Back to Case Studies

Garanti BBVA Teknoloji

Implemented fully-fleshed OKR cycles that began with four teams and quintuplicated the number of teams through expansion.

Who is Garanti BBVA Teknoloji?

Garanti BBVA Technology provides organizations of the Garanti BBVA brand with technology infrastructure, software development on different platforms, internet applications, integration, system management, security management, project management and office application services.

Industry: Technology  Size: 2000+  Location: İstanbul



Garanti BBVA Teknoloji, as one of Turkey's leading companies in the financial technologies sector, continuously follows global developments with a principle of ongoing improvement and excellence, integrating successful technologies and practices into its operations. In recent years, organizations have started to leverage the OKR (Objectives and Key Results) method to ensure that their strategic goals are embraced and realized by all employees. Garanti BBVA Teknoloji initiated its OKR practices with pilot applications in 2020 and by 2022, it had become a strategic focal point. This study elaborates on the implementation process of the OKR methodology and the gains achieved during this period.

What is OKR?

OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results. In Turkish, it is expressed as "Hedefler ve Anahtar Sonuçlar". OKR is a goal management framework that defines an organization's strategic objectives, the key results required to achieve these objectives, and the metrics used to measure them. OKR consists of two components:

Objective: An objective defines a long-term outcome that an organization aims to achieve.

Key Result: A key result is a challenging and measurable indicator that plays a critical role in achieving the set objective.

Why OKR?

Before implementing the OKR practice at Garanti BBVA Teknoloji, various studies were conducted to understand how OKR supports the existing agile work culture, promotes working towards a common goal, and enhances performance.

At the beginning of the OKR transformation journey, the prominent needs identified by the company were as follows:

  • Improved adoption of the company's strategy by employees,
  • Focusing limited resources on the most prioritized tasks,
  • Uniting different teams around a common goal within the same OKR team,
  • Creating awareness about priorities and increasing motivation through successful achievement of these priorities,
  • Elevating the company's agility capabilities to a higher level.

There are numerous successful examples where OKR has played a facilitative role in agile organizations, which significantly influenced Garanti BBVA Teknoloji's decision to undergo this transformation. Garanti BBVA Teknoloji positions the OKR transformation as a facilitator for different teams to come together to solve common problems.

Another important point to emphasize here is the fact that a company's vision and strategy can remain abstract for its employees. Garanti BBVA Teknoloji aims to make the strategy more understandable and tangible for its employees through OKRs. With OKRs, it becomes clearer to employees which priority of the organization their work serves, thereby helping them find meaning in their work and increasing their motivation, which are among the most anticipated benefits.


How Did Garanti BBVA Teknoloji's OKR Journey Begin?

“If you don't know where you are going,you'll end up someplace else.” -Yogi Berra 

Before the OKR transformation, Garanti BBVA Technology was already a company that excelled in in-depth strategic planning, frequently setting its goals and priorities, and consistently communicating these priorities with its teams. With OKR, they aim to establish a stronger connection between their strategy, initiatives, and projects.

By adopting the OKR methodology, which is increasingly preferred by leading global companies in strategic planning and goal management and gaining popularity, Garanti BBVA Teknoloji took its first step in the OKR transformation journey in 2020.

During this process, a strategic partnership was formed with Melon, one of the leading consulting firms in the industry, and OKR practices were piloted in four different units of the company. Following the pilot implementation initiated with four teams, with a satisfaction rate of over 90% and positive feedback, it was decided to start the second phase of dissemination with a broader initiative-focused application of the OKR methodology in 2023, fully supported by the company's top management.


Garanti BBVA Teknoloji's OKR Cycle Process

It's crucial that the OKR cycle aligns with the organization's overall structure and operations. For Garanti BBVA Teknoloji, the initiation of the OKR cycle was designed to start with the company's strategic priorities and the participation of top-level executives leading these priorities, serving as the first step in designing the cycle.

Even before the OKR topic was determined, all leaders in the organization, including the General Manager and Deputy General Managers, were briefed on the purpose of OKR and examples of its implementation in other companies. Subsequently, specific discussions were held with sponsor leaders and initiative leaders on the subject. The dynamics and operations within the company were shared with the consulting firm. The consulting firm focused on understanding the needs through one-on-one meetings with initiative leaders and conveying the benefits that OKR could provide.

