OKR VS KPI: What’s The Difference?

Insight 02-11-2023

In the world of performance management and goal-setting, two acronyms frequently come up: OKR vs KPI.

While they might seem similar at first glance, OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) serve distinct purposes and have different methodologies.

Understanding the differences between OKRs and KPIs is crucial for organizations looking to effectively measure and improve their performance.

Whether you’re a team leader, a product manager, or a simply a profesisonal looking to optimize your personal performance, the insights provided in this comprehensive guide will serve as your compass in the complex realm of goal-setting and performance measurement.

Table of contents:

What are OKRs?

What are KPIs?

OKR Examples

KPI Examples

OKR vs KPI: Which one should I use?

KPI & OKR software

Let’s get started!

What are OKRs?

Objectives and Key Results, commonly referred to as OKRs, are a goal-setting and performance management framework that has gained significant popularity in the business world.

Originally conceived by Andy Grove at Intel, OKRs were later popularized by companies like Google.

This approach has since been adopted by organizations of all sizes, from startups to Fortune 500 companies, due to its effectiveness in driving focus, alignment, and measurable results.


Objectives in OKRs represent the aspirational and qualitative goals that an organization, department, or team aims to achieve.

These objectives serve as the North Star, guiding everyone towards a common purpose.

Besides being attainable, objectives should be inspiring, motivating, and provide a clear sense of direction. In essence, they answer the question of “what” needs to be accomplished.

Key Results (KRs)

Complementing the objectives, Key Results (KRs) are specific, measurable, and time-bound milestones or metrics that indicate progress towards achieving the stated objectives.

They help you measure success by answering the question of “how” exactly progress will be tracked and evaluated.

KRs are designed to be concrete and actionable, making it evident whether the desired outcome has been accomplished.

Why OKRs matter

The beauty of OKRs lies in their simplicity and flexibility: they are typically set for a defined period, often quarterly or annually, and are meant to be reviewed and revised as necessary.

The adaptability of these goal-setting frameworks allows organizations to pivot and adjust their goals in response to changing circumstances, market dynamics, or strategic shifts.

OKRs also encourage transparency and alignment within organizations.

When each team and individual has a clear set of objectives and KRs, it becomes easier to see how their efforts contribute to the overarching goals of the company, hence encouraging a sense of purpose and helping teams prioritize their work effectively.

What are KPIs?

Key Performance Indicators, often abbreviated as KPIs, are a fundamental component of performance measurement and management within organizations.

Unlike Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), which are primarily focused on setting goals and tracking progress toward those goals, KPIs serve a different but equally crucial role in assessing performance and guiding decision-making.

Quantifiable metrics

KPIs are, by definition, quantitative metrics.

They provide organizations with a way to measure performance objectively, often using numerical values or percentages.

These metrics are chosen strategically to reflect critical aspects of an organization’s performance.

Performance evaluation

While OKRs are used to set goals and objectives, KPIs are used to evaluate and assess performance against those goals.

KPIs are tied directly to an organization’s strategic objectives and are used to determine whether those objectives are being met.

In essence, they help answer the question: “How well are we performing?”

Specific to different domains

KPIs can vary widely across industries and functions within an organization.

For example, sales teams may use KPIs like monthly revenue, conversion rates, and customer acquisition cost, while customer support teams may track KPIs like response time and customer satisfaction scores.

Each department or team may have its own set of KPIs tailored to its specific goals and responsibilities.

Long-term measurement

KPIs are typically used for long-term performance assessment.

They are often tracked continuously or periodically, such as monthly or quarterly, to monitor progress and trends over time.

The historical data gathered from KPI checkins can provide valuable insights into performance patterns and areas that require improvement.

Strategic decision-making

KPIs play a vital role in guiding strategic decision-making.

When organizations track KPIs consistently, they can identify areas of strength and weakness and adjust their strategies accordingly.

For instance, if a KPI related to customer satisfaction shows a declining trend, it can works as a baseline for changes in customer service processes or strategies.

Alignment with organizational goals

KPIs should always align with an organization’s overall goals and objectives.

They serve as a direct link between strategic intentions and performance outcomes.

When KPIs are well-defined and aligned, they provide a clear path for organizations to monitor progress toward achieving their mission and vision.

OKR examples

To gain a deeper understanding of how Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) work in practice, let’s explore some concrete examples across various business contexts.

These examples will illustrate how organizations use OKRs to set ambitious objectives and measure the progress of their initiatives through key results.

Example 1: Company-wide OKRs

Objective: Achieve Sustainable Growth in the Next Year

Key results:

  1. Increase annual revenue by 15% compared to the previous year.
  2. Expand the customer base by acquiring 20,000 new customers.
  3. Reduce customer churn rate to less than 5%.
  4. Launch two new product lines within the next six months.

In this scenario, the company’s objective is to achieve sustainable growth. The key results provide specific, measurable targets that indicate whether the company is making progress towards this overarching goal.

