should fit the following formulas:

  • Description – By achieving [objective], we/I will [result that furthers company goals]
  • Alignment – [Objective] meets our company goal of [x]

Choose your Objectives

In the last step of this meeting, you will choose 2-5 goals for your team to focus on. Choosing 2-5 goals doesn’t mean you can’t work on other goals, but you should agree that achieving these Objectives will be your team’s priority.

Success! You’ve set your Objectives for the quarter!

3. Follow up

After the meeting, send your team a summary of the Objectives you decided on as well as the full list of ideas generated so they can be used to help set Individual OKRs.

Add these Objectives to the Key Results Meeting Agenda, which you can include in an email when you remind teammates about the Key Results Meeting, coming up next.

We recommend trying to schedule both your Objective and Key Results meetings within one week so your team stays current on the Objectives they’ve made. If you have multiple teams, make sure Objectives and Key Results are transparent using a dashboard or other sharing tool.

Each quarter when you return to the process, you’ll be able to refine and improve your goal-setting based on the success of the Objective and Key Results you discovered in your last quarter.

In the next meeting, you will choose the Key Results that you will track to measure the success of each Objective, and begin to use this process to set your Individual OKRs.

Meeting 2: Tracking Key Results

1. Review OKR process

In the last meeting, you set your team’s Objectives, the high-level goals you’re setting for a quarter that advance the organization’s total goals.

In this meeting, you will set Key Results, which are measurable indicators of activities you perform to achieve the objective. They must be:

  • Measurable
  • Accountable
  • Indicative of the success of the Objective directly (i.e., if you track a metric, there wouldn’t be a number of other possible causes for the metric’s goal being met)
  • Numerically based, so you can track them in a quantified way

2. Review your Objectives

In the last meeting, you established your team’s Objectives.

Objective

+

Key Results

These are the Objectives we set (fill in with your Team Objectives):

  1. Objective 1__________________________________________________________________
  2. Objective 2_________________________________________________________________
  3. Objective 3_________________________________________________________________
  4. Objective 4_________________________________________________________________

Write these Objectives on a whiteboard or share in a document.

Review each one to make sure everyone understands the goal and clarify the goal if necessary.

3. Setting Key Results

A) Brainstorm (10-15 minutes):

For each Objective, brainstorm for 5 minutes with the team on which metrics you could track that would indicate the Objective is successful.

B) Filter (5 minutes):

Filter metrics by eliminating any that:

  • You can’t directly affect
  • Don’t directly indicate success of the Objective
  • Could indicate the success of something else
  • Are not numerically measurable
  • Don’t have a clear way for you to get the data

C) Prioritize (5-10 minutes):

Choose the metrics that best help you understand if your Objective is being met.

For example, if your team’s Objective was “Grow our user base,” some sample Key Results
might be:

  • Increase WAU to X
  • Increase site traffic to X unique visitors/week
  • Increase Signup to Trial conversion to X%
  • Increase Trial to Paid conversion to X%

D) Choose 2-3 Key Results for each Objective (5 minutes):

Assign one team member to own the tracking and recording of each of your Key Results.

You should track the number in your Key Result on a regular basis. You can use Jama Software to create a shareable visualization of your data to keep your process front-of-mind and transparent and to set up reminders to report.

Keep a record of other indicators from your brainstorm session that will help you to see if you’re
on track. Even if these aren’t your team’s Key Results, they can inform individual Objectives and Key Results.

Next, start your Individual OKRs.

Setting Individual OKRs

Now that your team has established its OKRs, it’s time to create the Individual OKRs that will help you track your contribution to the team’s success. To set Individual OKRs, you can use a similar process to the Team OKR-setting process. Typically, you’ll set your Individual OKRs in a session with your manager or team lead.

1. First, write down your Team’s OKRs or view your dashboard or shared team OKR document.

2. Next, brainstorm about what goals you might have on an individual basis that will contribute to the success of the team goal. The brainstorm in your team OKR meeting can help you to think of Objectives that you might take on.

For example, if your team has a goal to “Build a new feature to connect Slack to our product,” you might have an individual goal of “Build the front-end interface for our Slack integration.” If your team’s goal is “Increase signups by 20%,” one of your goals might be, “Create landing pages specific to different user journeys.”

Your Individual Objectives should fit into the following formulas:

  • Description – By achieving [Objective], we/I will [result that furthers team goals]
  • Alignment – [Objective] meets our team goal of [x]

3. Once you’ve created 2-3 Objectives, you’ll need to create the Key Results that track the success of your goals.

Brainstorm on which metrics you could use to reflect the success of each goal. It helps to review
Key Results with your team leader or teammate to get feedback and make sure you’re aligned with Team Objectives.

            Filter metrics by eliminating any that:

  • You can’t directly affect
  • Are not numerically measurable
  • Don’t directly indicate success of the Objective
  • Don’t have a clear way for you to get the data
  • Could indicate the success of something else

Set the metrics you are going to track, and identify the targets for these goals. You can set these up to track and visualize in Jama Analyze™ or you can use another tracking form like a spreadsheet.

Typical OKRs reflect a goal that you’ll only be able to get to 60-70% on if you are working at a normal rate. If you find you’re easily able to accomplish the goal by the end of the quarter, you aren’t being ambitious enough. If you can’t get even halfway there, adjust your expectations for the next round and take a moment to consider what prevented you from achieving your target.

OKRs are meant to increase transparency on a team, so expose your OKRs along with your teammates’ on a shared dashboard or other method of collaboration.

That’s it!

Track your Key Results throughout the quarter to make sure you’re on track, and use these results to stay aligned. Check in on OKRs in your 1:1s. Start setting your new Team and Individual OKRs again at the end of the quarter.