How to set OKRs effectively for your SaaS startup?


OKRs are not a secret now; companies like Google have used them successfully and even made their OKR framework public. Using an OKR Software will only yield its benefits when the OKRs are structured correctly. If not, you may face poor employee engagement, bad team alignment, and people operating in silos. All these  situations are the last things you need for an early-stage SaaS startup.

You usually don’t have a fully developed product and market fit at this stage. If your team does not perform well, decent business growth seems too far away. But we have seen companies get out of the bad state quickly. Focusing on the right priorities and using OKRs effectively can help bridge the gap between strategy and execution, leading to consistent growth of the business.

Effective OKRs for SaaS Startup

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Why do OKRs not work for your team?

OKRs were first implemented at Intel by Andy Grove (CEO at that time). It was not an immediate success, but it took a lot of experimenting.

The team was skeptical of the OKR methodology, but it eventually worked. It required commitment from the top to bottom people of the company.

Here are some possible reasons why OKRs did not work for your team:

  • Not creating the right set of goals. They may be unrealistic or not focused on priorities.
  • Leaders and employees do not believe in this methodology and don’t engage in the process.
  • Employees don’t understand the framework fully.
  • You do not involve everyone in the goal-setting process.
  • No progress tracking. OKRs are not revised regularly in check-ins.
  • Doing everything rapidly without taking time to adapt.
  • Not using the right tools.

Five tips for leveraging OKR management at your SaaS startup

Competition at the startup level looks scary. It’s been like do or die lately.

Many startups are being funded more than ever, but still, only a few are growing fast and generating enough profits.

Employees at startups usually work in a fast-paced environment, and you would instead succeed by enabling your team than going the traditional management way.

1. Take sufficient time to assign OKRs

If you keep changing the goals, people will lose clarity on their roles and disengage. Whatever startup you are working on must follow the appropriate process to set final OKRs for a cycle.

Here are the helpful steps you can follow to give sufficient time for this process:

  • Focus on the few top-line objectives for the business first. Find out the most important priorities for the next three to six months.
  • Articulate the above goals with clear messaging throughout the organization and make sure everyone understands them.
  • Move out to assign goals to team members by involving them in the process.
  • It’s better to set quarterly goals considering today’s fast-paced markets.
  • KRs should focus on both the quantity and quality of the work. You cannot ignore other vital aspects of the business while looking at ambitious outcomes.

2. Make OKRs clear

Setting goals carefully and ensuring every team member understands them is essential. Your employees must understand why you choose the given objectives for the business so that they can align them with their job.

Give people space and time to adapt to the framework. Set clear time frames that promote productivity and clarity in roles.

Choose only three to five company-level OKRs for a quarter. This helps the team do things with great focus.


It’s been proven that public goals are more likely to be attained than secret goals. Create a system that lets everyone on the team see each other’s objectives. And for a small team, you don’t even have to ask; you keep things open as the sky. It boosts active collaboration among the team members.

3. Enable your team for high performance

The high-performing teams take charge of completing the set goals.

They don’t need a leader standing behind their desks to finish the work.

Embrace strategy

You set the goals, but you need a plan to get there, right?

Let the team use their expertise and facilitate agile collaboration at work to make their respective strategies. Be the leader they want you to be and aid them in the process.

Build accountability and give them space

You build accountability by making them realize their responsibilities toward achieving their individual goals. Skip micromanagement and give them room to be productive.

Some other helpful practices are recognizing achievements, tracking progress, promoting employee satisfaction, enabling constant communication, etc.

4. Boost alignment

Once you set the goals and objectives, ensure everyone can connect their OKRs to the company’s.

Help your employees tie their tasks and responsibilities to the organization’s vision and top-line objectives. Alignment is a significant feature of high-performing teams. Make sure that the OKRs are carefully set and stay transparent. Even the most junior workers must be able to see each leader’s OKRs.

5. Adopting continuous performance management

All the efforts and goal-setting are useless if you don’t reflect on the progress and optimize performance. Tracking is an indispensable part of the goal-setting framework. How else are you going to find out the issues, right? For a SaaS startup, continuous performance review can be deciding growth factor.

Does getting OKR for SaaS business interests you as well? Reach out to us here for more information or proficient guidance regarding the OKR management framework.

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Gaurav Sabharwal


Gaurav is the CEO of JOP (Joy of Performing), an OKR and high-performance enabling platform. With almost two decades of experience in building businesses, he knows what it takes to enable high performance within a team and engage them in the business. He supports organizations globally by becoming their growth partner and helping them build high-performing teams by tackling issues like lack of focus, unclear goals, unaligned teams, lack of funding, no continuous improvement framework, etc. He is a Certified OKR Coach and loves to share helpful resources and address common organizational challenges to help drive team performance. Read More

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