Power BI Goals and OKRs

by Treb Gatte

Employee coaching session

If you are just hearing about Power BI Goals, check out https://marqueeinsights.com/power-bi-goals-introduction-part-1/ where we introduce the feature.

In Part 2, we go through an unboxing of the feature https://marqueeinsights.com/power-bi-goals-introduction-part-2/

In Part 3, you learn the mechanics of setting up Power BI Goals https://marqueeinsights.com/power-bi-goals-introduction-part-3/

Using Power BI Goals to manage Objective and Key Results (OKRs) are a great way to keep your remote and hybrid employees in sync with minimal overhead. The OKR technique enables you to create clear behavior targets for groups and individuals that are tied to underlying activities and data.

OKRs are one of three primary use cases

OKRs are but one of three emergent usage scenarios for Power BI Goals. I see some companies using Goals for Metric Aggregation and some for Balanced Scorecards. This post focuses on OKRs as I see the scenario offering broader benefits to the entire organization. OKRs are critical to creating an Action-centric culture.

OKRs illustrated

To illustrate an OKR, let us say I have a goal of running in a marathon next year. I should have several intermediate objectives that must be accomplished to achieve that goal. Each objective has key results from activities that measure my progress.  I break down one aspect of the goal as follows.

  • Annual Goal: Run a 26-mile marathon
    • Objective – In Q1, run three miles
      • Key Result – Run four times a week
        • Report – Weekly run count
      • Key Result – Weekly average run time of 30 minutes or less
        • Report – Weekly average run time
      • Key Result – Weekly average run length of three miles or more
        • Report – Weekly average run length

Note, I’m writing this breakdown as a series of FAST goals. FAST stands for:

  • Frequent
  • Ambitious
  • Specific
  • Transparent

You’ve probably heard of SMART Goals before. FAST Goals tend to work better with OKRs as it supports a faster review cadence. Let’s delve more into how FAST applies.

Frequent Review

OKRs are reviewed and updated frequently, generally in weekly meetings. If the reasons for an OKR change, the frequent reviews ensure that the OKR can be modified to meet current needs. You should also ensure you are reading this article on the origination site of marquee insights dot com. For example, if I find out the marathon will be in a hilly location, I will add an elevation OKR to ensure I am training for the terrain as well.


The thought of me running a marathon is certainly ambitious. When organizations adopt OKRs, the overarching goal is to drive innovation. Therefore, a certain percentage of OKRs will not be successful and that is expected. If all your OKRs were achieved for a time frame, make them more ambitious next time. Some companies set a success threshold at an organizational level such that the overall portfolio must achieve 70% of what was planned. Companies like Google have very ambitious OKRs where a 30% non-achievement rate is not unheard of.

Specificity is key

The key results above are very specific. This ensures holistic achievement of the Goal. For example, I have a key result to run four times a week. If I don’t add other key results to ensure quality, I could run a block four times a week and achieve the objective. Hence, I added key results for duration and distance to ensure a holistic quality effort.

Transparent to the organization

FAST style OKRs enable groups to self-align their work more easily as they are typically public to the organization. My personal OKRs are visible to everyone in the company so that they understand my areas of focus. If I see someone with a related OKR, I can coordinate my efforts with them.

My marathon example would look like this in Power BI Goals.

My Marathon Ambitions as a Power BI Scorecard

Implementing OKRs in Power BI Goals

The process for creating Power BI Goals was covered in our previous blog post in the video at the beginning. Power BI Goals Introduction, Part 3 – Marquee Insights

Most organizations create 3-5 OKRs for a given entity. In my example above, I have four OKRs to track. A team, department, or overall organization should have a small, focused set of OKRs to track. If you have more than four created, it may be that they can be grouped in some logical fashion to achieve the 3-5 OKRs desired. Power BI Goals allows you to create up to 5 levels of sub-goals if needed.

Creation is step one. Tracking OKRs requires planning for three other functional aspects to support the ongoing organizational conversation. They are check-in cycle, check-in status, and check-in notes.

Check-in cycle

Check-ins ensure we are making progress on an OKR and getting help when we need it. Power BI Goals enables you to set a check-in cycle so that you can update the OKR on the following schedules.

  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Monthly
  • Quarterly
  • Yearly

In my example above, I’ll set my check-in cycle to Weekly and I’ll update it on Fridays so that I can log the week’s activities.

To set the check-in cycle,

  • Edit your scorecard
  • Hover over the goal to see the vertical ellipse button
  • Select More details
  • Select Settings at the top
  • Click the Frequency dropdown to set the cycle
  • Click Track
Power BI Goals Tracking Settings

Check-in status

Check-ins support several prebuilt statuses that are set when the check-in is made. Currently, the status in the Public Preview is manually set. According to the published Power BI roadmap, a data-driven status experience is coming soon. Goals automated status rules – Power Platform Release Plan | Microsoft Docs We’ll blog about the automated experience when it becomes available.

I recommend that you use consistent rules for setting these values. If you use different metric calculations across scorecards, you may create understanding gaps in your readers. In my Marathon OKRs example above, I’ll set the status as follows:

  • On Track – I ran as planned or more
  • At Risk – I ran less than planned (95% – 50%)
  • Behind – I ran less than 50% of what was planned

One organization Marquee Insights works with has developed an elegant way to use these statuses. They use the statuses for Executive signaling. In their use, Green is everything is good. Yellow indicates there are issues but the person/team is handling it. Red indicates that issues exist, and Executive assistance is needed to address the issues. The check-in notes for each status lend the requisite discussion points for the status. Personally, I like this definition as it creates a common understanding of the statuses that is very easy to understand. When you have a VP meeting, they will start with the red OKRs first.

Power BI Goals Statuses

Check-in status notes

The ability to add your OKR status directly in a Power BI Goal is of massive value. Adding a note provides context to the status that is set. As a scalable practice, Marquee Insights create a set format of headings for an OKR check-in status. We’ve found this makes it easier for the person doing the check-in as they know what information is needed. It also makes it easier for the reader to consumer the information as it is in a consistent format. You can add quite a bit of text in the notes. I’ve added 10,000 characters as a test and the Goal updated without issue.

In my Marathon OKRs example above, I’ll set the status notes on the individual OKRs to have day of run, total time running, and distance ran.

A very long check-in note! 10,000+ characters.

I hope you’ve found this post to be helpful. I’ll be discussing the underlying data for Power BI Goals in an upcoming post.

If you need assistance in implementing Power BI Goals, Marquee Insights now has a Design and Implementation service. Contact us at hello@marqueeinsights.com to learn more.

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