OK, so you're excited for your organization to roll out OKRs (so are we!). 

Take a moment to think through a few elements first, to help your implementation go smoothly.

Set program goals

OK, we're not saying you need to set OKRs for your OKR program, but before you dive in, it's a good idea to take a step back and reflect on a few questions.

  • Why are you implementing the program? Is it to provide better transparency across your organization? To spearhead a new product launch? To provide focus to fend off a competitor? Being clear on your "why" will help galvanize your employees as you kick off your program, or sometimes more importantly, when you're halfway through and excitement subsides.
  • What does success look like for this program? A year from now, how will you know if you've achieved your goals?
  • How will you communicate the program launch to your teams?

Determine your OKR calendar and timing

Annual timing:

Most companies will start with 3-5 high level objectives for the year. For example, if it is November 2020, they will set objectives for the year 2021. Some companies will take it a step further and have a two or three year plan they are building toward.

Quarterly timing:

Most companies plan their OKRs quarterly, as follows:

  • Q1 (January / February / March)
  • Q2 (April / May / June)
  • Q3 (July / August / September)
  • Q4 (October / November / December)

Note: If your company uses a different quarterly schedule, you can change it under Admin -> Time Periods.

Check-in cadence:

We recommend that team members check in and update their OKRs weekly. Ally has built-in notifications that will, by default, send a reminder via Slack at 9am local time each Monday. If Slack is not installed, it will come via email. 

Note: The day and time of reminders can be changed under Admin -> Notifications.

Some companies set their check-ins bi-weekly or even monthly, but we find that weekly is the best time frame.

Choose your pilot program

While it might be tempting to implement a full OKR program across your entire company all at once, we recommend easing into it more gradually with a pilot program. Here are three ways to do that:  

Option 1 (Keep it simple)

  • For smaller companies (less than 25 employees), rolling out your OKRs from top to bottom is definitely doable. However, our recommendation is to keep things simple to start.
  • Rather than trying to transfer every company goal, project, and KPI into the OKR framework, work hard to keep the number of Objectives on the lower end (3) and limit your goals to only the most crucial items.
  • Once your team is more comfortable with the process, you can expand your program.

Option 2 (Top-down management)

  • One of the most popular ways to roll out an OKR program is from the top down. The benefit of this method is that employees see that senior leadership is fully behind the program, serving as a model example for the program's importance.
  • In the first quarter of launch, OKRs are set by the executive team and, due to the transparent nature of OKRs, the entire organization has access to view their goals.
  • Throughout the quarter, a weekly cadence for check-ins is set as an example, and meeting agendas are structured around measurement against these goals.
  • After a successful first quarter, the next group to rollout OKR ownership, Team Managers, are trained and develop their OKRs (which are aligned with the senior leadership team). 
  • Lastly, after another 1 or 2 quarters, Team Managers expand their Key Results another level down to individuals team members.

Option 3 (Department pilot)

  • Another popular rollout method is for one individual department or group within a medium-large organization (for example, IT or a product engineering team) to do a top-to-bottom rollout involving team managers and individual employees.
  • With formal or informal support of upper management, the group adopts a weekly cadence for check-ins for 1 to 2 quarters, experimenting with what works and making agile changes. Along the way, team managers report back to management regarding successes, challenges, and recommendations.
  • Once the individual department and management is comfortable with how the program is working, a training plan is then formulated to roll out OKRs to the whole company

Note: The important thing is to find what works best for YOUR organization. Your strategy will grow and mature just as your OKR process does. Additionally, it's important to note that in each case, it will take at least 1-2 quarters to get into a good rhythm and make some necessary adjustments.

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