KPI vs OKR: what's the difference

If you're anything like the pinsky team, you enjoy brainstorming, organizing, planning, executing, and making informed data-driven optimizations.

The process begins during annual planning. First, you set goals. Then, execute and report throughout the year. Optimize here and there. Finally, at the end of the year, look back and answer questions.

  • What parts of our plans were successful?

  • What wins can we celebrate?

  • Where can we improve?

  • How do we need to change the process to get there?

Through this intention + process, we enable a data-driven assessment of our overall performance. And, have the accurate, clean data needed to plan meaningful optimizations.

How is the data structured, you ask? KPIs and OKRs.

These values measure progress and opportunity throughout the lifecycle.

What are KPIs?

Key Performance Indicators are measurements that assess how much success a particular activity has had in an organization. These nuggets provide a comparison that can show a change in performance over time (let's move towards your desired goals).

KPIs are quantitative, output-oriented attainable goals. They should be unique to your organization and it's workflows and used as a performance evaluation tool.

Examples of KPI:

What: Increase MQLs by 30% this year. (MQL = marketing qualified leads)

Why: Achieving this target will allow the business to become profitable

How: Hiring additional sales staff, improving existing marketing strategies, adopting a new tool, creating more content, etc.

Who: VP of Marketing is responsible for this metric

When: The KPI will be reviewed quarterly


What is OKR?

Objectives and Key Results is a framework used for defining and tracking objectives and their outcomes. OKRs are ambitious business goals, are qualitative in nature, and are monitored, optimized, and often changed (usually quarterly).

OKRs are growth-oriented and are often used to empower the team and strengthen culture. The objective is defining something you want to accomplish, and the key results are the ways you'll get there! You should have around 2-5 key results per objective.

Example of OKR:

Objective: Become the #1 most-downloaded iOS Productivity App

Key Result 1: Conduct a survey to identify ten most-requested features and launch 5 of the top most-requested features by Dec 15

Key Result 2: Conduct 10 user tests to identify UX issues

Key Result 3: Show at least 50% improvement in satisfaction with UX (via customer survey)

Key Result 4: Earn 200 5-star ratings by Dec 31


Better Together

Combine KPIs and OKRs to support your business and vision. KPIs will provide detailed reports on what works and what doesn't work. OKRs help you stay agile, empower your team, and can help you plan to execute new, cross-departmental business needs.

Here's an easy visual to help you digest:

Whether you choose to use KPIs, OKRs, or both, what's most important is that you're tracking business, team, and project goals. Then, optimizing with that data and always celebrating wins + learning.

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