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How to map OKRs in Jira?

Hello Atlassian Community:

How exactly does Atlassian and other companies incorporate Objectives & Key Results (OKRs) into their Jira workflow?

Here's a scenario: A team runs the OKR Play and completes writing up their OKRs for the quarter using the Confluence OKRs template:

  1. How can they now map each Objective in Jira?
  2. How can they then map each Key Result of an Objective in Jira? 
  3. How can they then link feature candidates (story tickets) to each Key Result? Feature Candidates are the features or work items we pull from the backlog of 1 or more Jira projects during sprint planning which we THINK will help achieve our key results.

The goal is for these associations to be dynamic so that if, for example, a product manager updates an Objective or Key Result, the feature candidates that link to them reflect these changes. 

Similarly to how epics and the stories that roll up into them can be used as a mechanism to tell the story of how you arrived at the current state of a feature or product, it's important for anyone looking at a Jira story ticket to be able to see which Key Result it is linked to and which Objective it is linked to (i.e.: similar to the way Epic Links work).

I've read many articles which help explain what OKRs are and how to create them, however I haven't found 1 guide as to how to actually setup Jira to use OKRs. 

https://www.atlassian.com/team-playbook/plays/okrs

https://www.atlassian.com/software/confluence/templates/okrs

For example, the first article mentions that OKRs have been deployed at Atlassian itself, but not exactly how Atlassian uses Jira to integrate their OKRs:
https://www.atlassian.com/blog/jira-align/scaled-agile-okrs

 

A step-by-step guide on how to map OKRs in a Jira project would be super helpful!

2 answers

1 accepted

0 votes
Answer accepted

Hi @David Nadri ,

That's an interesting question. This is my opinion on how I'd map my OKRs to JIRA tickets:

The template summarizes well the different sections for OKRs but maybe I'd make a copy of it and modify it a little bit. I'd include two tables, one for the Objectives and one for the Key Results.

The table for Objectives would look similar to the one you see in the template with an objective, owner, due dates, partners and a list of key results.

The table for Key Results would contain the key results summary, description and maybe links to other stories.

In JIRA I would have an issue type Epic where I'd map the columns in the 'Objectives' table to fields in the ticket; also I would have an issue type Story (or something similar) where I'd map the columns in the 'Key Results' table to fields in the story issue.

First I'd populate the tables while defining OKRs and then I'd select each table and create issues from each table automatically (you can create JIRA tickets from Confluence directly as described here: https://confluence.atlassian.com/display/CONF57/Use+JIRA+and+Confluence+together, check the comment "The issue will be created in JIRA and added to your page. If your text is in a table, you'll have the option to create multiple issues using text from the same column.")

Then I'd use the JIRA tickets to follow the regular workflow and track all conversations and dependencies, while the Confluence page would serve the purpose of a summary report that I can use to share with management or with stakeholders that wouldn't be as interested in all the details in JIRA. The tables in Confluence includes links to the JIRA tickets anyway, so you can navigate back and forth with one click, and I'd also add a 'comments' column to the tables where you can add your notes to highlight events.

Hope it helps,

Carlos

@Carlos Garcia Navarro - thanks so much for sharing.

A few follow up questions to what you said:

In JIRA I would have an issue type Epic where I'd map the columns in the 'Objectives' table to fields in the ticket; also I would have an issue type Story (or something similar) where I'd map the columns in the 'Key Results' table to fields in the story issue.

  1. If there are multiple Jira projects - such as 1 for an iOS app and 1 for a website that sometimes depend on each other - should the Objectives (Epics) and Key Results (Stories) for the iOS app live in a separate 'OKRs' Jira project or the same iOS Jira project? And why?

  2. To clarify, since one of the columns in the 'Objectives' table is the list of Key Results tied to an Objective, each Key Result should be a linked story ticket (not a field) inside the corresponding Objective epic, correct?

  3. If so, how should the Key Result story ticket be differentiated from regular development story tickets in that same Objective epic, should it be a custom story issue type called, "Key Result"? Still, I believe they would be on the same hierarchy level and therefore

Regarding what I mentioned:

it's important for anyone looking at a Jira story ticket to be able to see which Key Result it is linked to and which Objective it is linked to (i.e.: similar to the way Epic Links work).

