Goal setting is one of the cornerstones of organizational and individual development in the workplace. But setting goals is simply the first step in the process of achieving results. Progress needs to be measured, goals need to be met, and shortcomings need to be examined.
The best way to ensure that your organization is completing its goals is through goal management software. Choosing the right goal management software for your organization often boils down to understanding what you want to focus on: performance management, project management, goal tracking, individual development, or something more generalized.
To help you sort through which software is best for you, we’ve compiled a list of the best goal management software, broken down into categories based upon function. As you start setting organizational goals for 2022, you can use these goal management software systems to help measure your progress through next year and beyond.
Let’s take a look at the best goal management software systems we’ve found.
Performance Management Systems
Performance Management Software allows organizations to easily evaluate employee performance through a host of goal-setting features, check-ins, performance reviews, and data analysis. In a nutshell, this software lets you connect goal-setting with the formal review process in a single space.
Instead of using one piece of software to track goal progress and another software to set up, fill out, and track employee reviews; you can use one program to run both. This reduces time spent ferrying information from one software to another come review time, and it reduces the likelihood that information will get lost in the shuffle.
Performance management software excels in supporting cascading goals for your company, tracking KPIs for employees, and driving employee development by connecting goal tracking to employee performance reviews. Employees see how attaining concrete goals equates to positive performance feedback, which ultimately drives positive compensation decisions.
One of the great aspects of performance management software is that you can track goals at all different levels of your organization -- from the team to the individual -- across monthly, quarterly, and annual bases. This flexible approach to performance management allows you to tailor the software to your organization’s needs -- expanding or contracting the goal setting and review processes as you see fit.
Performance Management Software is one of the most robust and integrated types of goal management software on the market. One of its key selling points is its ability to connect goal management with performance evaluation. Let’s take a look at other key features that make performance management systems some of our favorite softwares for goal setting.
Integrate Goals into Performance Review
The primary goal management feature of performance management software is the ability for employees and managers to set trackable, quantifiable goals that are easily integrated into the performance review process. Employees set reviews and update their progress throughout the year. Managers, conversely, can see their employees’ progress on their goals, and easily bring the completion of goals into review decisions.
This is the heart of performance management review. Employees are empowered to set individual goals and then are held accountable for those goals come review time.
With performance management systems, managers can customize the feedback process to turn goals into positive day-to-day actions. Feedback can be provided annually, quarterly, and monthly; but it can also be provided on a continuous basis and for specific projects.
This ability to scale up feedback can increase productivity through positive encouragement and shout-outs; it can also help draw attention to areas that need more attention before these become significant problems. In this way, continuous feedback prevents surprises come annual review time.
Streamline Your Processes
Performance Management Systems automate and integrate so many steps in your goal setting and performance review process. Goals are set and managed within the system that handles reviews, so examining pertinent goal data for a review is a breeze. Goal setting itself can be further streamlined through automatically messaging and reminding employees that goals need to be set, along with further messages that remind employees of their goal completion progress.
The review process itself can easily be streamlined through customizing permissions and automations -- reducing the back-and-forth needed to nominate reviewers, complete reviews, and set up in-person check-ins. By automatically sending necessary forms and goal information to appropriate parties, Performance Management Systems can further cut down on unnecessary layers of red tape.
Performance Management Systems: Our Picks
Performance Management Systems are robust softwares that automate and streamline your goal management process. Here are out top two choices for Performance Management Systems.
PerformYard creates a custom performance management system that works for you.
From continuous feedback to annual goal-setting meetings, PerformYard measures progress and gets your whole organization on track with goals.
PerformYard really shines when it comes to the sheer amount of customization it offers clients. You have the flexibility to structure your review process as holistic as you’d like, from simple manager-direct hire reviews to 360 feedback processes. You can create cascading goals that communicate your company-wide strategy from the executive suite to the most junior position, and ensure that individual goals support your vision.
The data insights that PerformYard provides at the individual, team, and company level help your organization get a crystal-clear picture of your present performance as well as your performance over time.
These data-powered insights, along with a streamlined and customizable review process and an integrated goal management system, make PerformYard the best performance management software on the market.
PerformancePro is another formidable Performance Management System that streamlines your entire performance management process. From check-ins to annual reviews, PerformancePro automates and integrates each step of your review cycle.
PerformancePro stands out with their unique configurable goal library that lets you tie compensation to goal achievement through merit increase modeling.
