July 23, 2020

OKRs vs. KPIs with examples

Marilyn Napier
Marilyn Napier

If you’re looking at shifting from a traditional KPI (key performance indicator) and metric-based system to an OKR (objectives and key results) goal management system, you may be wondering how to get started and how to differentiate your KPIs from OKRs.

OKRs vs KPIS: Key Differences

For starters, OKRs don’t replace KPIs, they complement and utilize them. KPIs correspond to the detailed work within an organization that facilitates the delivery of their projects. OKRs are the major elements of the corporate strategy that need to be accomplished to deliver the mission and vision consistent with the values.

For example, there are numerous KPIs that track the development team’s progress toward a specific product release. While all of them are important to deliver the product, what is important to the corporate strategy is the actual product delivery milestone. That milestone would roll up to a specific key result for the objective of a product launch. This is what matters to the success of the company, and is the event with which marketing, sales, and support need to align their deliverables.

At the same time, the sales and customer success teams want to achieve a particular objective of 98% customer satisfaction or 1% turnover. They may have as one of their KPIs to do QBRs and/or customer surveys.  Planning and executing those may entail multiple intermediate KPIs, but the actual completion milestone would roll up to a key result that supports the corporate customer satisfaction objective.

The goal is to enable executive management to efficiently manage, and clearly understand the progress towards, achieving their key objectives by viewing a concise set of information (OKRs), rather than a large, complex stream of data (KPIs).

If you’re finding that KPIs and key results are overlapping, remember that a key result is an outcome, and a KPI is a measurement.

O‍KRs vs KPIs

OKRs are different from KPIs because they are: 

  • Ambitious
  • Measurable
  • Transparent
  • Controllable

OKRs aren’t: 

  • Unrealistic or ambiguous
  • Task lists
  • General action you plan to take
  • Overly specific to be constraining 

Learn about red flags to watch for when rolling out an OKR program here

KPIs are different from OKRs because they are: 

  • A measurement that gauges performance
  • Can roll up to a key result

KPIs aren’t: 

  • An outcome

OKR vs KPI Examples

Sales OKR example: 

Objective: Increase sales funnel by 35% by Q4

Key Results

  • Number of salespersons increased by 2.5 times by Q2
  • Monthly 12,000 active prospects in sales funnel
  • Daily 30 lead conversions

Objective: Increase nationwide reach of product by 35% by Q4

Key Results

  • Distribution channel expanded to become 2nd largest in the nation
  • Sales expanded to 1 new state every month
  • E-commerce website created to expand the reach of product

See More: OKR Examples

Sales KPI examples: 

  • Monthly sales growth
  • Visitor-to-lead conversion rate
  • Sales cycle length 

Marketing OKR example:  

Objective: Become No. 1 standalone goal management product by 2020

Key Results

  • Number of MQLs increased by 1,500 per month
  • Revenue increased at CAGR of 42% every quarter
  • Increase market reach by 35%

Marketing KPIs: 

  • Landing page conversions
  • Cost of customer acquisition
  • Website traffic
  • Blog post visits

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