Workfront recently announced its acquisition of Atiim, a leading OKR (Objectives and Key Results) vendor. It plans to offer an integrated tool set called Workfront Goals in the coming year, connecting the objectives tracking front end (OKR software) to its work management application (Workfront, formerly known as @Task).
Workfront’s success as a work management platform has been fueled by the product’s flexibility for projects of any size with any level of planning. While the solution makes sense with formalized project management practices, adoption is natural when you have unplanned, poorly resourced small projects that are more to-do lists than masterpieces of structured planning.
However, a common concern has been the lack of new project intake workflow and the ability to connect the project to strategic drivers. As a result, the database soon begins to look like a big project repository without the order imposed by strategic portfolio alignment.
The upcoming integration with Atiim makes conceptual sense. After all, the OKR solution vendors got their early momentum from the failure of PPM vendors to show adoption across the entire portfolio. Hiving off the top-line strategic goals and objectives introduced a deliberate layer of abstraction between goals and implementation details, allowing flexibility to execute in a less structured environment.
By re-connecting the previously abstracted ideas of goal setting and execution, more-mature organizations can run in a more holistic environment.
One concern won’t go away any time soon: adoption. Full PPM solutions like Workfront will quickly expose any lack of complete adoption and diligent content management. Workfront Goals will connect the strategic and execution dots, as long as you keep maintaining those dots.
Source: Workfront at SoftwareReviews, November 2019
Conceptually, it is strange to see a PPM solution without a solid front end for strategy, goals, metrics, and results. The acquisition makes sense and sets the stage for a strong Organizational Change Management (OCM) play in the future. For now, users will have to focus on project-level adoption since the software can only connect dots that exist.