Performance Management Systems Tie Goals to Reviews
Performance Management Systems like PerformYard excel by tying goal setting and goal completion to performance reviews. These types of software are ideal for any organization looking to streamline their review process, gain insights into employee productivity, and turn the abstract concept of goal setting into a critical part of employee development.
Project Management Software
Project Management Software breaks goals into smaller tasks that employees can track from inception to completion.
So if your team is working on something complicated, like producing the Super Bowl, you can use project Management Software to break this up into smaller tasks (complete Dr. Dre’s contract), and then track those tasks as you complete them.
Project Management Software is ideal when you need to focus on organizing, tracking, and completing projects -- particularly projects involving multiple colleagues. These are project-based goals, as opposed to developmental goals or quota-based goals.
Developmental goals (I want to take 5 LinkedIn courses in my field this month) or quota-based goals (I need to hit $300,000 in sales this year) aren’t trackable in project management software. Instead, the individual projects and steps that make up these goals (complete demo for prospect, send contract to client) are the focus of project management software.
Therefore, we believe that project management software is a good goal management option for organizations who have a strong focus on completing projects -- particularly projects that require large teams working together.
Project management software can also complement other forms of goal management software such as performance management systems. Your overarching, yearly goals can be comprised of projects that you can track through project management systems. It all depends upon your organizational needs.
Project Management Software excels at helping multiple teammates collaborate on their projects. Let’s take a look at some of the key features that help teams collaborate to break projects into manageable tasks.
To-Do Lists and Team Assignments
Project management software revolves around to-dos -- be they lists, cards, or tasks. On a user’s project board, to-do lists (comprised of tasks) can be assigned to different teammates, moved between teammates, and moved between different steps of completion. This helps all teammates understand who is working on what, what still needs to be completed, and what can be marked as completed.
Project management software enables easy communication between teammates. In project dashboards, teammates can comment, attach files, affix due dates, and provide updates on each task within the goal. These updates are often automatically communicated via email or a messaging software, such as Slack, to ensure that no update is missed.
Project Management Software: Our Picks
Two project management software suites stand out to us: Asana and Trello. Let’s take a quick look at each to see which project management system may be best for you.
Asana is a project management tool best at showing how team goals ladder up to organizational goals. In Asana, you have a centralized screen for each project -- and projects are comprised of tasks that you move from “ready-to-do” to “done.” Asana has some unique ways of viewing tasks, such as in list, board, calendar, and timeline view. Additionally, Asana has an inbox feature where all of your notifications related to projects are stored.
Trello is a flexible task management system that stores projects on boards. Each board is comprised of columns (to-do, doing, done), and your columns are populated by “cards,” which equate to tasks you must complete to finish your project. Workflow-wise, it is quite similar to Asana.
Asana does offer more features, but Trello’s free plan is available to unlimited teammates, while Asana’s free plan is only available to 15 teammates per organization.
HR suites are one-stop-shops for everything HR. This means compensation, time off, recruiting, onboarding, and performance management are all housed in one single portal.
HR suites can be a godsend for a company looking to centralize a lot of disparate features. It is very helpful to have all your HR data housed in one piece of software. When it comes to goal management, however, we’ve found that HR suites are not as robust as the dedicated goal management softwares. Goal management isn’t the focus of these softwares; it just happens to be one feature.
Having said that, if you’re looking to incorporate goal management into your organization -- and you already have one of these fine HR suites -- then trialing out goal management through your HR suite is a great idea.
HR suites are one-stop-shops for everything HR for the entire lifecycle of the employee. This means hiring, onboarding, compensation, and employee development.
As mentioned, the key feature is that this is a one-login solution for HR. You don’t need a separate system for applicant tracking, a separate system to process PTO requests, and a separate system to track goal setting. You log in to your HR suite, and you are all set.
Because these suites cover such a vast amount of ground, they also collect a great deal of data, meaning that they can provide quite robust data analytics, as they pull from so many departments.
There are two HR suites that have goal management tools that are worth examining: BambooHR and Sage HR.
Let’s take a quick look at each.
BambooHR calls itself HR software with heart. It helps you through your entire employee lifecycle -- from hiring to performance management. As a one-stop-shop, it functions a little as a jack-of-all-trades, and therefore markets itself to small-and-medium businesses. This makes sense, as it allows small-to-medium businesses to handle all of their HR needs without buying a whole host of specialized software.
For goal management, BambooHR specializes in reports. BambooHR provides managers with status reports for each employee’s goals, and it offers company-wide performance reports. It’s ideal for getting an objective view of how your employees are performing relative to their goals.