During these meetings, information was gathered about the leaders' goals and the expected impacts. After determining the purpose that could be the subject of OKR based on these discussions, relevant managers were given time to form an OKR team. Following the formation of the OKR team around the right subject and with the right players, comprehensive and practical OKR training was provided to the team. Subsequently, the first step of the cycle, which is the OKR setting process, began.


The OKR cycle operates as follows: Quarterly OKR Setting, alignment with the sponsor and, if necessary, other teams, weekly half-hour check-in meetings with the participation of all OKR team members, a review workshop at the end of the quarter, and determination of the team's new OKR topic. Workshops were organized with OKR teams to define quarterly OKRs. In these workshops, with the participation of initiative leaders, it is expected that leaders will guide and direct teams regarding strategic priorities where needed. In addition to the role of the OKR team leader (initiative leader) for each OKR team, top-level executives in the organization were also expected to sponsor. After reaching an agreement on the OKRs, all sponsors and leaders were informed, and final adjustments were made based on the feedback received.

After determining the OKRs, teams hold weekly check-in meetings to share their progress and record advancements in OKR Excel sheets they maintain on a shared platform. Additionally, to support the process, sponsor leaders attend monthly check-in meetings to listen to the teams' needs and challenges and provide support when necessary.

At the end of each quarterly cycle, retrospective evaluations are conducted for the respective quarter, lessons learned are discussed, and these learnings are ensured to be transferred to the next cycle.

The successful operation of the OKR cycle depends on the correct execution of roles and steps determined according to the needs and structure of the organization. In this process, characteristics like flexibility and adaptability are of great importance.

Second Pilot Phase and Expansion

Following the first pilot phase, the focus shifted towards creating a larger number of OKR teams over a year-long period to work with OKRs. The successful outcomes of the pilot phase were shared within the organization, and there was a demand from the top management to establish OKR teams in more areas with strategic priorities. Initially, during meetings with leaders, priority focus areas that could be the OKR topics for the relevant year were determined.

Leaders interested in experiencing OKR were asked to determine who should be part of the OKR teams to be established for the relevant initiatives. In this process, team formation was provided considering dependencies.

After the teams were determined, participants were subjected to OKR training. Following the training, a workshop was organized with the leaders to determine their OKRs.

Lastly, to strengthen and spread the OKR experience, OKR Champions were identified. These champions consist of a Project Manager and an Agile Coach for each initiative. OKR Workshops, specially organized for each initiative, were held to determine objectives and key results. With the support of our consulting firm, the existence of teams adopting and implementing the methodology further motivated us.

By the end of 2023, 22 teams had experienced OKRs. When OKRs were not paired with any performance indicator or scorecard, it was observed that teams set more challenging and creative goals.

Some OKR Examples

This section includes real-life OKR examples from Garanti BBVA Teknoloji. The effective use and contributions to success of each example are explained.


Objective: To Reduce Mainframe Load for Cost Optimization

KR1: Reduce the number of batch jobs defined in MF by 10%

KR2: Reduce the number of MF batch job runs by 10%

Impact: By identifying areas with high Mainframe dependency, significant reductions were achieved in both the number and runs of jobs. This OKR enabled the organization to analyze tasks with Mainframe dependencies and achieve results in areas with genuinely high dependencies. This OKR team facilitated cross-functional individuals to collaboratively and agilely progress towards the goal on the same issue.


Objective: To Achieve Mainframe CPU Gain for Cost Optimization

KR: Achieve a CPU gain of 25 hours/day

Impact: Providing CPU gains for efficiently operating systems is one of the organization's top priorities. In this area with very high dependency, first, the areas where the most gains could be made were identified, and actions that could have an impact were determined collaboratively. As a result, significant CPU gains were achieved in a short period of three months, much faster compared to previous periods.


OKR Coaches Selection and Development

To support the company's OKR transformation process with a robust change management approach, support has been obtained from many roles outside of the leadership and team. Agile coaches and project manager roles, who have been working on the organization's agility for a long time, have also been ensured to play an important role in change management. Through tools like weekly bulletins, meetings, and experience-sharing sessions, this team has continuously increased their knowledge about OKR implementation and other company experiences. By examining and sharing best practices together, the aim has been to elevate the experiences of OKR coaches to a higher level. At the end of this process, experts who took on the role of OKR Coach, in collaboration with the consultancy firm, shadow coached for two quarterly cycles. By the end of two quarters, they began completing all cycle steps for other OKR teams without consultancy support.

