OKR vs KPI: Can OKRs and KPIs Work Together?


Just as driving a car without a speedometer can lead to dangerous consequences or arriving too late at your destination, operating a business without proper metrics like KPIs or OKRs is not a wise decision. In both scenarios, the absence of these vital gauges leaves you in the dark about your progress, hindering your ability to make timely adjustments and optimize your journey toward success.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are two popular control methodologies that companies employ to measure performance and achieve desired outcomes. While both KPIs and OKRs are goal-oriented, they differ in their approach, scope, and strategic focus. 

KPIs and OKRs offer distinct methodologies to measure performance and conquer organizational goals. Picture yourself on the frontlines of a battle, where KPIs act as precision-guided missiles, targeting specific objectives with accuracy and efficiency. Meanwhile, OKRs serve as the battle plans, mapping out the big picture and rallying troops for a collective charge toward success. 

In this article, we will analyze the OKR vs KPI dilemma, examine the potential transformation of a KPI into an OKR, and offer valuable insights on the appropriate utilization of each methodology for better results.

KPI meaning

Before understanding the difference between OKR vs KPI, we need to have a common understanding of KPI and OKR. First KPI meaning:

KPI meaning should be very easy to understand, therefore we define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as quantifiable metrics that help evaluate the performance of specific activities, processes, or departments within an organization. KPIs are tailored to measure progress toward achieving predefined targets or goals. 

These metrics provide valuable insights into the success of operational objectives and allow companies to monitor performance, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions. 

KPIs are often derived from critical business drivers and are aligned with the organization’s strategic goals and objectives.

Now it is clear why we describe KPIs as “precision-guided missiles” on the market battlefield.

Smart KPI Examples

Like any other concept, reviewing KPI examples is the best way to understand it in a practical way. Smart KPI is a term that will help you to define KPIs that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time tabled. Here you can see some Smart KPI Examples for your Ecommerce:

Marketing KPI

Conversion Rate: Percentage of website visitors who take the desired action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter.

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): The average cost of acquiring a new customer through marketing efforts.

Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS): Measure of the revenue generated for every dollar spent on advertising.

Sales KPI

Sales Conversion Rate

Showing sale conversion rate as an example of KPI to show spotlight the delimma of OKR vs KPI.

This KPI measures the effectiveness of the sales process by calculating the percentage of leads or prospects that convert into paying customers.

Monthly Sales Growth: Percentage increase in sales compared to the previous month.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV): The predicted net profit generated from a customer throughout their relationship with the business.

Call center KPI

First Response Time: Average time taken for a customer query to be responded to by the call center.
Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): Gauge of customer happiness and contentment with call center interactions.
Average Handling Time (AHT): Total time spent on a call, from initiation to resolution.


Organic Traffic Growth: Percentage increase in website visitors coming from search engines.

Keyword Ranking: Position of specific keywords in search engine results pages.

Bounce Rate: Percentage of visitors who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page.

Supply chain KPI

Order Fulfillment Cycle Time: Time taken from order placement to product delivery.

Inventory Turnover Ratio: The number of times inventory is sold or used in a specific time period.

Perfect Order Rate: Percentage of orders that are fulfilled without any errors or issues.

KPI accounting

Gross Profit Margin: Percentage of revenue that exceeds the cost of goods sold.

Accounts Receivable Turnover: The number of times accounts receivable are collected in a given period.

Operating Cash Flow Ratio: Measure of a company’s ability to cover its short-term obligations using its operating cash flow.

Now that you understood the KPI meaning, you can take your knowledge to the next level and learn how successful companies use KPIs to control the whole business using a Business Intelligence (BI) system. You can read more in the “Uncover the Business Intelligence Implementation” article.

KPI Scorecard

Okr vs kpi:  showing the KPI scorecard
Source: Slide Egg

A KPI Scorecard is a powerful tool that visualizes the performance of an organization through a set of key performance indicators. It provides a comprehensive view of various KPIs in a single, easy-to-understand dashboard, enabling stakeholders to quickly assess the health and progress of the business. A well-designed KPI scorecard not only offers a snapshot of performance but also highlights trends and areas that require attention.

