Viva Goals help companies track their OKRs
Male hand placing a wooden cut circle with check mark on it in the middle of drawn circles over yellow background.

You are what you measure, so you need to make sure that your incentives are getting you the metrics that you really want. The Viva Goals app aims to give employees a clear view of what the business wants them to prioritize, while helping organizations track the projects and OKRs they care about.

What are OKRs?

Objectives and Key Results is a framework for setting clear goals for what you want to achieve, measurable outcomes that will tell you if you are achieving them and initiatives that are supposed to get you there. Objectives are more concrete than a mission statement, the company values or vision, and even the broad priorities of business strategy: they are what the business will focus on in the near term and key results are how you measure if you have reached them.

break priorities into tasks with Viva Goals.
Make company priorities realistic and actionable by breaking them up into objectives key results and projects that will deliver them – credit Microsoft.

In his book, Measure What Matters, Kleiner Perkins chairman John Doerr states that the OKR approach was popularized by Intel CEO Andy Grove in the 1980s. The principles are a good fit for the world of remote work where organizations need to be more deliberate about making it clear what is supposed to be accomplished.

How we work — and track our work — is changing

Employees care more about health, wellbeing and flexibility, they want a sense of purpose and they want to be paid for their impact, rather than just the hours they work, according to the latest Microsoft Work Trend Index. Over half of managers say their leaders are out of touch with employee expectations, and managers feel squeezed between what employees want and what they want.

It’s unclear to employees how specific tasks contribute to the bigger picture of the business or if they should change work priorities when business leaders announce a new initiative.

It’s easier to track progress if you have clear goals and metrics connected to the tools you use to get work done, and it can help deal with the lack of communication between executives and employees about company strategy and performance.

Track and update OKRs while working in other Microsoft apps.
You can track and update OKRs in Viva Goals inside Teams – credit Microsoft

Viva Goals won’t work out what everyone needs to do, but you can use it to make the way your organization sets goals and monitors progress more rigorous, with a hierarchy of objectives for the business overall and individual business areas and teams, and a handful of key results that you believe will The objectives for teams and individuals that have measurable key results that track specific, focused efforts to deliver an objective are more important than the big-picture initiatives that business leaders can still have. It is possible to mix committed andaspirational goals, making it clear which ones have clear, actionable plans and which are things the business is hoping to see but isn’t depending on.

Making metrics more visible

By default, objectives are visible to everyone in the organization so they can see what is happening and what is not happening. Managers and business leaders still follow progress against the goals despite Viva Goals reminding the owners to check in regularly to track how they are doing.

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Integrate data from across the organization

Many of the tasks that deliver key results will already be tracked in other systems, but the people that work with them will not be able to see the details. The progress that is tracked in the project management system is only seen by the people managing and working on the project. Business leaders who take the time to look at developer tools can’t easily see how those metrics contribute to business priorities.

Instead of a weekly status meeting where managers write a report about their team’s progress and then spend time explaining it, the key results can be automatically updated, you can connect that data to Viva Goals.

The data can come from a wide range of systems, from databases to business intelligence to planning and issue tracking. If you organize related key results into projects, you can either create them from scratch in Viva Goals or bring them in from Asana.

Viva Goals integrations.
Viva Goals can connect to a range of third party cloud services that track projects sales issues and other metrics – credit Microsoft.

Many of the integrations were developed by before it was acquired by Microsoft, so we expect a longer list of integrations before Viva Goals.

Connect data from Power BI

The new metrics feature is a good example of how that will work. Connected metrics, KPIs and scorecards can be structured into hierarchies, taking data from reporting and analysis solutions and showing them in reports and dashboards. You can see milestones and targets and get a heatmap that shows outliers across different levels so you know what to focus on.

Connect with Power BI to quickly export key goals
Create metrics in Power BI where visualizations show progress in detail and they will flow into Viva Goals – credit Microsoft

The metrics data will flow into Viva Goals so you won’t need to set up the same integrations twice. Power BI has powerful tools for understanding the data for a particular metric, but it doesn’t tell you anything about why that metric matters to the business or how to decide what success looks like

Add contextual data with notes

Along with the progress data that is automatically tracked, the owners of different OKRs are supposed to comment on how these goals are doing and they might decide to manually score results if the numbers don’t tell the whole story If the key results for an objective are to have a certain number of meetings to help you get funding or make sales, and you didn’t have as many meetings as you put in your goal because you closed the deal after just a few meetings, then you didn’t actually do anything

Notifications are built in

You get warnings for objectives that start late, the way you would in a project management tool, but also when you haven’t set any key results, suggesting you haven’t really got a clear goal You get warnings for objectives that were too easy to achieve because the score isn’t just how well or badly you met the goal, but how useful the goal was: are you trying to achieve something impossible or are you coasting?

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Use the insights to guide conversations

Viva Goals is different from a project planning and tracking app because of this process. You use the structure of objectives and key results to connect the big picture directives from business leaders to what people will actually work on day to day, and you put the progress made on those OKRs in context when you evaluate them. Colleagues and co-workers can also comment on check-ins, and those comments are visible alongside the OKRs, so check-ins are an opportunity to start a discussion, as well as keeping people up to date.

The success system that drives Microsoft

It helps employees understand what they should be working on in their own teams and when they need to work with other groups in the organization. OKRs have been used by Microsoft to make sure that teams have a common goal. Viva Goals isn’t going to be as good as the planning and commitment you put into setting realistic and carefully considered objectives, but it is a tool to get that kind of transparency, visibility, autonomy and accountability in your organization.

We expect a public preview of Viva Goals this summer and it should be included with the Microsoft Viva subscription by the third quarter of 2022.