For each OKR team, at least one internal coach has been assigned in addition to the consultancy firm coaches. Internal OKR coaches have taken full responsibility for cycle steps such as OKR determination, check-in management, and end-of-quarter evaluation with the team after two quarterly consultancy-supported OKR cycles. Additionally, opportunities have been provided for internal OKR coaches to speak at international conferences where they can share their experiences.


OKR Tracking Tool Selection and Usage

During the first pilot period, actions were tracked via Excel spreadsheets without the need for dedicated software. In the expansion phase, teams included in the first pilot period were encouraged to use different OKR software solutions.

To determine an OKR tracking tool that would serve the purpose and meet the needs, there was an opportunity to test four different OKR software solutions actively used both domestically and internationally. These tools, which offer various alternatives, were experienced, and the table created by our consultancy firm, which was preferred by the teams and deemed user-friendly, was chosen. Therefore, the journey continued without the need to acquire another tool.

Other Steps Related to Change Management

Employee Experience Interviews and Videos: The experiences of employees in different roles were recorded and these interviews were broadcasted through various channels within the organization. By enriching the content with new videos and transforming these videos into podcast formats, reaching wider audiences is planned.

Experience Sharing Among OKR Coaches: Continuing the experience-sharing platforms among OKR Coaches, learning from other institutions and sharing these experiences with the teams inside the organization is planned to continue.

Gemba Walks and Meetings: Gemba Walks and meetings were organized to bring together senior management and teams, sharing the OKR process and its impacts directly, and creating an environment that increases interaction.

OKR Newsletter Publishing: By regularly publishing the OKR newsletter, developments and success stories within the organization will be shared, and the progress of the OKR process will continue to be kept open to everyone.

Joint Case Study Preparation with Melon: A significant step was taken to share our OKR experiences with other institutions by preparing a joint case study with our consultancy firm, Melon.


Challenges Encountered and Overcoming Strategies

Garanti BBVA Teknoloji's OKR journey required overcoming some challenges in reaching strategic objectives. Overcoming these challenges and their corresponding strategies have contributed to improving the process itself and making the organization more resilient.

Creating a Desire to Use/Try OKRs in Teams

One of the challenges that Garanti BBVA Teknoloji faced in its OKR implementation was the questions from teams about the connections between OKRs and performance evaluation tools. Garanti BBVA Teknoloji consciously did not establish a direct link between OKRs and individual performance systems. Training sessions emphasized that OKRs are different from performance measurement tools like scorecards, focusing on collaboration, innovation, and achieving strategic objectives. This understanding reduced teams' resistance to the OKR process and enabled more effective participation in reaching strategic goals. Additionally, interactions between teams that have used OKRs and achieved results and new OKR teams have helped to correctly define expectations related to OKRs.


Coordination of Multi-Functional Teams:

Ensuring coordination between cross-functional teams was one of the initial challenges experienced in the OKR team formation process. To overcome this challenge, internal communication channels were strengthened, and regular team meetings were encouraged.

Ensuring Active Participation of Leaders:

Securing the active participation of managers, who are often caught up in a fast-paced environment, has been challenging for some teams, although not all. To boost manager engagement, 1:1 meetings were conducted with managers to raise awareness about the importance of their roles. The role of OKR team captain was generally undertaken by Unit Managers. In some cases, team manager roles also assumed the role of OKR team captain. OKR team captains were involved in every stage of the OKR process, including check-ins, ensuring their active participation throughout. In instances where active participation was lacking, decreases in team motivation and progress were observed.

Managing Dependencies:

Inter-team dependencies have sometimes posed challenges in achieving objectives, especially when the right people were not initially included in the team. This challenge was overcome by clearly identifying dependencies from the outset and developing strategies to incorporate them into the team in a timely manner.

Determining the Right Metrics – KR:

At times, identifying measurable objectives and metrics (KR) has proven difficult. In cases where the tendency to set activity-based KRs persisted, additional efforts were made with the teams to identify the right metric. Despite these efforts, when teams still needed preparation to determine the right metric, space was provided for teams to set activity-based KRs in the first quarter and then shift towards metric-focused KRs in the subsequent quarter. Teams that initially set activity-based KRs were guided to set specific and measurable KRs in the second quarter.


