A Guide to OKRs, Product Goals, and Sprint Planning

September 6, 2023

In the world of software development, setting and achieving organizational goals is essential for staying competitive and driving innovation. This guide will take you through a practical journey of defining organizational goals using Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), transforming them into actionable Product Goals with the INVEST criteria, and planning sprints for meaningful Sprint Goals. To illustrate this process, we’ll use a software development scenario.

Step 1: OKRs and Product Goals

Imagine you are part of a dynamic software development team working for a tech startup. Your organization’s overarching objective is to “Build a High-Performing Mobile App for Project Management.” To measure progress, you’ve established specific Key Results (KRs) in close collaboration with users and team:

  1. “Achieve 100,000 downloads of the mobile app within the first six months of launch.”
  2. “Maintain a 4.5-star average rating on app stores.”
  3. “Publish bi-weekly LinkedIn posts showcasing the team’s technical expertise and project progress.”

This OKR serves as a nice Product Goal for a series of future sprints.

Step 2: Transforming OKRs into Sprint Goals with INVEST

Now, let’s delve into how to transform one of these Key Results into an actionable Sprint Goal using the INVEST criteria in collaboration with users and team.

Example Sprint Goal: “Implement a user-friendly task management feature in the mobile app.”

Independent: This Product Goal can be pursued without being dependent on other tasks. It stands alone as a valuable feature enhancement.

Negotiable: While your primary objective is to deliver a high-performing app, you remain open to adapting features and priorities based on user feedback and market demands.

Valuable: The Product Goal of “Implementing a user-friendly task management feature” provides value to app users and aligns with the project management theme of the app.

Estimable: You can estimate the effort required to implement this feature, including design, development, and testing.

Small: “Create a prototype of the task management feature” is a smaller goal that contributes to your larger Product Goal.

Testable: You can test the success of this Product Goal by assessing user satisfaction with the implemented task management feature.

Step 3: Sprint Planning

With your Sprint Goal in place, it’s time to plan a sprint to achieve it effectively.

Identify Priorities: Given its importance in enhancing the app’s functionality, you prioritize the Product Goal of “Implementing a user-friendly task management feature” for the upcoming sprint.

Break Goals Down: Within the sprint planning, your team divides the Sprint Goal into tasks:

  • Conduct user research to understand their task management needs.
  • Design the user interface for the task management feature.
  • Develop and test the feature.
  • Integrate the feature into the app.

Tasks: Team defines the tasks and work on them in collaboration based on their skills and interest.

Set a Timeline: The sprint will run for two weeks, starting at the beginning of the next development cycle.

Review and Adapt: Throughout the sprint, you hold daily stand-up meetings to monitor progress and address any obstacles that arise, ensuring a smooth development process.

Measure and Learn: At the end of the sprint, you evaluate the outcome against your key results. You assess user feedback and app store ratings to gauge the impact of the implemented task management feature.

In Conclusion:

This guide has taken you through the process of defining organizational goals with OKRs, transforming them into actionable Sprint Goals using the INVEST criteria, and planning sprints to achieve meaningful Sprint Goals in the software development context. This way of working is not “Scrum by the book” and may be considered controversial by some – since the Product Goal and Sprint Goal is defined differently than prescribed in the Scrum guide. By applying these principles and steps, you can steer your software development toward success, whether you’re building a high-performing mobile app or pursuing other technological endeavors.


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