How to Choose the Right OKR Tool for Your Agile Teams in Jira

Office team working together to track goals

“Ideas are easy. Execution is everything.” – John Doerr in Measure What Matters

(source)

Are you planning to implement OKRs in your company but unsure of the best tool to set and track them?

Maybe you’ve tried tracking OKRs the old-fashioned way, using spreadsheets, but it’s just not efficient. It’s difficult to track progress and keep a record of changes. As some team members may lack access to the spreadsheets, transparency is limited.

Fortunately, there are a plethora of OKR tools available to make tracking and measuring easier. The three main types of tools are spreadsheets, stand-alone software and Jira plug-ins. A range of templates are on offer for spreadsheets, there are more than 30 stand-alone software choices, and there’s a page of OKR Jira integrations on the Atlassian Marketplace. With so many options, how can you choose the best one for your agile teams in Jira? 

We’ll help you narrow them down by looking at the types of tools and some must-have features.

Types of OKR Tools

Tools for tracking OKRs range from basic spreadsheets to complex programs. Here are the main options available and some advantages and disadvantages of each.

Spreadsheets

The most basic way to track OKRs is with spreadsheets, either in Excel or Google Sheets.

When you’re implementing a new goal-tracking method, more traditional team members may appreciate the familiarity of Excel. There’s no need to learn to use a new piece of software on top of a new method. 

However, as all the progress needs to be updated manually in a single document, you or your team members may forget or put off making updates, making it difficult to see the overall goal progress. As OKRs pile up when you’re working with multiple teams over a series of periods, information on past OKRs may get lost, so you can’t track improvements.


Stand-alone software

If you want to automate your OKRs, you might consider a complete OKR management software to set your OKRs and automate tracking. Some even offer coaching as part of their packages, which helps companies that are just starting out with OKRs.

However, popular software like Weekdone can be a hefty investment, costing over $100 per month for just 10 users! That’s a lot to add to a software budget, especially if you’re already subscribing to Jira and other programs.

Another downside is that everyone has to learn to use a new program. Training takes time, and tracking and updating OKRs is an extra step in the workflow. Some of these programs do offer apps to integrate with Jira, which makes the transition easier.

Jira apps

But if you’re already using Jira, the most straightforward option is to simply use a Jira app that isn’t attached to another program.

Since your teams are accustomed to Jira, there’s not as much training involved as there would be if you were implementing entirely new software. Jira apps have the main features that you would expect in OKR software, and you can easily organize, track, and update them transparently since they’re right there in Jira. 


For frequent Jira users, an app is the best tool for setting, aligning, and tracking OKRs.

7 Must-Have Features for a Tool to Track Your OKRs in Jira

Jira OKR apps offer a wide range of features to meet business needs. You’ll have to consider your own company priorities, but there are a few features that are always helpful when implementing OKRs for your agile teams in Jira.

1. Transparent OKR Alignment

A key requirement for an OKR tool for agile teams is being able to transparently align company-wide and team goals.

A useful tool allows different levels of OKRs, such as company-wide objectives that everyone aims for, down to team OKRs to measure each team’s specific accomplishments and responsibilities. It shows the alignment between goals, clearly demonstrating how each team’s work contributes to the bigger picture.

2. Builds Clarity by Showing History and Allowing Detailed Comments

When using OKRs, it’s helpful to be able to keep track of past OKR periods and note what worked well on them and what didn’t so you can set better ones in the future. Review the history and consider why you completed certain KRs and add comments for reference.

Another useful feature is commenting on current OKRs if something needs to be clarified or to make updates on progress that aren’t numbers-related.

To keep employees on track with the OKRs, an app that links OKRs with Jira issues is best. That way, teams and individuals can see how their work relates to the overall company goals.

When they complete an issue, they’ve contributed toward reaching a key result. If progress is falling behind, management can also check and see which issues are holding things back. Then they’ll understand what blockers need to be addressed to get back on track.

4. Separates OKRs from Employee Compensation

However, while individual issues may contribute to overall progress or lack of it, don’t directly link OKRs to employee compensation. Some Jira OKR apps focus on employee performance evaluation, only rewarding those who reach certain targets.

If you’re focusing on team and company alignment to make progress together, that’s not the kind of tool you want. OKRs encourage ambitious goals. If teams and individuals believe their compensation will be affected if they don’t hit their targets, they won’t set high goals.

5. Allows for Automatic Progress Updates

To make sure all progress is updated in real time, look for an app that automates the process for you. Reviewing all the connected issues and calculating the progress yourself takes time. It’s much easier if the app automatically updates the progress toward an objective or key result when the issue is marked “done.”

6. Atlassian Audited Security

Your company goals are sensitive information that you want to protect. When choosing a Jira app, make sure that the vendor is an Atlassian Cloud Security participant. Check the vendor’s status as an Atlassian Solution Partner. If the vendor is a Gold Solution Partner, you know you can trust them to produce a quality Jira app that keeps your information secure.

7. No Additional Tools Required

Keep things simple for your teams by choosing an app that doesn’t require additional tools like spreadsheets or downloading new software. If you’re using Jira to keep track of all your projects, it makes sense to keep all your OKR information there too.

Extra spreadsheet documents add unnecessary complications. The simplest option is made just for Jira; then you have everything you need in one place.

OKR for Jira: A Powerful Tool to Consider

If you want to try a simple yet powerful app for Jira that has all the features listed above, consider OKR for Jira.

Have a look at how it compares with other Jira OKR apps:

FeaturesOKR for JiraUpraiseOKR BoardAlly OKRsfor Jira*
Transparent AlignmentYesYesYesYes
Shows History and Allows CommentsYesNoNoNo
Links Jira Issues to OKRsYesYesNoYes
Separates OKRs from CompensationYesNoYesYes
Automatic Progress UpdatesYesYesYesYes
No Additional Tools RequiredYesYesYesNo
Atlassian Gold Solution PartnerYesNoNoNo
Price$1/user/mo.$2.5/user/mo.$1.5/user/mo.$7/user/mo.
*Jira plugin that can be added with software subscription

In OKR for Jira, you can transparently align your company and team OKRs by setting nested OKRs that illustrate priorities.

It’s also easy to link Jira issues to Objectives and Key Results, and set linked issues to automatically update progress.

OKR for Jira is designed for agile teams working together and is not linked to employee compensation or performance review. It’s easy to use with no extra tools required!

Below, you can see Objectives and Key Results at different levels, along with the progress for each one. Everyone using Jira can easily see how their completed issues are linked to the OKR progress.

Screengrab of Nested OKRs in Jira App
View OKRs at different levels along with the status of each.

OKR for Jira is also more affordable than stand-alone software or other OKR apps.

It’s free for 30 days so you can see if it’s right for your company and teams. Try it now!

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