Key Points to Consider:

Scope and Purpose of OKRs: One of the most common mistakes is trying to manage everything with OKRs. OKRs should facilitate focusing on what truly matters and where impact can be made. Care should be taken when forming the OKR team, ensuring that the team includes all parties who will work towards the defined objectives.

Definition of OKRs: Objectives should aim for outcomes rather than outputs. They should be simple, clear, actionable, and motivate team members. When determining Key Results (KRs), measurability and setting the main goal are important. Typically, the number of KRs supporting an objective is 2 or 3, which allows the team to focus better.

Not Viewing OKRs as Performance Management: The purpose of OKRs is not performance management. On the contrary, the goal of OKRs is to encourage employees to be bold and creative by focusing on specific objectives. When employees understand the purpose of OKRs correctly, they can aim for more challenging goals and generate new ideas.

Regular Review and Adjustment: Regularly reviewing and, if necessary, redefining OKRs is crucial. This process ensures that the objectives remain aligned with the organization's overall vision and strategy. It also allows for tracking progress and making adjustments when needed.

The gains from Garanti BBVA Teknoloji's OKR journey are as follows:

Prioritization and Increased Autonomy: Teams gained the ability to determine their own priorities in line with the organizational strategy. This allowed teams to focus more on established initiatives and gain more autonomy.

Understanding of Strategic Objectives: Strategic objectives became more understandable for employees and team members. This made it easier to understand why certain tasks were being done, and it became possible to answer this question with measurable results. This made the benefits of truly prioritized issues and actions more visible.

Increased Creativity: Teams began to produce different solutions by thinking outside the box. The OKR process encouraged teams to focus on their self-determined goals, promoting creative thinking and the development of new solutions.

Management of Dependencies and Increased Accountability: The OKR process facilitated the management of dependencies and enabled everyone to take responsibility, leading to faster and more efficient outcomes. Additionally, the sense of responsibility within OKR teams increased, allowing teams to reach their goals more quickly.

Future Expansion Strategy:

Reaching More Teams and Creating New OKR Teams: We will continue to create OKR teams in line with our focus areas and initiatives. This will enable us to focus more effectively on organizational goals and generate solutions.

Continuous Communication with Initiative Leaders: We will maintain continuous communication with initiative leaders and support the OKR process by taking their guidance. This will increase the contributions of leaders in determining and tracking OKRs.

Rapid Response to Demands and Team Formation: We will quickly respond to requests from the organization and initiate the formation process of new OKR teams. This will ensure the adaptation of the OKR process with flexibility and agility.

Coaching Support and Satisfaction Monitoring: We will continue to provide internal coaching support to our existing teams and regularly monitor the OKR satisfaction of the teams. This will increase the commitment of the teams to the process, leading to more successful outcomes.

OKR Health-Checks and Monitoring of Improvement Actions: We will conduct OKR Health-Checks for our teams to evaluate their performance and identify areas for improvement. This will ensure continuous improvement of the process and enable teams to work more effectively. At GarantiBBVA Teknoloji, we will continue our efforts to organically expand OKR and increase its visibility within the organization by evaluating the outputs of the health-check study conducted by our consulting firm.

In conclusion; Garanti BBVA Teknoloji's OKR journey has made significant progress since 2022. During this period, 22 OKR teams were successfully established, and over 200 employees completed OKR training. Additionally, with meetings held with more than 40 sponsor leaders and the support of our consultants, significant steps have been taken towards the adoption and dissemination of OKR within the organization.

Throughout this process, a series of important learnings were obtained, such as strengthening communication and collaboration between teams, setting goals more clearly, and measuring success. Through health-check studies and experience-sharing events, valuable feedback was collected to improve and enhance the OKR process.

In the future, aiming to advance these gains further, the goal is to contribute more effectively to the organization's objectives. By establishing more OKR teams and encouraging knowledge sharing among employees, the aim is to make OKR an integral part of the organizational culture. In doing so, the goal is to strengthen a culture of continuous learning and development, making the organization a result and impact-focused institution that provides better services to its customers in a sustainable manner.

Case Studies