Sage HR is a complete HR solution that aims to automate your HR processes and provide you with valuable data insights. It lets you handle PTO requests, track overtime, manage employee shift schedules, manage company expenses, and manage goals.
Sage HR’s performance management software lets you break goals into three levels: individual, team, and organizational. Like BambooHR, you can track how these goals are being achieved at all three levels, providing you with some nice clarity as to the productivity of your organization.
Goal Tracking Software
Goal Tracking Software is designed purely for tracking goals -- with no connection to performance management. These types of software can track a variety of goals such as OKRs and S.M.A.R.T. goals. We’ve found that these softwares are ideal for companies who are deeply committed to tracking and completing goals, but are less interested in tying goal completion to the formal performance review process.
Goal tracking software is a great way to align team goals and employee performance with a company’s vision. Goal tracking software achieves this by sharing your company strategy across the company in a central location. From there, teams and individuals can set and track goals that align with the company vision.
These goal tracking softwares allow management to examine the goals of teams and individuals, so that your organization can see how team members' progress contributes to your overarching goals. In some cases, you can make every employee’s goals and progress viewable to their respective team or entire organization, providing transparency for your organization.
There are two stand out goal tracking software systems we’ve found: Perdoo and Ally.
Let’s take a look at both.
Perdoo is an OKR platform that promises to turn strategy into results. With Perdoo, you can share your organizational strategy, align your overarching goals with individual goals, and gain valuable data insights thanks to their robust reporting.
Perdoo also has a visual strategy planner, and lets you combine KPIs with OKRs to create detailed and focused goals. Perdoo also prompts weekly check-ins so employees are aligned on their progress for their individual goals.
Ally (recently acquired by Microsoft) wants to turn your goals into results. Like Perdoo, it focuses on aligning your team with the grand company strategy. Where Ally differs from Perdoo is with their target: Ally is aimed at helping remote and hybrid teams stay aligned through the use of custom OKRs and integrations into apps such as Trello, Slack, and Microsoft Teams.
Our last category of apps are Personal Goal Tracking Apps -- we’ll call them personal apps for short.
These apps are not organization-wide apps. They’re not great for setting a company strategy, tracking performance for a team, or helping in compensation discussions at a year end review. Instead, personal apps are used for setting and achieving personal apps.
These apps don’t even need to be work related! They could be about running a marathon, learning a new language, or just getting more consistent at cleaning the house.
Let’s take a look at how these apps function.
Personal apps provide easy-to-use and mobile-friendly interfaces that enable you to set and track goals quickly and easily.
What type of goals? Saving money, training for a race, getting enough sleep, writing a novel -- any goal you can think of!
These goals are typically broken down into daily progress that you track and input (how many miles did you run today?) that you can visualize across a calendar to see how your progress stacks up.
Two of our favorite Goal Management Softwares are Strides and Habitica.
Let’s see how they stack up.
Strides (iOS) is a popular goal tracking app that helps you track your goals and build your perfect routine -- one that gets you in the habit of achieving your goals. It allows you to track four different types of goals: Habits, Targets, Averages, and Projects. These types are customizable, so that you can modify their names and tasks to fit the goal you wish to achieve.
Habitica (iOS, Android) turns your goal into a game -- literally! Completing tasks in Habitica levels up your retro 8-bit avatar. When you level up enough, you unlock rewards such as gold and battle armor. Then, you can battle monsters in-game with your fellow Habitica players or spend your gold on more tangible rewards like streams of your favorite TV shows.
Performance Management Software: The Integrated Solution to Goal Management
Performance management software integrates goal management seamlessly into your employee review process. This way, you tie the completion of the goal into a tangible result, which both motivates goal completion and provides deeper employee development.
What Should I Look For in Goal Management Software?
Don’t get lost focusing on features you don’t need. Consider whether you want to tie goals to performance management, list subgoals for a project, or visualize your organization’s progress. Then, look for a software that provides the reports you’ll need.
Why Should I Use Goal Management Software?
Goal management software is more efficient than spreadsheets and email chains. Software gives your team accountability and offers features like progress visualization and feedback.
What Goals Should I Put In My Goal Management Software?
Goal management software can be used for any type of goal, be it project, performance, or personal. The best goal management tools can handle any goal that your organization needs to track.
Does Goal Management Software Increase Productivity?
Yes. Goal management software allows your employees to spend less time managing goals and more time achieving them.