Having a tool was critical in helping us build momentum around both using OKRs as part of our work and embracing a new way of setting goals and strategy.Jordan Blair, Senior Marketing Manager, Elder Research
Elder Research is a data analytics consulting company that leverages data science and artificial intelligence to help businesses solve complex challenges and enable ongoing transformation. But with multiple business units working on different projects, it was challenging to keep all teams working in tandem on the same goals. Committed to creating more alignment and clarity across the organization, they turned to OKRs—or Objectives and Key Results—to set and align the company, business unit and team goals.
Implementing a new process in the office can be challenging, even for an agile company. Upon advice from OKR consultant, Matt Pincombe, Elder Research decided to roll out the OKRs gradually, starting with the leadership team and next-level leaders, before introducing it to the rest of the company to enable an easier adoption.
Jordan Blair, Senior Marketing Manager at Elder Research, spoke of their early days rolling out the OKRs, saying that the team started off low-tech, writing the individual goals down on separate documents before either coming together in meetings or sharing them amongst the team. However, they quickly found that this ad-hoc approach to OKRs created more problems than solved.
Only a select number of people could see the goals—namely the team involved as well as their managers—as OKRs were not being shared openly, leading to overlaps and silos. Business units were only aware of their own OKRs and some top-level strategic goals but not what was happening across the company. Additionally, progress on these goals was only shared during the regular review meetings with management.
This lack of visibility did not suit the company. “We recognized that as the company grew to embrace OKRs as a core part of the strategy, we needed to find a way to view and organize this data more effectively,” said Jordan. So, Elder Research had made it a point to be a transparent organization, citing teamwork as one of its five core behaviors. But without a transparent, central place for people to share and discuss their goals with others, collaborating on OKRs was difficult.
We wanted a tool that was accessible to everyone in the company, from the CEO to the individual business unit leaders and team members, so that everyone could view all the goals set for each cycle.Jordan Blair, Senior Marketing Manager, Elder Research
After the first quarter, Elder Research started looking for a tool that would help them solve their visibility problem. They wanted an easy and secure way to share OKRs quickly and with minimal investment. The tool would also need to grow with the company; the initial pilot team numbered around 30 people, but as adoption increased, over 100 data scientists, engineers, and support staff would then be using the tool.
Since the company was already familiar with the Atlassian ecosystem, specifically with Jira, finding a tool that works in tandem with Jira without requiring an entirely new platform would be the best option. It would allow them to build on their current software suite instead of buying new software that could potentially limit customization and integration.
Matt, who is also the CEO and Founder of Objektiv Solutions, shared how he had helped Elder Research roll out OKRs and how he had landed on Digital Toucan as a solution. “Over the years helping numerous organizations adopt OKRs, I’ve found that a key change management component and critical success factor for adoption was to have a platform that provides easy, straightforward access for everyone on the team,” he said. “I found Digital Toucan’s OKR for Jira on the marketplace and, after receiving an immediate response to my inquiry from the Digital Toucan team and doing some hands-on testing, I knew I had found the right app for Elder Research.”
As a third-party app designed specifically for Jira users, OKR for Jira slotted smoothly on their existing Jira infrastructure and didn’t require additional software. Given their familiarity with Jira features, the team only needed minimal user training to learn the app’s unique features.
The team found it easy to use and intuitive. Instead of sharing multiple documents, team members could access the app right from their individual Jira pages. Team leads would key in their OKRs into the app and assign individual key results to team members who could then use the same app to record their progress as the cycle progressed.
“The app helped us maintain our commitment to transparency as our organization grows,” Jordan said. “We can see how OKRs roll up through the different levels of the organization and we can feel that our work contributes to the overall corporate goals.”
By building on top of their existing Jira infrastructure, Elder Research avoided the headache of an extra tool purchase and rollout. On top of that, the streamlined and focused user experience in OKR for Jira accelerated adoption and we had no issues with usability that I’ve experienced with other platforms.Matt Pincombe, CEO and Founder, Objektiv Research
One of the most prominent outcomes from adopting OKR for Jira is improved company-wide alignment as business units were now privy to each other’s goals and could avoid overlaps.
In addition, the streamlined and focused user experience accelerated adoption as the team could focus on familiarizing themselves with the OKR framework. Best of all, with one common platform to house all the OKRs, teams could now see what the other teams and business units were working towards.
Collaboration between teams also feel more supported and encouraged as team members can turn to the app to keep them on track. Blair talked about how sharing the OKRs meant that teams could collaborate on OKRs, as now team members could offer help or contacts to other teams if they had experience with a particular goal.
Lastly, the tool helped the company stay focused on its strategic goals. As the app was integrated with Jira, it kept the OKRs front of mind for many. The team found the OKR for Jira dashboard, coupled with its filtering capabilities and progress bars, particularly helpful during review meetings. It helped them distill a lot of information so team members could quickly find what they were looking for.
Elder Research had already committed to the OKRs, but adopting OKR for Jira helped them accelerate adoption, open more doors to successful collaboration, and commit to company transparency.