You Need & Get Both With ZOKRI

To most people they do the same job. But honestly, seeing them this way is a mistake. The key to understanding the difference between an OKR and a KPI is to look firstly at what they are.

A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a Quantitative Metric that is selected on the basis of its ability to inform how well a company, team, or individual is doing at any point in time.

Some KPIs are relatively universal like Revenue, others can be specific to an sector or industry. For example, in a Technology / SaaS company, typical SaaS KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are:

  • Bookings
  • Annual Contract Value
  • Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)
  • Churned Monthly Recurring Revenue (CMRR)
  • Expansion Monthly Recurring Revenue (EMRR)
  • Net New Monthly Recurring Revenue (NNMRR)
  • MRR Growth Rate
  • Average Revenue Per Account (ARPA)
  • Number Of Customers / Accounts
  • Customer Engagement Score
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  • Lifetime Value Of Customer (LTV)
  • Cost Of Acquiring Customer (CAC)
  • LTV to CAC Ratio
  • Months to Recover CAC
  • Billings
  • Revenue
  • Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR)​
  • Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)
  • Gross Margin / Gross Profit
  • Gross Margin %
  • Total Operating Expenses
  • EBITDA %
  • Rule of 40
  • SaaS Quick Ratio
  • Revenue Per Employee

If you were to then set KPIs for specific teams, these would be more specific to their area. For example, Sales KPIs are very Sales Pipeline centric and would include:

  • Leads
  • Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)
  • Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
  • Demo Requests
  • Demos Booked
  • Demo Complete
  • Opportunity
  • Closed Won
  • Closed Lost
  • Lead : Opportunity Conversion %
  • MQL : SQL Conversion %
  • SQL : Demo Booked Conversion %
  • SQL : Demo Complete Conversion %
  • Demo : Closed Won Conversion %
  • Trial Sign-ups : ClosedWon Conversion%
  • Opportunity : Closed/Won Conversion%
  • Ramped Rep Count
  • Sales Velocity
If you are in Marketing or Customer Success you’ll have your own sets of the KPIs.


KPIs, Diagnostics And Strategy

If you look at the above sets of metric that form the basis of the SaaS KPIs, you can immediately see how they’d be great at helping create better dashboard, do business diagnostics and strategy creation, as they would help direct areas of focus.

For example: If Churn is too high and is bringing down the SaaS Quick ratio, and CAC : LTV, you’ll know the biggest threat to your SaaS business is Retention.

If MQLs are not converting to SQLs very well, you know there’s a lead quality issue and Marketing and Sales need to align around your Ideal Customer Profile.

If your CAC is too high and Lead Volume low, you’ve an issue with Acquisition and Marketing.

This is why in we allow users to define and own metrics that can be added to Dashboards, but these are not Goals.

What Are Goals And Why Do You Need Them?

KPIs are metric that are statements of fact – for this metric you are here. This could be for a single point in time or through-time with change being highlighted.

Goals have a different job to so. You want Goals and a Goal Setting Framework to support achieve a number of business requirements:


Define a target metric with built in ambition – no low-balling, just the right amount of stretch


Define areas of focus – which metrics / KPIs are most critical and relevant right now


Create agendas for weekly check-ins and execution optimization


Develop and retain talent – your most valuable and mission critical assets


Create alignment and parent child relationships between Company, Team and Individual goals.


Encourage and develop inter-team transparency and dependencies – develop amazing team-working


Provide management toolkits where you are in control but don’t feel the need to micro-manage

Investor Confidence

Show investors that you’re managing the business like professionals so they can invest with confidence

Centralize Your KPIs

Goal transparency is a big deal and underpins some of the performance improvements OKRs bring. If you’re telling your team and other teams this is what we’re trying to achieve, you’re more likely to rise the the challenge of achieving it, and other teams know how to help you.

The same principles apply to making your KPIs visible as widely as possible. Exposing that you’ve decided to call a KPI, the current value and direction of travel is part of being part of an open, collaborative and high-performing data driven culture.


Moving from KPIs to OKRs

Which means we need to select a Goal Setting Framework and roll it out. Which one? SMART, OKRs,
Balanced Scorecard, 4DX (The 4 Disciplines of Execution)?

The truth is all are better than not having Goals. But we see OKRs as a mature and proven goal setting framework. Its effectiveness in all verticals is unquestionable.

OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results. It’s an increasingly popular goal framework that can be rolled out across an organisation, providing control and the performance improvements management want, and the direction and framework to thrive and employee wants.


Here’s a quick reminder of how you construct and OKR. An OKR consist of a Goal Statement e.g. Become the Market Leader or Optimize your Sales Pipeline, and a set of 1 – 5 Key results that contain an ‘as measured by’ element that would allow you judge the success or failure of your goal. You can see more OKR examples here.


Here are a few more important things you need to know about OKRs:
  1. Ownership: OKRs have owners
  2. Collaborators: OKRs can have collaborators that work on the same OKR
  3. Hierarchy: OKRs have Hierarchy which allows owners to ensure alignment with higher-up OKRs, all the way to Corporate OKRs
  4. Metrics: OKRs have a quantifiable metrics and a target value
  5. Time-span: OKRs have a start and end date and can roll-over from Period to Period e.g. Quarters with target metrics varying, or be tactical and used for a limited amount of time.

KPIs do not have a target value, hierarchy, end-dates, and teamwork as part of their DNA.

OKRs with KPI Driven & Operational Key Results

OKRs can combine KPIs and Operation Goals when writing Key Results. This means that not every Key Result needs to have a KPI in. You can use % Complete or Milestones for example. Your final OKRs frequently have a blend of both KPI and Operational Key Results in.

You Need To Use SaaS KPIs and OKRs Together

So the reality is that you don’t choose whether you use KPIs or OKRs. You use both.

You use KPIs for Dashboards, when doing diagnostics and strategy creation, and when telling the story of your company to 3rd Parties e.g. fund raising, and in internal meetings.


You use OKRs as a framework to improve KPIs, to allow people to focus on the highest priority KPIs for your company, team, or personal goals. 
You also use OKRs as they have all of the other required performance boosting aspects outlined above and will have a greater impact of company performance.

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