The world may constantly be changing, but there is one thing that remains constant with growing businesses: you need to have a firm handle on project and task management. Thanks to Andy Grove, Intel’s former CEO, businesses have another tool to develop their objectives, called OKRs.
But what are OKRs? OKR and task management may sound like they belong together, but how are OKRs, tasks, and project management different?
Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.
Defining OKR and Project Management
First, let’s get clear on OKRs.
John Doerr brought the concept of OKRs to Google in 1999 after learning them from Andy Grove at Intel. In simple terms, OKRs are objectives with key results. Doerr explains, “the objective is what I want to have accomplished. The key results are how I’m going to get it done.”
Next, let’s examine project management. Project management is about managing knowledge, tools, and resources to deliver valuable projects. Because of the specificity of project management, when organizations use a formal project management system, it follows widely accepted standards, and people may even become certified in different levels of project management. Some of the widely used project management softwares are profit.co, ClickUp, Asana, Trello, and Apptivo.
The Differences Between OKR and Project Management Methodology
A fundamental difference between OKRs and project management lies within their names. First, an OKR includes the word objective; it’s explicit to completing one goal (which is why companies have multiple OKRs in their planning). Second, an OKR is a noun; a goal that you set. In contrast, project management involves a team working on accomplishing many goals. Project management is a verb; it’s about action. So, while both OKRs and project management have many moving pieces, they are different. However, using them together can create great results for your organization.
While project management includes task management, and OKRs may be incorporated into the process of project management, sometimes OKRs and tasks get mixed up. An OKR is much more substantial than a task. It is vital to differentiate these two pieces because the OKR or the project may fall off track if a team does not carefully determine whether they are working on a project, an OKR, or a task. When things like these fall into a messy puddle of random tasks, deadlines get muddied, and neither OKRs nor projects get completed.
How a project, an OKR, and task management differ in their execution can be broken down like this:
- Project management includes a variety of tasks and uses various systems and tools to keep the project organized.
- An OKR is what you aim to achieve, including combining projects and tasks to meet the key results.
- A task lives on a checklist; it may be independent, part of an overall project, or within the OKR process.
An OKR, with its framework for goals, includes 3-5 key results. The key results are tangible and measurable. Let’s look at an example. An organization creates an OKR to create an online course by year-end. The key results include creating the course, marketing across multiple platforms, and enrolling 5,000 students. Within the project management piece, it has all the tasks required to make those key results possible.
How would this OKR be considered by project managers?
- Knowledge: comes from the people involved in creating the course materials.
- Skills: the staff who transform that knowledge into the necessary mediums (video, course platform, resource documents, etc.).
- Tools: the specific software, hardware, and equipment needed to create the course, including video equipment, editing software, graphic software, and the course platform.
- Techniques: the methods used by the project manager and other people involved to create, manage, and monitor the progress and results.
Within the project and the OKR, there are specific tasks to deliver the project and key results as expected. Both the OKR and the project offer metric tracking to keep everyone involved with the timelines. One of the fundamental differences between the OKR methodology and project management is the purpose of those metrics.
OKR metrics are how you measure the key deliverables; it’s how you know the OKR is on track and when your objective is completed successfully.
Project management metrics include every piece of the project, from task timelines, hours worked, budget spent, and much more. While OKRs may consist of some of those items, every project carries similar measurable goals to ensure that the project management process includes all the critical numbers inside each project. With this information, project managers and leaders can determine the efficiency of the projects and look for gaps within any of the pieces involved with the projects (systems, tools, staff, etc.).
In addition, some example development goals for project managers are: streamlining projects to reduce costs, improve efficiency, or achieve a higher profit for the company. Finally, performance goals for project managers may offer both project managers and their team members the chance to expand their skill sets, hit new targets, or deliver more projects per year.
You can manage tasks alongside strategy and OKRs when you use the Profit.co software. Get started completely free today!
OKRs and KPIs
Now that we have a handle on the difference between OKRs and project management, let’s clear up any confusion about OKRs and KPIs. Both OKRs and KPIs involve measuring progress but, in this comparison, the OKR is more action-driven than a KPI. A KPI, or Key Performance Indicator, is used to track the health and efficiency of a business.
Essentially, OKRs tell users what they need to achieve, and assign specific outcomes that individuals are responsible for. KPIs work well within the OKR framework to help quantify goal success, but they are only measurement tools. These two acronyms are far from interchangeable; a KPI does not replace an OKR, and vice versa. But, a KPI supports the OKR, and the OKR may include KPI metrics to verify the key results.
OKRs in DevOps
When done well, OKRs are a constructive process with DevOps. DevOps (development operations) deliver applications and services faster than traditional software development processes. Because software development traditionally demands quick timelines with short turnaround times, defining OKRs for a DevOps team allows the DevOps department to focus on priority items and align with the team and business objectives.
Key areas OKRs are the most beneficial include:
- Product development
- Managing upgrades and fixes with new releases
- Change and configuration management
At first, when leaders start contemplating adding OKRs and more streamlined task management into the organization, it may feel overwhelming. But, with a better understanding of the differences between OKR, task management, and project management, it is possible to do this successfully in organizations of every size.
It becomes easier for teams who use task management software. Software should be agile, easy to implement in your organization, and simple to integrate with your other softwares.
Evaluate the software based on the ease of use, implementation, and ongoing support. Implementing a system like OKRs is well worth the effort and easier to manage with the right solution and support.
You can book a free demo with the OKR experts at Profit.co to learn more about how OKRs and task management can work together to help you achieve your goals more efficiently.