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Your Guide to Leading an eCommerce Team with OKRs

Jess Peterson
April 3, 2020
eCommerce

Competition for companies is ever-increasing. If you want your business to stay at the forefront of your industry you must be bold, think outside of the box, and implement innovative strategies that help your organization grow and scale. This is your guide to preparing to implement an OKR (Objective and Key Results) Strategy with data integration as well as everything you need to know about getting your eCommerce team started with effective OKRs. 

Beginning with Data Integration

Before we dive deep into the world of OKRs, how they work, and the best ways to implement them, let's start from the very beginning. The key to making sure your OKR strategy is successful is to address how your company handles its data. A very common issue plaguing companies is data silos.

What are Data Silos and Why are They Bad for Business?

A data silo is an inability or unwillingness to share data between different departments within a company. The cause can either stem from a silo mentality or a structural data silo. 

Silo mentality - Departments do not work cohesively together and are either reluctant to share data or refuse. The root cause of the silo mentality is how staff from different departments work together.

Structural data silo - This type of a data silo is the result of not having adequate tools and storage solutions to either share data efficiently or for departments to be able to retrieve the information needed from another department. 

Neither type of data silo is desirable. It results in reduced productivity and efficiency within your company because your staff can't get the information they need when they need it. Employees must save their own copies of important data which can take up significant amounts of storage on the company server and become quite costly. Since it is difficult to see all parts of the data at one time, data silos decrease the credibility of the information.

Data Integration is an Easy Solution

Data integration is the automatic retrieval of data from different sources and combining it on one easy platform. The main advantage is that every team member from any department can access the data needed from a single platform at any time. This means your employees will spend less time tracking down the data they need and more time using the data to make forward progress.

Additional benefits include:

• Increased data quality
• Comprehensive insights that allow more informed business decisions
• Increased productivity and efficiency
• The ability to better collaborate within and between departments

Data integration platforms such as Yaguara allow companies to connect their favorite tools such as Google, Asana, MailChimp, YouTube, Facebook, etc. and is a crucial component of your OKR strategy.

What are OKRs? 

The use of OKRs is a strategy that involves setting hard-to-reach goals in an effort to continuously propel your company forward. When executed properly, OKRs are effective at defining priorities and making sure each level of the company is aligned, focused, and moving in the same direction. 

Benefits of OKRs

Incorporating OKRs into your eCommerce business plan is a great way to bring unity within your company as well as: 

• Encourage your team to be focused and disciplined on the goals at hand
• Establish clear methods for determining progress and success
• Increase effective communication
• Allow for more effective collaborative efforts within teams and between departments

How Often Do Companies Set OKRs? 

Most companies choose to set OKRs quarterly and then evaluate each OKR at the end of the quarter and set news OKRs based on the results. However, if it fits your business, annual OKRs can be used as well. It really is a matter of preference and what will work best for your company. OKRs do allow for flexibility. If you choose one time-frame and it ends not being a fit for your company, you can always change the time-frame down the road. 

How are OKRs structured?

Each OKR will have an objective and then no more than 4 key results. The objective is the overall goal you are trying to achieve. Each key result outlines how you are going to reach this goal. Having more than 4 key results makes the objective overwhelming and can lead to a lack of focus. let's take a look at an example of an OKR. 

Marketing Team OKR Examples

Objective: Increase Social Media Engagement by 20%

Key Result #1: Determine the top two most popular social media sites for our target audience

Key Result #2: Engage in ten social media conversations involving prominent industry leaders

Key Result #3: Respond to social media messages within two hours

Key Result #4: Gain 1,000 additional Facebook followers

Notice that the main goal is to increase social engagement. Each key result is a means to achieve the main objective. 

OKRs are Set at 3 Different Levels Within a Company

OKRs have a trickle-down effect and should be set at three different levels within your company. 

Company/Organizational: Broad OKRs that focus on goals for the entire company

Team: These goals focus on the goals for that specific team or department such as the marketing team or the sales team

Individual: OKRs that are specific to each individual's goals within the company. These goals should be in line with their team's OKRs. 

Even though there are three different levels of OKRs, they should all connect and support each other throughout the company. You will have multiple OKRs at each level. As a rule of thumb, you should have no more than five OKRs for each level.

Characteristics of Good OKRs

Even though the details of OKRs will vary from company to company, there are 4 characteristics of an effective OKR.

1. Hard-to-Reach Goals - You should be nervous that you won't meet the OKRs you set. Otherwise, they are too easy and defeats the purpose of the strategy

2. Measurable - You must be able to quantify the results such a number, percentage, or even a deadline

3. Public - OKRs should be made available to the entire company. This makes sure that everyone is on the same page and holds each individual, team, and company accountable.

4. Graded - At the end of the set time period, OKRs should be graded to determine the success or progress of the goal

How to Grade OKRs

OKRs are graded on a scale of 0 to 1, with 0 meaning you didn't even come close to achieving the OKR. 1 means you met or exceeded the OKR. If you are consistently receiving 1s, this is not a good thing. It means that your OKRs are too easy. The purpose of grading is to determine whether you should keep pursuing your OKRs or redirect and attack from a different direction. 

It is important to understand that the grade of OKRs should not be used for employee evaluation, raises, promotions, or punishments. It is purely a means of measuring the effectiveness of the goal and the steps that need to be taken moving forward.

6 Tips to Leading Your Team Through OKRs

The first step to implementing an OKR strategy in your eCommerce company is to create company OKRs. Once you've decided what the overall goals for the entire business should be, you can then begin working with your staff to develop team and individual OKRs that support the company OKRs.  

1. Determine the Primary Focus of the Team - Sit down with your team or department and discuss the big picture of where you're headed. For instance, if you're working on OKRs for your marketing team, maybe you're trying to establish an online presence or rebrand. 

2. Set a Time Frame - Although both annual and quarterly time frames can be set, it is highly recommended to set OKRs quarterly, especially in a company that experiences changes rather quickly.

3. Determine How Results Will Be Measured -  As mentioned previously, there are different options you can use to measure growth such as numbers, percentages, and deadlines. However, you must make sure that quantitative goals actually measure growth. Percentages tend to be the best way to do this. However, if calculated correctly numbers and due dates can be effective as well. 

4. Create Key Results - Once you have the objective, you can then begin to establish the key results that will help ensure the objective is met. These are very specific and should support the overall objective.

5. Create Individual OKRs - After team or departmental OKRs have been defined and created, it is time to focus on individual OKRs. Individual OKRs should support and work towards meeting team and company OKRs. 

6. Grade OKRs - Once the set time frame has come to an end, it is time to grade the OKRs based on the quantitative measurements set when the OKRs were created. For instance, if your goal was to increase social media following by 50% and you increased it by 25%, then the OKR would receive a grade of 0.5 which is acceptable.

Once the time period has ended and OKRs have been graded, it is time to repeat the process and begin with new and even more challenging OKRs. Each time you begin a new set of OKRs, your business takes a step forward. 

Solve Your Siloed Data Issues and Springboard the Success of Your OKR Strategy

Yaguara is the ultimate data integration platform that solves the data silo issues of eCommerce companies and allows you to implement a successful OKR strategy. Work is more productive, efficient, and enjoyable when you have the information you need when you need it. Yaguara helps eCommerce teams make smarter decisions based on their real-time results. Request a free trial today and see for yourself the Yaguara difference!


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