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Bettercloud Transforms Strategic Planning with Ally.io

“I think we’d be very lost without Ally.io. I don’t think we’d be focused on the right things—that was the pain point which led us to OKRs in the first place. We now feel like we’re rowing in the same boat and rowing in the same direction,. For that reason alone, Ally.io has been immensely impactful for us.” – Michael Matmon, FP&A Manager @ Bettercloud

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From top-down decision-making to turning your team into co-authors

In most organizations, annual goals are set during a one-time, strategic planning meeting. The executive team meets to discuss results, trends and predictive models, and comes out with a set of annual goals that drive operating budgets and planning cycles. For a while, Bettercloud was no different. That is, until Michael Matmon and the finance team believed there could be a better way to document, manage and collaborate on company-wide goals.

Because the finance team is involved in strategic and operational planning, they sit central to the organization, says Matmon, who is FP&A Manager for Bettercloud. That means they were the ideal group to lead process transformation and any associated tech implementations. The team drove Bettercloud’s adoption of OKRs and the Ally.io platform, and Michael and the finance team have been able to drive positive organizational change by supporting company-wide buy-in for new processes, alignment around core objectives and focus on key tasks that support these objectives.

“Goal-setting is no longer happening from the top down; all employees are now part of the goal-setting process and strategic planning process,” Matmon says. “We’re all collectively shaping the future of the organization and that’s creating an intangible value for us. It’s keeping morale and motivation high, and encouraging high performance, which are all things we’re going after as our culture evolves.”

The Bettercloud team officially rolled out Ally.io to the entire organization during last year’s Annual Planning process. CEO David Politis said, “We wrapped up our annual kickoff and I felt the best I’ve ever felt about our alignment to our vision and strategy as a company—partly because of this breadth of participation and co-authorship that we successfully pulled off (31 people participated in strategic planning!), and partly because I have had employees tell me so (“It’s never been more clear to me the long term path we are on; I understand how this year’s results and outcomes put us on that path; and I understand how my work contributes.”)

Escaping “G-Sheet Hell”

Prior to Ally.io, Bettercloud documented all strategic goals, operating budgets and planning cycles using Google Sheets. Documenting, sharing and updating information sitting in disparate documents was time-consuming and confusing. If team members lost track of information or failed to update progress, important updates and status information simply didn’t exist to the rest of the organization.

“Going through this [planning] process for several quarters, it became apparent that we needed a real solution to help tackle this,” Michael says. “We were managing everything out of Google Sheets and it was very disparate in terms of getting people to update statuses and gain that visibility into how we were progressing against our objectives.”

It was also extremely difficult for teams to integrate their strategic objectives with critical planning tools and reporting apps that helped gauge progress, such as Jira and Tableau. “It was clunky, difficult to gain transparency and was consistently falling short,” Michael explains. “We weren’t getting what we wanted. We realized OKRs were the answer and what we were trying to do all along with our original goal-setting process.”

The Bettercloud team rolled out Ally.io as a way to “wrangle” the strategic planning process, provide visibility across the entire organization and keep everyone focused and aligned on those larger strategic goals. Michael led the implementation process, which began with the 10 person executive team. Once they were bought into the value of OKRs and how to use Ally.io to manage those OKR’s, implementation trickled down to approximately 40 senior leaders across the organization. Now, all 300+ employees have a license for Ally.io and are permissioned to use the tool and update OKRs regularly.

Creating a Culture of OKR Champions

As OKR champion, Michael manages all OKRs and is central to the quarterly goal-setting cycle. He makes regular updates in Ally.io and develops a quarterly update document that is sent to the entire organization. He is also the main point of contact for employee questions and concerns, which is helping turn all employees into passionate Ally.io power users.

“We’ve seen amazing adoption and we report on this in company meetings, weekly executive team meetings, and in a quarterly wrap-up presentation that is shared across the entire organization,” Michael says. “This is part of our quarterly all-hands call when we go through financial, strategic and operational performance.”

Michael adds that when employees see executives are invested in the process, they know they’re getting exposure and insight into the planning process. As a result, employees “feel ownership over goals.” “They feel they are part of the strategic planning process. They can see the amazing progress being made because of the shift to OKRs and that has played a critical role in their engagement.”

Because team members use Ally.io integrations with Jira, Tableau and Slack, OKRs are easily embedded into their day-to-day workflows.

“Everyone is checking in and making updates in Ally.io on a weekly basis,” Michael says. “We report those statuses into a KPI deck and that is shared in our weekly executive meetings. People know that and they know that if they’re not making these updates in Ally.io, they could be called out for their statuses.”

Michael explains further that this process doesn’t instill fear in employees. Rather, it holds them accountable and shows that their input does, in fact, make a difference. “The intent is not to catch anyone off guard but to show them that this is the direction we are heading in as a company,” he says. “We want to make sure the entire organization understands how we’re setting and tracking our goals.”

Bringing the Company Together and Looking Towards the Future

Overall, Ally.io has helped Bettercloud save hours of work planning and managing goals, improved transparency and alignment, and encouraged the larger organization to work together to bring the business forward. This proved especially crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic, when employees dispersed from their offices in New York City and Atlanta, and worked from home all around the world.

“Having Ally.io has helped us keep everyone involved in big strategic company goals,” Michael says. “Without this kind of tool, it would be difficult to bring everyone together, looking through the same lens and understanding progress.”

Bettercloud’s success with OKRs is making him even more excited for the future. Ongoing discussions with the Ally.io team have helped drive product development, which shows how OKRs, and the Ally.io platform, can meet evolving business needs.

“It’s been an awesome journey for us internally and working with the Ally.io team. It has blown me away to see all the amazing enhancements that have been made and how the tool has evolved,” Michael notes. “It makes me feel good knowing that Ally.io can help me do my job better as OKR champion and lead admin.”

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