Skip to navigation
employee working at laptop
5 Min Read

5 Must-Have Features to Look For in an OKR Tool

Nicole Klemp

A formalized goal-setting process is essential for any organization that wants to define and track business objectives and drive high performance. If you’re using the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) goal-setting framework, you already understand why goal-setting and tracking are so important. (If you’re new to OKRs, check out our blog on the basics of OKR goals for a helpful overview.)

In this article, we’ll focus on the software side of OKRs, and how the right tools can help you facilitate a great goal-setting process. Read on to learn more about five features we believe are critical for creating and tracking OKRs and motivating employees to do their best work.

Why having an OKR tool is beneficial

OKRs encourage employees to strive for and achieve ambitious goals. They remind employees, managers, and leaders what needs to be done and the steps they need to take to achieve those objectives. When done right, OKRs can be your company’s roadmap for progress, aligning the entire organization around a common mission, vision, and set of values. 

All that being said, OKRs are only effective if they’re actually being prioritized as part of your performance management operations. If they’re not front-and-center in employees’ minds, even the most well-crafted OKRs can be forgotten or ignored. That’s why an OKR tool that integrates with employees’ and managers’ day-to-day activities is critical to facilitating regular conversations around goals and keeping individuals and teams on track.

What to look for in an OKR tool

While every company and industry has unique needs when it comes to managing goals, there are some common things we have found that most organizations will benefit from when choosing an OKR tool. The following are five of the top features to consider when looking to implement an OKR solution.

1. An easy-to-use interface

Nothing hurts software adoption more than a tool that’s a pain in the butt to use. If you want employees and managers to get on board with your OKR software, it must be easy for everyone in your organization to navigate.

The best OKR tools have a clean user interface that employees can learn to use with minimal guidance or training. Creating, editing, and updating progress on objectives and key results should be quick and painless tasks for your busy employees.

Good OKR tools clearly show progress on goals and offer reminders for check-ins. They help employees understand how their individual OKRs align with their team and company goals, and motivate everyone in the organization to contribute and win together.

2. A clear, comprehensive dashboard 

Research shows documenting goals significantly increases the chances of achieving them. The best OKR products include a well-designed, easy-to-read dashboard that illustrates individual and team OKR goals and the progress that has been made on each objective and key result.

Visualizing progress shows employees and managers how they’re tracking on personal OKRs, team-level OKRs, and organizational goals at a glance. It also helps motivate employees to perform at a higher level and facilitates more regular OKR conversations with leaders and peers.

3. The ability to track real-time progress 

Research from the American Psychological Association shows that the ability to see and monitor the distance from a goal is crucial for goal attainment. 

A good OKR tool will include progress bars, color coding, and other visual elements to show employees how much further they have to go to reach a goal and alert them when they’re falling behind. 

A strong OKR process should also include a way to help employees see how their efforts impact team and company goals. This allows them to connect the work they do every day to a deeper purpose, which is essential to employee engagement and performance.

4. Aligns with manager check-ins 

A healthy employee-manager relationship is key to goal attainment, and your OKR tool should help facilitate regular manager check-ins and goal conversations. By reviewing OKRs during check-ins and one-on-ones, managers can ensure their direct reports are on track with their goals, uncover any roadblocks, provide helpful feedback, and celebrate wins.

Regular OKR conversations allow managers to dig into specific areas where their team may need help. And since company and team priorities can change, it’s a good time for managers and their employees to review OKRs together and make sure their objectives still align with the company’s goals and that the right key results are in place. 

5. Integrates with your other performance management tools

OKR software shouldn’t feel to your users like just another tool to have to log things into. Your OKR tool should integrate seamlessly with your other HR tools and processes and make setting and tracking goals easier—not more complicated. 

At 15Five, we believe in a multi-faceted approach to performance management. That’s why our Perform solution integrates the OKR process with employee feedback, recognition, and check-ins, so teams can collaborate and stay focused on what’s most important to winning as an organization. 

Learn about the best OKR tools and strategies in our OKR playbook 

Need a little help understanding the best ways to launch, create, and track OKRs? We put together a tactical guide just for you. Learn how OKRs can fit into your performance management strategy, how to set OKRs and track progress, common pitfalls to avoid, and more in our comprehensive OKR playbook. 

Get the playbook >