How to Use a KPI Scorecard:

  1. Select Relevant KPIs: Choose the most relevant and critical KPIs for your business goals. These KPIs should align with your objectives and help measure progress toward achieving them.
  2. Visual Representation: Display KPIs using charts, graphs, and color-coded indicators. Visual elements make it easier to interpret data at a glance.
  3. Regular Updates: Keep the KPI scorecard up-to-date with real-time or periodic data updates. This ensures that stakeholders have access to the latest information for informed decision-making.
  4. Benchmarking: Compare current performance against historical data or industry benchmarks. This helps identify areas of improvement and assess whether you’re on track to achieve your goals.
  5. Focus on Actionable Insights: The KPI scorecard should not just display data but offer insights that drive action. Highlight areas that are performing well and those that need attention, prompting necessary interventions.
  6. Customization: Tailor the KPI scorecard to the needs of different stakeholders. Sales teams might need different KPIs than finance or marketing, so customize views accordingly.
  7. Cascade the Scorecard: If your organization uses OKRs, align the KPI scorecard with your objectives. This helps create a clear line of sight between high-level objectives and day-to-day performance.
  8. Regular Review: Set a schedule for regular review meetings to discuss the insights derived from the KPI scorecard. This fosters accountability and ensures that corrective actions are taken promptly.

A well-implemented KPI scorecard enhances transparency, facilitates data-driven decision-making, and promotes a culture of continuous improvement within the organization. It serves as a valuable compass, guiding your business towards its strategic goals with clarity and precision.

KPI Tree

image 4
Source: kickframe.com

A KPI Tree is a hierarchical structure that breaks down high-level goals into more specific and manageable components. Similar to a tree’s branches stemming from a trunk, a KPI tree visually represents how individual key performance indicators contribute to the achievement of broader objectives. This approach offers a clear and organized way to understand the relationship between different KPIs and how they collectively impact the overall success of an organization.

How to Use a KPI Tree:

  1. Define the Main Objective: Start with a clear understanding of your primary objective. This could be a strategic goal like “Increase Market Share” or “Improve Customer Satisfaction.”
  2. Identify Sub-Objectives: Break down the main objective into smaller, related sub-objectives. These are steps that contribute directly to achieving the main goal. For example, if the main goal is to increase market share, sub-objectives could include “Expand Distribution Network” or “Launch New Products.”
  3. Map KPIs to Sub-Objectives: Assign specific KPIs to each sub-objective. These KPIs should measure the performance of the sub-objective accurately. For instance, for the sub-objective “Expand Distribution Network,” relevant KPIs could be “Number of New Partnerships” or “Geographical Coverage.”
  4. Quantify KPI Targets: Define target values for each KPI. These values indicate what level of performance is required to achieve the associated sub-objective. Ensure that these targets are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART).
  5. Visual Representation: Represent the KPI tree visually, using software or tools that allow for clear hierarchy and easy understanding.
  6. Regular Review: Regularly review and update the KPI tree to reflect changes in goals, strategies, or business conditions.
  7. Alignment with Strategy: Ensure that the KPI tree aligns with the organization’s overall strategy and vision.
  8. Communication: Share the KPI tree with relevant teams and stakeholders. This promotes understanding, ownership, and accountability for the specific KPIs.

A KPI tree provides a strategic roadmap for achieving objectives by breaking them down into manageable components. It enhances clarity, ensures alignment, and allows for a more focused and coordinated approach to reaching organizational goals. Utilizing a KPI tree can help organizations track progress at both the micro and macro levels, enabling better decision-making and fostering a culture of achievement.

OKR Meaning

On the other hand, Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are a goal-setting framework that outlines ambitious, qualitative objectives and measurable key results to track progress.

The concept of OKRs has an intriguing history. It traces back to the 1970s when Intel CEO Andrew Grove developed the methodology and shared it with John Doerr, one of the company’s top salespeople. Years later, Doerr, while serving on Google’s board, introduced OKRs to its founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Since 1999, Google has been implementing OKRs every quarter, establishing a lasting legacy for this goal-setting framework. (Forbes)

OKRs focus on achieving significant outcomes aligned with the company’s overall vision and mission. Objectives set the direction and aspiration, while Key Results specify the specific results that indicate successful achievement of the objectives. 

OKRs provide a framework that encourages transparency, alignment, and collaboration across teams and departments. They promote a results-driven culture and allow organizations to adapt and pivot as needed.

As you noticed, we can say that OKRs act as “battle plans” for the company.

OKR breakdown

Since OKRs consist of Objectives + Results, or as in some resources like nulivo.com consist of objective + Key activities + Results, we need to clarify each of these elements for each OKR. In the following examples, you can clearly see how you should set your OKRs. It will also help you to decide between OKR vs KPI.  

Ecommerce OKRs

While the foundational concept of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) remains consistent across industries, the world of Ecommerce introduces a unique set of challenges and opportunities. Ecommerce OKRs are an emphasis on this framework, tailored specifically to the dynamic landscape of online businesses. These OKRs align with the distinct goals and priorities of Ecommerce, ranging from enhancing customer experiences to managing supply chains with agility.

