Achieving Cross-Team Alignment: Best Practices for Synchronizing OKRs Team Published: 05 Jun 2024 Updated: 09 Jun 2024
Team alignment

One of the most valuable attributes of the Objectives and Key Results prioritization framework – and why we’re so thrilled that we’ve incorporated OKRs into the platform – is how effectively it can help you bring together different departments across your company to work productively toward shared big-picture goals.

Most of the other prioritization frameworks you’ve heard of – weighted scoring, the MoSCoW method, RICE, etc. – are designed primarily to evaluate product-specific objectives. And these frameworks are great when your product team is working internally on prioritizing plans for features, new market segments, or other plans for your products themselves.

OKRs, by contrast, are designed to help you aim for broader business objectives. In fact, the methodology’s earliest users, including Google, often called them “Big Hairy Audacious Goals.” And because achieving these business objectives will require help from other teams and departments, this is an ideal prioritization framework to use when you need to pull together a cross-functional team of contributors from across your company.

Before we review the best practices for creating a successful cross-team alignment around your OKRs, let’s briefly review the basics of the framework and what a real-world example might look like.


A Useful Definition of OKRs

The Objectives and Key Results (OKR) framework is an approach for setting an ambitious big-picture goal (the Objective) and evaluating your success or failure in achieving it within a specific time frame according to a few quantifiable metrics (the Key Results).

A simple template many teams use to build their OKRs looks like this:

“We will _____________ as measured by _________________.”

                                     (Objective)                                 (3 to 5 Key Results)

 (For a more detailed discussion, read our recent blog: How to prioritize your OKRs.)


An example of a cross-team OKR

 Let’s say you’re the Product Manager for a B2B software company, and your team is ready to launch a new product. Here’s an OKR you might set.


“Make a name for this product in our market (within the first four months after launch).”


Remember, this big hairy audacious goal will require a collaborative effort from key departments across your organization, so we will establish Key Results for each of these teams.

 Marketing Key Results:

  • Get 2,000 sales-qualified leads to complete the contact form on our product page.
  • Get 1,000 sales-qualified leads to start the free trial

PR Key Results:

  • Get coverage in 4 of the 7 major media outlets in our industry.

Sales Key Results:

  • Close 100 subscribers
  • Develop a pipeline with 200 additional opportunities


Note: Some teams create a specific time window for each of the Key Results. You might prefer that in a case such as the one above, because each team might want to set their own internal timeframes for progress. As long as every Key Result fits within the broader deadline for the Objective – in this case, four months post-launch – it’s okay to set different timelines for these different metrics.

 Now let’s discuss the processes and tools you’ll want both to establish your OKRs and to keep your whole cross-functional team aligned and moving toward achieving them.

5 Best Practices for Cross-Team OKR Success

 Best practice 1:
Make the process collaborative from the beginning. 

As a product team, you shouldn’t try to establish your OKRs in a vacuum. By definition, the success of these big goals will require the involvement of other departments in your company. So, you’ll need their input in determining both the scope of the objective and the specific metrics to evaluate its success.

Bring in representatives from all teams that will own responsibility for a Key Result, and work with those teams to determine reasonable (achievable, but ambitious) success metrics. 

Making this process collaborative, and acknowledging each group’s expertise in their own area, will make your cross-functional team feel much more like a real team where everyone has strategic input.

 Best practice 2:
Vet proposed Key Results against the strategic needs of the project.

 Having just made the case for making this goal-setting process collaborative, we now want to add an important caveat.

 Yes, each team can and should propose its own Key Results, and they should also have input into any Key Results your product team proposes for them. But this does not mean you must defer to each team or accept whatever metrics they suggest.

Remember, OKRs are designed to help guide your company to success in reaching a big goal. Ultimately, your product team is setting that business objective. If you feel strongly about a specific Key Result, you should take the lead and try to persuade the rest of the cross-functional team why they should follow.

For example, imagine that for its Key Result, Marketing proposes the following:

“Drive 10,000 leads to the contact form.”

Nope. That’s not enough. Why? Because all “leads” are not equally valuable. Some will be of no value at all.

So, you might instead propose the following for Marketing:

“Drive 1,500 sales-qualified leads to the contact form.”

 Now we’re getting somewhere! As we’re confident you’ll be able to articulate to Marketing, their real metric should be delivering valuable leads, not just leads. And if that means only 15% of their original proposed number, so be it.

Pro tip: In this case, the marketing team might also want to develop its own internal KPI to achieve this Key Result. For example, maybe they’ll determine that they need 10,000 raw leads that they can vet and filter to achieve the 1,500 SQLs they’re committing to.

Our advice is to help each team figure out what if any internal KPIs they can set to monitor their progress at achieving the final Key Result you’ve agreed to.

 Best practice 3:
Meet regularly with the cross-functional team.

The goal here is to keep your cross-functional team aligned and working toward your shared big-picture objective. One great way to make sure everyone stays on track and steering in the right direction is to communicate regularly as a team.

Setting a regular meeting schedule – say, once a week for an efficient, agenda-driven discussion – is also a valuable strategy for uncovering any issues or insights as soon as possible that could affect the project’s success.

One thing to keep in mind when running these meetings is that they should be collaborative and supportive. If you discover that your Sales team isn’t yet hitting the numbers you had thought they would at this point in the OKR’s time frame, the answer will be to collaborate on how to help those reps – not to criticize. Maybe Product and Marketing can partner to whip up a new case study or demo video for the reps to use in their presentation.

Treat these cross-team meetings as opportunities for helping each other, and you’ll find your team members bringing their A-games. 

Best practice 4:
Make updating OKR metrics easy for all teams.

 One common challenge cross-functional teams face when they take on a large collaborative project and then meet regularly to share their progress is that it often takes each team hours to update their presentations or data displays to share in these meetings.

If you’re working hard toward a big, audacious goal, you don’t want members of your cross-functional team wasting their time on these manual data-entry tasks.

The answer is to make sure your various teams can connect the tools they use to track progress, or at least that they have simpler ways of updating the other members on their progress.

For example, if you’re using a product management platform to track your big strategic goals, you’ll want the other teams helping you reach your OKRs – sales, marketing, etc. – to be able to sync their apps with your platform, so you can easily track their progress.

That means, for example, that you’ll want a product management software solution that integrates with Salesforce or Zendesk, so as your sales reps notch new customers, you receive those updates.

Similarly, you’ll want a product management platform that integrates with Slack or MS Teams so that it’s easy to share progress updates with Marketing or the PR team.


Best practice 5:
Conduct a post-mortem after each OKR initiative.

Finally, at the close of each OKR’s time window, you should bring together all the cross-team members who were part of this effort and discuss what worked, what didn’t, and what they learned.

Ideally, you’ll be establishing and working toward new OKRs all the time, so the more knowledge and insights you can gain from each of these initiatives, the more your team will be able to streamline its efforts on achieving the next big, hairy, audacious goal you set for your business. 

Bonus tip: Keep an eye out for the almost-here OKR solution. This new environment in our end-to-end software platform will let your product team set OKRs, connect them to your strategic roadmaps, capacity planning, feedback portal, and to the many built-in integrations that will make it easier than ever to collaborate on OKRs with your cross-functional teams.

In the meantime..

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