Example 2: Departmental OKRs (marketing team)

Objective: Enhance Brand Visibility and Engagement

Key results:

  1. Increase website traffic by 25% within the quarter.
  2. Achieve a 10% growth in social media followers.
  3. Launch two successful influencer marketing campaigns.
  4. Boost email open rates by 15% in the next three months.

Here, the marketing department has set objectives related to enhancing brand visibility and engagement. The key results are designed to measure various aspects of their performance, such as web traffic, social media growth, and email marketing effectiveness.

Example 3: Team-level OKRs (product development)

Objective: Deliver a High-Quality Software Release

Key results:

  1. Achieve a 95% code test coverage for the upcoming release.
  2. Reduce the number of reported software bugs by 20%.
  3. Deliver all user stories within the sprint timeline for the next three cycles.
  4. Receive a customer satisfaction rating of 4.5 out of 5 for the new release.

In this case, the product development team’s objective is to deliver a high-quality software release. The key results focus on specific aspects of software development, such as code quality, bug reduction, and meeting project timelines.

Example 4: Individual OKRs (sales representative)

Objective: Exceed Sales Targets for the Quarter

Key results:

  1. Achieve 120% of the quarterly sales target.
  2. Secure contracts with three new high-value clients.
  3. Increase upsell revenue by 10% through existing client relationships.

Here, an individual sales representative has set their objective to exceed quarterly sales targets. The key results specify quantitative targets related to revenue, client acquisition, and upselling.

These examples highlight how OKRs can be customized to suit different levels of an organization, from company-wide objectives to departmental, team-level, and even individual goals.

OKRs provide a clear structure for setting objectives and measuring progress, promoting alignment and transparency throughout the organization. They empower individual teams to work collaboratively toward achieving ambitious yet attainable goals.

KPI examples

To gain a comprehensive understanding of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and how they function in various business domains, let’s explore practical examples across different areas.

These examples illustrate how KPIs are used to measure and evaluate performance effectively.

Sales KPIs:

  1. Monthly sales revenue:
    • KPI: To track the total revenue generated each month.
    • Measurement: Monthly revenue in dollars.
    • Purpose: This KPI provides a clear picture of sales performance, helping organizations assess their revenue generation.
  1. Sales conversion rate:
    • KPI: To measure the percentage of qualified leads that convert into paying customers.
    • Measurement: Conversion rate (%) = (Number of customers acquired / Number of leads) * 100.
    • Purpose: Conversion rate KPI helps sales teams gauge the efficiency of their sales processes and the quality of leads.
  1. Customer acquisition cost (CAC):
    • KPI: To assess the cost of acquiring each new customer.
    • Measurement: CAC = Total Sales and Marketing Expenses / Number of New Customers Acquired.
    • Purpose: CAC KPI helps organizations evaluate the efficiency of their customer acquisition efforts and optimize their marketing spend.

Employee performance KPIs:

  1. Employee satisfaction score:
    • KPI: To gauge employee happiness and engagement.
    • Measurement: Employee satisfaction scores from regular surveys.
    • Purpose: This KPI helps HR departments monitor employee morale and identify areas for improvement.
  1. Average time to fill a job vacancy:
    • KPI: To evaluate recruitment efficiency.
    • Measurement: The average number of days it takes to fill a job vacancy.
    • Purpose: Tracking this KPI helps HR teams streamline their hiring processes.
  1. Employee turnover rate:
    • KPI: To monitor employee retention.
    • Measurement: Employee turnover rate (%) = (Number of Employees Who Left / Average Number of Employees) * 100.
    • Purpose: This KPI helps organizations understand employee retention challenges and develop strategies to retain talent.

Marketing KPIs:

  1. Customer lifetime value (CLV):
    • KPI: To estimate the total revenue a business can expect from a customer over their entire relationship.
    • Measurement: Average purchase value x Average purchase frequency x Average customer lifespan.
    • Purpose: CLV is a crucial KPI for marketing teams as it directly relates to customer retention. It helps organizations understand the long-term value of their customer base and assess strategies for retaining customers over a certain period of time.
  1. Click-through rate (CTR):
    • KPI: To measure the effectiveness of online advertising campaigns.
    • Measurement: CTR (%) = (Number of Clicks / Number of Impressions) * 100.
    • Purpose: CTR helps evaluate the performance of online ads and the relevance of ad content.
  1. Return on investment (ROI):
    • KPI: To assess the profitability of marketing campaigns.
    • Measurement: ROI (%) = [(Revenue from Marketing Campaign – Marketing Cost) / Marketing Cost] * 100.
    • Purpose: ROI KPI helps marketing departments determine the effectiveness of their investments and optimize their budget allocation.

These examples demonstrate the versatility of KPIs across different business functions.

KPIs are selected based on an organization’s specific goals and objectives, providing a quantitative framework to assess performance, make data-driven decisions, and continuously improve processes.

Whether it’s in sales, HR, marketing, or any other area, KPIs play a pivotal role in measuring success and driving strategic decisions.

OKRs vs KPIs: Which one should I use?