Ecommerce OKR Examples

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) offer a powerful framework to drive your Ecommerce business toward its goals. After understanding what is an OKR, it is better to see some OKR examples.

Customer service OKR

Objective: Enhance Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty
Key Result: Achieve a Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) of 90 or above through post-purchase surveys and feedback mechanisms.

Customer support OKRs

Objective: Improve First Response Time and Issue Resolution
Key Result: Reduce the average response time for customer support inquiries to under 15 minutes by implementing a streamlined ticketing system.

Digital marketing OKR

Objective: Increase Online Brand Visibility and Engagement
Key Result: Grow organic website traffic by 25% through content optimization and targeted keyword strategies.

Operational OKRs

Objective: Optimize Inventory Management and Order Fulfillment
Key Result: Decrease order processing time by 20% through process automation and improved inventory tracking.

Customer experience OKRs

Objective: Enhance the Online Shopping Experience
Key Result: Increase the conversion rate by 15% by optimizing website navigation, user interface, and checkout process.

Supply Chain OKR examples

Objective: Strengthen Supplier Partnerships
Key Result: Establish strategic partnerships with three new suppliers, ensuring a diversified and resilient supply chain.

another interesting metric to be chosen as an OKR can be based on increasing the NPS. You don’t know what is NPS? you have to read the “The Definitive Guide to NPS article.

OKR vs KPI: Differences in 3 major categories

Now that you get the general idea of OKR vs KPI, we are going to explain the differences between them. We illustrate the differences between OKR vs KPI under 3 main categories:

  • Applications
  • Benefits
  • Difficulties

And then we provide a practical example of a car manufacturing company to make the difference between OKR and KPI crystal clear.  


When it comes to the application of OKR vs KPI, they serve distinct purposes within an organization.

KPIs are commonly used to monitor ongoing performance, measure efficiency, and assess the success of operational processes. They are often specific to individual departments or areas within an organization. 

On the other hand, OKRs are strategic and high-level goals that align with the overall vision of the organization. OKRs drive innovation, focus on ambitious outcomes, and create alignment across teams.


Both KPIs and OKRs offer unique benefits to organizations in their pursuit of success. But there are some differences that should be considered while deciding between OKR vs KPI.

KPIs provide a clear and measurable picture of performance, enabling organizations to identify strengths and weaknesses. They facilitate day-to-day decision-making and help optimize processes. 

OKRs, on the other hand, promote a results-oriented culture, inspire employees to reach challenging goals, and foster cross-functional collaboration. They encourage continuous learning and improvement and provide a framework for strategic alignment.


While both KPIs and OKRs are potent goal-setting methodologies, they each present unique challenges.

KPIs, although valuable for tracking performance, may have limitations in scope, potentially falling short of capturing the broader strategic goals of an organization. Defining meaningful KPIs and ensuring accurate data can also prove challenging. 

On the other hand, OKRs demand meticulous alignment and constant communication to maintain the relevance and achievability of objectives and key results. Striking the right balance between ambition and clarity, avoiding overly ambitious or vague OKRs, can be an ongoing challenge.

Car Manufacturing Company Example

Imagine a pioneer car manufacturing company. The company relies on the strategic utilization of goal-setting methodologies. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) play a crucial role in steering the organization toward its desired outcomes. By harnessing the power of these goal-setting approaches, the company strives to optimize performance, enhance operational efficiency, and achieve its ambitious objectives. Let’s take a closer look at how KPIs and OKRs shape the journey of this car manufacturing company, each offering unique perspectives and driving forces along the way.

OKRs in a Car Manufacturing Company


 Increase market share by launching a new line of electric vehicles.

Key Results:

a. Achieve a 10% increase in electric vehicle sales compared to the previous year.

b. Expand distribution network to five new international markets.

c. Reduce production costs by 15% through process optimization and automation.

OKRs in this context represent the strategic goals of the car manufacturing company. They focus on long-term objectives that align with the company’s vision, such as entering new markets, increasing sales, and improving cost efficiency.

KPIs in a Car Manufacturing Company

Key Performance Indicators:

a. Sales Revenue: Measure the overall revenue generated from car sales, including electric vehicles.

b. Production Efficiency: Track the time, resources, and costs required to produce each vehicle.

c. Customer Satisfaction: Evaluate customer feedback and ratings to assess satisfaction levels.

d. Defect Rate: Monitor the percentage of vehicles with manufacturing defects.

e. Supply Chain Performance: Measure the efficiency of the supply chain in delivering parts and components.

