Keeping your team on track: Getting to grips with Microsoft Viva Goals

By Jason Poyner

It’s the challenge that organisations big and small alike face – drawing that link between big picture goals and the day to day work of every employee.

At Deptive, we’ve been on a journey to improve how we set, manage and track progress on our goals. We watched as Microsoft developed Viva Goals, its own platform for tracking objectives and key results (OKR), which it has rolled out across its entire business.

Late last year, we adopted Viva Goals ourselves, initially for senior management, but with a view to eventually rolling it out to every member of the Deptive team. Previously, when it came to OKRs, we simply ran a live Excel spreadsheet, with a dashboard of key metrics and indicators included.

Moving on from our spreadsheet

It was a bit clunky, and because I largely maintained it, the team didn’t feel like it had much ownership over the OKRs. That’s a key aspect of Viva Goals – it enables each member of the organisation to have visibility into the high level goals, but pair them with the sub-goals and sub-objectives they have responsibility for.

According to Microsoft, which has observed usage of Viva Goals across thousands of its employees, it led many teams to become more goal-oriented.

“They have learned quickly how to focus their work through a few clear objectives with measurable key results. The most successful teams have developed a set of habits to keep their OKRs up to date, whether through relying on weekly ship room meetings and monthly email updates in engineering or holding quarterly recognition and refresh meetings in marketing,” Microsoft reported last year.

What has it meant for Deptive? It’s still early days, and we are yet to fully adopt Viva Goals across the entire company. But we like what we see. We have adopted the OKR framework that underpins Viva Goals. For others considering doing so, Microsoft offers free training.

At Deptive, we have our “three year moves”, our big picture objectives, our annual objectives, and per-quarter objectives.

These are much more easy to gain visibility into and track the progress of in Viva Goals than in that old Excel spreadsheet. It’s incredibly useful for aligning goals across team members, and drawing that line between employees and Deptive’s strategic goals, helping them understand their impact.

A traffic light system tells you very quickly the status of progress towards your collection of goals. This isn’t a perfect measure of progress but you can manually adjust it to account for actions and work that isn’t neatly accounted for in a “percentage completed” progress bar.

Real-time updates

Automation is part of the appeal with Viva Goals, and this will only grow in value as more integration with Microsoft 365 is included. At the moment, you can feed data from Excel into Viva Goals, allowing you to include the latest data as real-world indicators of progress towards goals.

It could be sales data, website traffic statistics, or training modules completed. We can only wait to see what the AI features of Microsoft’s Copilot will bring to Viva Goals. It could potentially analyse previous years’ OKR data to suggest better approaches to achieving objectives and key results.

There’s a bit of a learning curve with Viva Goals – nine months into using it, we are really just getting to grips with the methodology. But as of this quarter, from July 2023, we are fully running our strategic execution from Viva Goals.

There are a number of well-established third-party OKR management solutions on the market, so Viva Goals isn’t necessarily a candidate for replacing them. But if you are invested in the Microsoft ecosystem, it’s a worthy addition that will increasingly leverage all of the data you work with in key Microsoft applications, like SharePoint, Office, Teams, and Dynamics.

Viva Goals requires an additional licence at a cost of NZ$9.10 per user per month. It’s hard to overstate the value of having everyone on the same page and working to a common set of well understood goals. Before long, everyone at Deptive will make full use of Viva Goals.

The real power of Viva Goals is in allowing every team member to have input into those goals and help steer the path towards achieving them. We can’t wait to get the whole team involved in doing so.

Interested in Viva Goals for your own objectives and key results management? Get in touch with Deptive for more insights into our own experience of this powerful platform.

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