okr culture devops engineering

What does OKR stand for?

OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). They are essential frameworks for establishing and monitoring goals and outcomes. They also facilitate discussions regarding the alignment of an employee’s job with the company’s objectives.

Many companies such as Google use OKRs to improve engineering team culture and productivity. OKRs require a strong, open, and creative workplace culture to take root. OKRs offer you focus, alignment, commitment, and goal tracking.

What is the difference between KPI and OKR?

OKRs are frameworks, while Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are metrics measured within the framework. KPIs show how effectively you achieve your OKRs.

KPIs are assigned to every OKR you want to achieve. When planning KPIs, it’s important to ensure they are clear and attainable while your OKRs must be easy to implement and track.

Well-planned OKRs help teams understand what is necessary, what to optimize, and tradeoffs in their daily work. OKRs ask ‘what’ while KPIs address ‘how.’

What are good OKRs?

Good OKRs have the following characteristics:

  • Focus: OKRs promote disciplined, focused work by defining the desired results. When you concentrate on less than five objectives at a time, you direct the majority of your resources toward your most critical goals.
  • Autonomy: Clearly stated results guarantee that everyone knows how and when to contribute, promoting ownership of work.
  • Alignment: Create OKRs in context with organizational goals. OKRs guide organizations on the right path.
  • Accountability: OKRs motivate employees to take responsibility for their work.
  • Transparency: The OKR framework fosters a culture of openness, where all goals are open, and everyone views progress.‍

How do you define them?

Good objectives align with your company’s mission. Key results complement assigned objectives.

You identify good objectives by asking:

  • Are they meaningful?
  • Are they audacious?
  • Are they inspiring?

While you identify good key results by asking:

  • Are they specific and timebound?
  • Are they aggressive yet realistic?
  • Are they measurable and verifiable?

Software Engineering OKR examples

software Engineering OKR examples

When setting OKRs for your engineering team, you should consider the following:

Objective: Build great software.

Key Results:

  • Deliver a dedicated number of features per development cycle.
  • Reduce the number of bugs by a significant percentage.

Objective: Increased security in your systems.

Key Results:

  • Provide excellent security training to all team members.
  • Increase the frequency of data backups.

Objective: Improve code quality.

Key Results:

  • Decrease load time.
  • Encourage engineers to document code.

Objective: Stay current with developments in your industry.

Key Results:

  • Listen to weekly episodes of industry podcasts.
  • Read at least two industry-related books regularly.

Management or teammates can set team-level goals.

Reliability OKR Examples

To build an excellent service, you need to improve its reliability.

Some OKR examples you might consider when creating an impact for the reliability of your systems include:

  • Reduce MTTR for on-call engineers
  • Ensure incidents remain below the error budget
  • Reduce manual toil for responders
  • Increase increment velocity in SRE project work
  • Reduce the rate of operational work
  • Reduce incident recurrence
  • Increase in APIs response time
  • Decrease code errors
  • Increase failover design for microservices
  • Reduce network latency among your top services
  • Increase black swan event awareness among developers
  • Assure realistic SLA targets in line with current SLIs for a greater perc 97.5% of accounts

OKRs, Culture and Reliability

okr culture

You can improve your company’s OKR culture by:

  • Setting clear, long-term goals : It is easier for teams to do their daily tasks when they know the company’s long-term priorities. Having definite business goals help employees understand how to channel their work.
  • Holding regular check-ins with your teammates: You can regularly monitor progress toward your goals by engaging with your DevOps teams. This mentoring helps employees to learn and grow.

Assess their progress and let them know if they are on track to meet their objectives.

  • Acknowledging and praising teams : It is suitable for managers to congratulate team members on their achievements if they are doing well. Praise from managers has a positive impact on employee morale and productivity.

Benefits of OKRs for engineering teams

Through the empowerment and involvement of individuals, managers establish high-performing teams. Setting high-level goals at the beginning of the year are not enough.

Leaders need to take measures to follow up with their employees’ activities. Without follow-up measures in place, employees soon forget how their actions relate to the organization’s priorities.

Businesses have addressed this problem using the OKR goal-setting and tracking approaches.

Benefits of OKRs include:

  • They improve communication between your staff and help them feel more connected to the company’s mission
  • They give teams and individuals a clear path to follow
  • OKRs increase your team’s productivity
  • With OKRs, you monitor progress toward objectives regularly
  • They aid you in making better and more informed business decisions
  • They help you measure your goals and be more accountable to your teammates
  • They help you analyze the degree to which the achieved results align with the company’s mission, vision, and key objectives

Improving reliability with OKRs

The following significant outcomes will directly impact the reliability of your services, and these key results will also make your objectives specific and trackable.

Key Results :

  • Reduce the MTTR for on-call engineers by 10%
  • Ensure incidents stay within 80% of the mistake budget by creating buffers
  • Reduce the costs of on-call workers by reducing the number of false-positive system alerts
  • Increase SLI coverage from 95 percent to 100 percent for all services provided
  • Streamline SRE project effort by reducing the number of one-sprint increments
  • Reduce the time spent on operational tasks from 70% to 60%.
  • Cut incidences from 7 out of 10 to 5 out of 10.
  • As per the existing SLIs, ensure that 97.5 percent of the accounts have realistic SLA targets
  • Reduce latency by 2.5% for the most popular services
  • Improve the average load time of the application by 0.25 percent
  • Strive to reduce ten percent of open-source software mistakes
  • Increase the percentage of developers who are aware of black-swan events to 90%
  • Every situation you come across should be the subject of a post-mortem
  • All teams should adopt a test-first approach to development
  • SREs should prepare new test plans for every feature request made by customers
  • Provide tools and software that boost productivity by 40%
  • Organize a course to teach staff the most effective ways to set up their infrastructure
  • Have a plan to handle surges in demand up to 25% of your burst capacity
  • Increase Mean Time between System Failures (MTBF)
  • Decrease Mean Time to Repair (MTTR)
  • Reduce the number of bugs per new feature and product release

Contextualizing the essential outcomes can serve as a quick reminder of their significance. Setting priorities also reveals data that aids in achieving the business goals.

You can also include these extra details in the description of the key results.