KPIs vs. OKRs vs. Metrics, Which Is Best To Use?

Still at crossroads on whether to use an OKR or KPI as performance measurements for your new project?

January 3, 2023
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Performance assessment is a very fundamental aspect of company growth. Every business, at each point in time, should know its level of progress. This awareness helps to identify result-producing strategies and those that are not.

Performance evaluation can be carried out using different methods - OKRs, KPIs and metrics are different options. So, it's essential to know the best method to use in tracking your company’s progress. 

We know that selecting the right method can be challenging due to the peculiarities of the available types. So, it's necessary to understand how to execute each type and who should be responsible for its facilitation. 

This article will explain the differences between these growth indicators, when to use them and how to combine them. 

Let's jump right in!

Is There A Difference Between OKRs And KPIs?

Yes, there's a difference between OKRs and KPIs.

Key performance indicators, KPIs, are applied to ongoing projects while OKRs are best suited for futuristic planning. Basically, OKRs place emphasis on plans, while KPIs focus mainly on the outcome.

Here are some other differences:

  1. Constituents

KPIs are metrics that help indicate or measure the status of a particular project, enabling you promptly take actions when necessary. For instance, a KPI could be the number of cash transactions processed in the last quarter. 

The OKR, on the other hand, could be a combination of objectives such as to be the foremost fintech startup in the region. And a key result will be attaining a retention rate of 85%.

  1. Timeframe

OKRs have timeframes for their implementation. It could be quarterly or annually, while KPIs evaluate projects on an ongoing basis; they are not limited by timeframes.

OKRs are strategic goal-setting frameworks, allowing them to comprise ambitious and bold plans; they are ideal tools for sales and marketing teams.

In addition, OKRs are routinely reviewed to suit current market trends, while KPIs are not always re-evaluated, they are typically applied to another project or plan.

  1. Collaboration

A significant difference is that OKRs are developed collaboratively. OKR development helps to promote employee engagement and employee satisfaction. Team members actively contribute to the crafting of team OKRs, which eventually form the bedrock of the overall company's OKR. 

KPIs, however are pre-determined metrics sometimes defined by employees' inputs. In most cases, they are defined by the company's management. Their essential function is performance evaluation -  Did we achieve this plan?

Are OKRs Metrics?

OKRs are a goal-setting framework, not metrics. Metrics are elements of measurement that can be quantified and can be used to monitor progress within the OKR.

Usually, they are developed by using inputs from data sources. For instance, retention rate is a metric that can be used to track progress towards an objective; 50% retention rate by the end of the second quarter.

Metrics are a way for you to track and monitor your progress towards a specific goal. Put simply, metrics are how you determine if you’re winning or losing. 

OKRs, however, are a combination of objectives and key results. Objectives show the big picture (e.g., increase revenue by $10k), and key results are the specific activities to accomplish those objectives (e.g., increase sales by 10% by increasing conversion rate by 1%).

Is OKR A Replacement For KPI?

An OKR is not a replacement for KPI. It's crucial to track and monitor important aspects of a strategic plan which a KPI can do effectively. And replacing one for the other may have a negative effect on result satisfaction and by extension, company's success.

Here are some similarities and differences of KPIs and OKRs:

  1. Functions

OKR is saying, moving the number of downloads from a thousand in January to ten thousand in December of the same year. And the number of downloads indicates the KPI. 

So, while KPI tells where you are currently, OKR is about where you want to be. 

  1. Definition

OKRs and KPIs perform different functions and play specific roles in the company's overall success. KPIs serve as the platform on which OKRs operate. 

So, the inputs from KPIs tell a lot about whether the company is doing well or not and which aspects of business require urgent attention.

  1. Interdependence

Neither is better than the other in helping to reach the desired goal; they work hand in hand.

What you intend to measure or assess determines which to apply; performance evaluation for a program being rerun with a view of boosting its outcome is done using KPI. An OKR will help to birth an entirely new program.

Can OKRs And KPIs Work Together?

Yes, they can work together. It's good practice to use both OKRs and KPIs to reach a goal.

OKRs and KPIs, when monitored simultaneously, paint a more detailed and extensive overview of the company's state of affairs. This allows information concerning the different aspects of the company's project to be readily available for strategic plans.

The KPI provides a performance evaluation that is broad in nature. This evaluation helps you come up with the different initiatives that can be done to achieve a set goal. And that’s where an OKR comes in - to clearly define a strategic plan and the measurable key results.

Sometimes KPIs become the key results. For instance, if the KPI indicates that sales are lagging, an ambitious OKR can be developed to focus on boosting overall profits. This can be done by geometrically increasing the number of product units sold and the number of sales now serves as the key result.

Subsequently achieving an OKR might require the creation of new KPIs to evaluate the company's performance post-OKR achievement; an OKR can be used to remodify a KPI.