4. Since each feature candidate (development story ticket) is tied to a specific Key Result, how can a developer looking at development story ticket see which Key Result it is tied to? Just like how you can click on the Epic Link inside the story ticket to get to the epic, I assume this can be similarly accomplished by linking the Key Result ticket using a 'has a' or 'is blocked by' dependency link on the story ticket, correct? The goal is just to be able to navigate from:

  • Objective to each Key Result (and vice versa)
  • Key Result to Feature Candidate (and vice versa)
  • Feature Candidate to Key Result and Objective

Hi David,

1) I would keep the OKRs in the corresponding project (iOS or the website) rather than in just one project. This is a more organized way in my opinion, and also you could always create a dashboard that pulls items from different projects if you want to have a view for the OKRs. If I map Epics to OKRs I would use 'fix version' to tag the release, e.g. if the OKRs are defined quarterly, 'fix version' field could be set to 'Fiscal Year 2020, Quarter 1'. Then you can build a dashboard or a filter that shows all OKRs for a specific quarter.

2) You could have a list of stories in the column 'Key Results' if you like, but in my suggestion I was proposing a field. The reason for that if you map the key results column in the table to a field in the Epic Jira tickets, then you can create all the tickets from the table with one click.

3) Yes, you can create a dedicated issue type for key results, and yes they would be at the same level of hierarchy as stories. The value is in the ability to query the key results (e.g. by using the clause 'where issuetype in ("KR")')

4) You can create link types, so a suggestion would be to define one that says something like 'related to KR' and then link the stories

Hope it helps,

Carlos

Thanks @Carlos Garcia Navarro - similar to the 'Key Result' custom issue time (story-level), is there a way to create a 'Objective' custom issue type on the same hierarchy level as an Epic? 

The 'Objective' messaging on the ticket is important to see, instead of 'Epic' and the Roadmap feature in Next-Gen projects seems to only support Epic issue types.

Like Jessie Ettinger likes this

Hi @David Nadri ,

Unfortunately we can't create multiple Epic issue types. There is an existing feature request where you could vote but it's been open for a while...

https://jira.atlassian.com/browse/JSWCLOUD-7203

Hi @David Nadri - I am looking to roll out something similar for my company and I would be interested to learn how this is going for you. I found this Medium article I was thinking of trying for setup. https://medium.com/@rvoluck/using-jira-to-manage-okrs-27d31d7c379e

Hi @Jessie Ettinger - thanks for sharing! The Medium article has some cool, helpful tips. 

I'm still playing with it, but basically here's how I am setting up OKRs in Jira:

  1. Create an OKR next-gen Jira project
  2. In the OKR project, rename the Epic Jira issue type to "Objective" (epic-level)
  3. Create a custom issue type, "Key Result" (story-level)
  4. Create an Objective issue and a Key Result issue for each of your objectives and key results
  5. In the Jira admin settings, add new Issue Link Types for Objective, Key Results, and Feature Candidates (user stories) to associate them later
  6. Go to each Objective issue, and use the new issue link you created to associate that Objective to the Key Result issues
  7. Go to each Key Result issue, and link the the Objective and the Feature Candidates (i.e.: user stories from other projects) 
  8. Now, when looking at a user story, you can see which key result this story is working towards...and when looking at a Key Result, you can see which Use Objective it's tied to and what the Feature Candidates are.
  9. Leverage Confluence to create status reports, roadmap visuals, etc.
  10. Add/subtract to your needs...

Note: There is no perfect solution. What might work for one team, might not work for another. But you can tweak it to work for your process.

I'm just starting to implement OKRs but, over time, I expect to learn what worked/what didn't work and make necessary tweaks. Maybe I'll post an update in a few months :) 

I'm about to tackle this same thing.

I'll start with the approach above. I'm curious wether @Jessie Ettinger or @David Nadri have any tips or thoughts about this based on your feedback from actual usage.

Also... you promised! 

Maybe I'll post an update in a few months :)

Thanks!

@Diego Schvartzman - you got it.

After using this approach for a few months, I'm still following the steps I outlined for @Jessie Ettinger , but I've found that it may be a bit too manual for our workflow, especially as things change within a quarter.

I've started using a simple, leaner doc to track OKRs and Epics, inspired by this template:

https://coda.io/@atc/epics-okrs-tracking-quickstart/tracker-1 

Once there is alignment on the OKRs and Epics, I then create the Objective and Key Result tickets in the OKR project and link the stories. 

I'll reiterate: there is no perfect solution. What might work for one team, might not work for another. You can tweak this approach to see what works for your process.

Would love to hear a progress update from you in a few months! 

 

P.S. Jira's Advanced Roadmaps seems to be an integrated/native way to track all of this in one place, however, it's a paid option. 

28a853c0-e6b7-4f4c-832e-4370affa53b5

@David Nadri thanks for the quick reply.

I'll give a try, probably with my own flavour. And update here with feedback once I have it!

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