When preparing to roll out OKRs to your company you'll need to decide how you'd like to structure your program. One of the first things you need to define is your cadences. If you’ve already defined them, then skip to the end of this article to find out how to edit and create cadences and timeframes.
What are cadences and timeframes?
Although the word "cadence" can sound a bit fancy, cadence is nothing more than the frequency with which you create goals.
A timeframe is a single date range.
ie. Q1 2019 (Jan 1, 2019 - Mar 31, 2019); 2020 (Jan 1, 2020 - Dec 31, 2020)
A cadence is simply a series of recurring timeframes.
ie. Annual, Quarterly, Monthly
Which cadence works best?
OKRs typically work with a combination of cadences that interact with each other to create a rhythm of continuous and focused progress. You have a high-level goal with a longer horizon, that can only be accomplished by working toward smaller goals with a shorter horizon.
The standard combination in the OKR framework is annual and quarterly. Annual OKRs communicate the core themes that the company (and sometimes departments) wants to achieve by the end of the year. Quarterly OKRs are the short-term goals that teams will generate to help achieve the company's annual priorities.
Our tips for choosing cadences
1. Keep it simple
New to OKR? Start out with 2 cadences. A cadence for company-wide goals and a second one for groups (teams and departments). We’d also recommend keeping cadences consistent across groups to ensure dependencies are coordinated and aligned. Start simple and then modify the process as you iterate and learn 👍
2. Be agile
Shorter cadences will work best if you’re operating in uncertain environments where priorities can shift frequently, eg start-ups.
For more established companies, with less uncertainty, a longer cadence for company goals could be a better option. Of course, you still need to keep things agile, so balance it out with a shorter cadence at the group level.
3. Collect feedback
Finding the right cadence is an iterative process. Don't expect to get it right on your first attempt. The annual + quarterly combination works for most organizations and, to keep things simple, we recommend you start there. Remember, this is not set in stone. At the end of each quarter, discuss the experience, identify the learnings, and make the necessary adjustment to find cadences that work for you.
Create or edit cadences
When setting up your Perdoo account, you may have already created some OKR cadences. We recommend an annual, and a quarterly cadence, based on what we’ve seen work with hundreds of organizations. But you can create and edit cadences to match your preferred planning cycle.
It’s likely you’ll want to edit a cadence, rather than creating new ones. But we’ll cover both scenarios just in case.
To edit a cadence, go to Configure>Cadences. Hover on the name of the cadence that you’d like to edit, and click the three vertical dots, then choose “Edit cadence.” From the Edit cadence screen, you can change the name of the cadence, its start date, and see which timeframes will be affected by a change in the start date. The start dates of the timeframes will simply be altered relative to the change in the cadence’s start date.
In the screenshot below, we’ll edit an annual cadence to start at the beginning of the fiscal year, rather than the calendar year.
A change to a cadence will only reflect that cadence, so in our example, we may then want to edit our quarterly cadence to match this change from calendar year to fiscal year.
To create a new cadence, follow these steps.
Before creating a new cadence, check the list of current cadences to make sure that this cadence (eg a quarterly cadence) doesn’t already exist in your account and that you won’t be creating a duplicate cadence. Go to Configure>Cadences to check this.
Then, head to Configure>Cadences>Add Cadence. You can choose the Type of cadence (ie the length of its timeframes, including a custom length that you set), then click “Save and Add Timeframes.”
From the Add Timeframe screen, you can alter the name of your timeframes, their start date, and choose how many timeframes you’d like to be created (how many times the cadence should be repeated). You can always add additional timeframes at a later date – see below.
Create, edit, or delete timeframes
It can sometimes be the case that you wish to edit the name, change the specific dates, or even delete a particular timeframe. Just head to Configure>Timeframes, hover over the timeframe you wish to edit, and click the three vertical dots. Then click “Edit" or "Delete" timeframe. Note that deleting a timeframe will also delete any OKRs or Initiatives in that timeframe.
If you’re running out of timeframes in a given cadence, and need to add more further in the future, here’s how: Head to Configure>Timeframes>Add Timeframe, select the cadence to which you’d like to add additional timeframes, and choose how many additional timeframes you’d like to create.
Different timeframes for separate business units
Some organizations want to have different areas of their business setting goals in different timeframes. For example, one country, department, or continent may be setting goals in line with the fiscal year, whereas the rest of the organization is using the calendar year. We wouldn’t recommend this, particularly if you’re just starting out with OKRs. But if you’d like to achieve this in Perdoo, there are two options available to you:
Add new timeframes to a cadence. In our example, we’d add a new timeframe for the fiscal year to our annual cadence, and then ask the relevant business area to set goals in that timeframe.
If you’d like to view these separate timeframes on your Roadmap, you’ll need to add these timeframes under a separate cadence. To do this, read the instructions above to add a new custom cadence, and set up new timeframes. You will then be able to see this new cadence (and its OKRs) in your Roadmap alongside your other cadence.