For OKRs and KPIs to work together effectively, regular communication between employees and managers is essential. This entails meeting frequently to discuss progress, highlight opportunities, and identify challenges.

Assembly helps you seamlessly combine your OKRs and KPIs perfectly. Sign up to learn more.


Ultimately, the best way to measure progress is by setting goals. However, identifying the ideal metrics for your business depends on what you're trying to measure.

Whether you use OKRs, KPIs, or metrics, you should set your own goals to determine how to show the impact of those goals on your business. So, any organization with intentions of upscaling must prioritize performance evaluation at all levels of the organization. 

And companies can achieve this by successfully integrating performance measurement in every workflow aspect makes it possible to spot areas requiring changes or improvements.

This strategy results in much better outcomes and, by extension, improves employee and customer satisfaction.

The important thing is not just to know how your company has grown in the past but how it will grow in the future.

It's standard practice to combine OKRs and KPIs in your goal-setting framework; get it right with Assembly. Book a free demo today.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Assembly SOC 2 compliant?

Yes, at Assembly, security is a top priority. Each quarter, we have ongoing security work that is everyone’s responsibility. While we maintain a strong security posture, it was important for us to prove to our customers that we do everything we claim to do. This led us to pursue a SOC 2 Type II report that would provide evidence of our compliance with industry gold-standard security practice.

What's the ROI for employee recognition?

There is study after study showing that employee recognition leads to increased engagement. This in return creates an environment where employees are happier and more motivated which increase productivity and reduces voluntary turnover significantly. In order to filled critical roles, companies tend to spend nearly twice the value of an annual salary. Assembly is an investment in your employees that supports your bottom line.

Does Assembly offer longer-term contracts?

Yes, we will offer contracts for companies with longer-term agreements to help larger customers have more certainty around future costs.

The minimum agreement term is a 12-month subscription.

Does Assembly offer onboarding support?

We do and for FREE! Any new customer needing further support to get started with Assembly to ensure you're set up for success can request custom onboarding support. Improving your employee experience is about much more than just using our amazing software; it’s about transforming your business to create a workplace that people love. That’s much easier to do with the personal support and advice from our passionate people experts.

Is there a free version of Assembly?

Yes. We offer a completely free plan for up to 50 team members. This plan is intended for teams or organizations that are looking to get started with an employee engagement tool. Keep in mind, this plan is limited in features.

All customers can open an Assembly account for free and get started without a credit card. Then you can change plans as necessary.

How much do rewards cost?

At the time of redemption (when your employees exchange their points for a paid reward) you'll pay face value. If a reward is a $10 Amazon gift card, your cost will be $10. All paid rewards are billed for on a monthly basis.

The good news is that you don't have to pay for rewards upfront because we only charge you when points are redeemed, not when they're earned.

Does Assembly offer discounts?

We offer discounts or educational or charitable organizations. In order to secure a discount, you'll first need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

For all other organizations, we are willing to consider longer-term agreements in exchange for discounts. To set up annual plans or longer, you will need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

How do I cancel my plan if needed?

If you're on a month to month plan, you can go here and cancel anytime. If you're having concerns or need help setting up your account for success, you can always book a demo with a customer support specialist.

If you're on a longer-term custom plan, you'll need to reach out to your customer support specialist to cancel your account or email us at

What customizations are available?

Great question! You can customize your core values to match your organization's to boost and track alignment. You can change your currency from the 🏆 emoji (our default) to any emoji of your choice. You can swap our logo for your own. You can also set up company culture rewards such as, "Lunch with the CEO," "Buy a book on us," and so much more!

Who can give or receive recognition?

While we recommend a peer to peer set up where anyone in your organization can give or receive recognition, you can set up Assembly however you want. If you need to limit the people who can give or receive recognition, that's perfectly fine and can be done from your Admin, here.

What integrations are available?

Assembly connects to the tools your employees use every day to offer an easy, seamless experience with minimal change management.  

Assembly has integrations with HCM/HRIS systems like ADP, Google, Office 365, and Slack. We also integrate with communication tools like Slack and Teams so you and your employees can access Assembly wherever they work now.

What's your average adoption rate?

That depends on the company's permissions set up. That said, over 90% of the employees on Assembly's platform are recognized on a monthly basis. That means nearly every employee across all of our customers are receiving regular recognition from their peers, managers, or leadership. We're extremely proud of this.

Must rewards be set up to use Assembly?

They are not required. You can use Assembly without having rewards set up. However, we don't recommend it if you intend to have a high adoption and usage rate. You can always keep the costs down by offering internal culture rewards that are fulfilled by you internally.

Are points required to use Assembly?

No, you can remove allowances from anyone or everyone. It's up to you but we do recommend using points whether they're worth a real dollar value or not. Companies that use points have a much higher engagement rate even if those points don't exchange for real dollars.

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