Deciding between Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is a critical choice for organizations seeking to manage and measure their performance effectively.

Each framework has its distinct characteristics and applications, and understanding their differences is essential for aligning them with your organization’s goals and needs.

When to use OKRs:

  • Setting aspirational goals: OKRs are ideal when your organization needs to set aspirational, qualitative objectives that inspire and motivate teams. They focus on the “what” and help define the direction your organization should take.
  • Balancing qualitative and quantitative: OKRs incorporate both qualitative objectives and quantitative key results, striking a balance between vision and measurable progress. This combination helps ensure that teams stay inspired while also tracking outcomes objectively.
  • Adaptability and flexibility: OKRs are well-suited for organizations that require adaptability and agility in their goal-setting methods and processes. They are often set for shorter periods (e.g. within the next quarter) and can be adjusted in response to changing circumstances, market shifts, or new opportunities.
  • Alignment and inspiration: OKRs are effective at aligning teams and individuals with overarching company objectives. They inspire collaboration and a shared sense of purpose, making them particularly useful for organizations with dynamic and innovative cultures.
  • Short to medium-term goals: OKRs are typically associated with short to medium-term objectives, making them suitable for organizations that need to set ambitious goals within specific timeframes.

When to use KPIs:

  1. Quantitative performance measurement: KPIs are the go-to framework for quantifying and assessing performance in specific areas. They provide clear, numerical metrics that answer the question of “how well are we performing?”
  2. Long-term strategic evaluation: KPIs are often associated with long-term strategic goals and objectives. They are continuously monitored to ensure that performance aligns with strategic objectives, making them valuable for organizations with well-established, long-term, and ambitious goals.
  3. Stability and consistency: KPIs tend to remain stable over time, offering consistent measurements that are essential for long-term tracking and evaluation.
  4. Functional areas and departments: KPIs can vary significantly based on the department or team’s function. For example, sales teams may have sales-related KPIs, while HR departments may focus on employee-related KPIs. This way, every department can each have their own set of KPIs tailored to smart goals and specific responsibilities.
  5. Data-driven decision-making: KPIs are crucial for making data-driven decisions. They help organizations understand their performance in relation to strategic objectives, identify areas that need improvement, and optimize strategies accordingly.

Choosing between OKR vs KPI:

The choice between OKRs and KPIs should align with your organization’s specific needs and goals:

  • Use OKRs when you want to set aspirational, high-level objectives that guide the organization’s direction. OKRs are effective at fostering adaptability and aligning teams with a shared vision.
  • Use KPIs when you need precise, quantitative metrics to evaluate ongoing performance against strategic objectives. KPIs provide the data-driven insights required for continuous improvement and decision-making.

Using both OKRs and KPIs together:

In many cases, organizations choose to use both OKRs and KPIs in tandem.

OKRs set the big-picture intentions and aspirational objectives, while KPIs provide the day-to-day metrics needed to monitor performance within teams and departments.

This combination allows for a comprehensive approach to performance management, encompassing both high-level goals and specific, quantifiable measurements.

Ultimately, the choice between OKRs and KPIs, or the decision to use both, should be guided by your organization’s performance management strategy and its specific objectives.

By leveraging the strengths of a KPI or OKR framework, organizations can optimize their approach to achieving both aspirational objectives and measurable results.

KPI & OKR Software

When it comes to effectively implementing performance management frameworks like Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), having the right software tools at your disposal can make all the difference.

These tools streamline the process, making goal-setting, tracking, and measurement more efficient.

One notable solution in the project management software landscape is PM3, brought to you by BestOutcome.

PM3 stands out as an award-winning PPM (Portfolio, Program, and Project Management) tool designed with a clear focus on delivering results. It is tailored to organizations of various sizes, whether they are running a few projects, large transformation programs, or managing complex portfolios.

Key features of PM3:

  • Clarity and simplicity: PM3 boasts a decluttered interface that displays only the screens and information relevant to each user’s role. This design approach significantly reduces complexity and enhances user adoption.
  • Resource management: Effective resource management is crucial for project success. PM3 simplifies this process, allowing project managers to request resources and resource managers to allocate them efficiently, ensuring the right mix and numbers of resources for your portfolio.
  • Dashboards: PM3 provides visually appealing dashboards that can be configured and customized to your needs. These dashboards are not only on-screen but can also be printed as reports, making them valuable tools for executives and portfolio managers.
  • Team collaboration: PM3 is built to foster collaboration within project teams. Team members can choose between using PM3 itself or the PM3Team app, available on both Google Play and the App Store. Updates made on the app are seamlessly synchronized with PM3, enhancing overall team productivity.

While exploring software solutions for implementing OKRs and KPIs, both private businesses and public organisations often find PM3 to be a valuable ally.

Its comprehensive features and user-friendly interface align well with the principles of goal setting and performance measurement, making it a solid choice for organizations seeking clarity and success in their projects.

For more info about how PM3 can help your organization set OKRs and KPIS, schedule a demo now or contact us at sales@bestoutcome.com

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