KPIs in this scenario represent specific metrics that help monitor and evaluate the operational performance of the car manufacturing company. They focus on measuring key aspects such as sales revenue, production efficiency, customer satisfaction, product quality, and supply chain performance.

Differences between OKRs and KPIs summary:

  • Strategic vs. Operational: OKRs are strategic goals that outline the direction and vision of the company, while KPIs focus on operational performance and specific metrics.
  • Long-term vs. Short-term: OKRs typically have a longer time horizon and represent ambitious, high-level objectives, while KPIs often have shorter-term targets that track ongoing performance and operational efficiency.
  • Alignment vs. Measurement: OKRs align with the company’s strategic direction, whereas KPIs measure specific operational aspects and performance indicators.
  • Company-wide vs. Department-focused: OKRs are usually set at the company level and cascade down to different departments, while KPIs can be specific to individual departments or areas of the company.

When to Use OKRs and When to Use KPIs

The choice between OKRs and KPIs depends on the specific goals and context of an organization. OKRs are well-suited for ambitious, long-term strategic objectives that require cross-functional collaboration and alignment. They are effective when innovation and breakthrough outcomes are desired.

If you want to plan where you want to be in the future, you are going to need OKR.

KPIs, on the other hand, are valuable for monitoring ongoing performance, measuring operational efficiency, and tracking specific metrics that are critical for day-to-day decision-making. 

KPIs are particularly useful for tracking departmental or individual performance and ensuring accountability.

Continue to read more about Key Performance Indicators:

How to define KPIs for your company’s customer service

What is a KPI in Marketing and how to choose your measurement units on the Internet?

How to Set Up Relevant E-Commerce KPIs to Determine Customer Value

Key Insights

  • KPIs and OKRs serve distinct purposes, with KPIs focusing on ongoing performance measurement and operational efficiency, while OKRs drive strategic alignment and ambitious outcomes.
  • OKRs act as battle plans, inspiring teams to achieve grand visions, while KPIs are like precision-guided missiles, targeting specific objectives with efficiency.
  • Transforming a KPI into an OKR is possible when there is a need to elevate the focus from operational metrics to broader strategic outcomes.
  • Organizations should carefully consider the application and benefits of both methodologies, aligning them with their specific goals, time horizons, and desired outcomes.
  • OKRs foster innovation, collaboration, and a results-oriented culture, while KPIs provide a measurable picture of performance and facilitate day-to-day decision-making.
  • Strategic goals often call for OKRs, while KPIs excel in tracking operational metrics and ensuring accountability at the departmental level.

What does KPI stand for?

KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator. It’s a quantifiable metric that helps measure the performance of specific activities, processes, or departments within an organization. KPIs are used to track progress toward predefined targets or goals.

Which KPI is most likely to be a vanity metric?

Vanity metrics often give a positive appearance of progress without reflecting actual business impact. For instance, in Ecommerce, a vanity KPI could be “Website Visits,” as it doesn’t directly indicate conversion rates or revenue generation. Social media number of followers can be another good example of a vanity metric.

What is Ecommerce OKRs?

Ecommerce OKRs are a customized application of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) tailored specifically to the Ecommerce industry. They align with the unique goals and challenges of online businesses, aiming to improve areas like customer experience, digital marketing, operational efficiency, and supply chain management.

Which is better: OKR or KPI?

The choice between OKRs and KPIs depends on your organization’s goals and context. KPIs are great for measuring ongoing performance, while OKRs excel at driving strategic alignment and innovation. Many organizations use a combination of both for a holistic approach to goal-setting and measurement.

What is the difference between KPIs, OKRs, and metrics?

KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) are goal-setting methodologies. KPIs measure specific performance aspects, while OKRs focus on achieving broader, qualitative objectives with measurable key results. Metrics, on the other hand, are the quantitative data points that measure performance, which can include KPIs and key results.

Can OKRs and KPIs work together?

Yes, OKRs and KPIs can work together synergistically. KPIs can provide the quantitative backbone for tracking ongoing performance, while OKRs provide a strategic framework for achieving larger objectives. Combining both methodologies can offer a well-rounded approach to setting and measuring goals in an organization.

Image credit: Freepik


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Seyed Morteza Mortazavi
Hi! I am Seyed Morteza, the content expert of the ECN company. I love to share my knowledge and expertise in the E-commerce field with curious businesses or individuals. Visit my LinkedIn profile to get in touch.