The ultimate NCT mini eBook

Get the complete scoop on NCTs, a new-age goal-setting framework.

The ultimate NCT mini eBook

What do footballers and engineering leaders have in common? They both like to score goals!  Whether it’s on the field or in the tech world ⸺ scoring goals = success.

Setting clear, actionable goals is necessary to drive success for every organization. That’s why, setting OKRs is probably the first thing you learn in Engineering Management 101. As we all know, OKRs are a pretty popular framework for setting and tracking goals.

But let's talk about the new kid on the block– NCTs (Narrative, Commitments, Tasks). This new goal-setting framework is quickly gaining prominence for its uniqueness and fresh approach,

In this article, we'll dive into both OKRs and NCTs. We’ll explore how each framework can be effectively implemented for different dev teams like front-end, back-end, DevOps, etc. Whether you're fine-tuning your current strategy or considering a new approach, this guide offers insights into both frameworks for you as an engineering leader to pick and choose as you please!

But first, let’s uncover what exactly NCTs are.

What are NCTs?

NCTs stand for Narrative, Commitments, and Tasks. It’s a framework proposed by Ravi Mehta as a way to set goals for teams. NCTs focus on three things: why we're doing something, what we plan to achieve, and how we'll do it, all within 3-4 months. It helps teams understand how their daily work connects to big company goals.

Teams set lofty goals, often to impress leadership, without also establishing actionable commitments that will enable the team to actually achieve the goal. When inevitable failure comes, teams lose credibility and maybe even start doubting their own skills. Leadership ends up explicitly or implicitly exerting even more pressure for the team to perform and then, when pressure mounts, the goals tend to become even more ambitious and even less feasible, perpetuating the vicious cycle. - Ravi Mehta

Narrative ("Why"): This is a short, clear story explaining the team's goal and why it's important. It helps everyone understand the reason behind the work.

Commitments ("What"): These are specific goals the teams aim to reach. Usually, a team should pick 3-5 of these goals each quarter. Commitments show how well the team is doing.

Tasks ("How"): These are the exact steps the team needs to follow to meet the commitments and achieve the narrative. Tasks can change as the work goes on and new variables are added into the mix. Success is measured by finishing these tasks and how they help reach the main goals.

OKRs and NCTs for software development teams

Front-end development team

Goals for front-end teams should be focused on aspects that directly impact the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of the user interface and user experience. As an engineering manager, these are some OKRs and NCTs you can set for your front-end team:



Objective 1: Enhance User Experience and Interface

KR1: Redesign the user interface to improve navigation and user engagement, aiming for a 20% increase in user session duration.

KR2: Achieve a 95% positive rating in user experience surveys by implementing user feedback into design iterations.

KR3: Reduce page load times by 30% across all major browsers to enhance performance.

NCT 1: Elevating User Experience and Interface

Narrative: To become the industry leader in user interface design, our front-end team will revolutionize user experience, making our platform the benchmark for intuitive and engaging interfaces.

1. Increase user session duration by 20% through UI/UX enhancements.
2. Achieve a 95% positive user experience rating by Q3.

3. Reduce average page load time by 30% across all platforms by Q4.


1. Conduct user experience research and gather feedback. 

2. Redesign user interface elements for better navigation. 

3. Optimize front-end code to improve loading times.

Objective 2: Strengthen Code Quality and Efficiency

KR1: Increase code coverage by automated testing to 85%, focusing on critical user pathways.

KR2: Reduce the number of reported bugs in production by 40% through rigorous pre-deployment testing protocols.

KR3: Implement a peer code review process, aiming for at least 90% of new code submissions to be reviewed within 48 hours.

NCT 2: Strengthening Code Quality and Efficiency

Narrative: Our front-end team is committed to setting a new standard in code quality and efficiency, ensuring robust, scalable, and maintainable codebases.


1. Achieve 85% code coverage through automated testing by the end of Q2. 

2. Reduce production bugs by 40% in the next 6 months. 

3. Establish a 90% compliance rate for peer code reviews within 48 hours.


1. Implement new automated testing frameworks. 2. Develop and enforce a standardized code review process. 

3. Organize regular bug-hunting sessions and coding workshops.

Objective 3: Foster Team Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing

KR1: Organize bi-weekly cross-functional meetings with other development teams to enhance product cohesiveness and understanding.

KR2: Create and maintain an internal knowledge base, targeting a 25% reduction in repetitive inquiries to the team.

KR3: Conduct monthly workshops or training sessions on the latest front-end technologies to keep the team updated.

NCT 3: Fostering Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing

Narrative: To enhance product cohesiveness and innovation, our team will strengthen collaboration and knowledge sharing within and across teams.


1. Initiate bi-weekly cross-functional meetings for better product understanding. 

2. Create and maintain an internal knowledge base, reducing repetitive inquiries by 25%. 

3. Conduct monthly technical workshops to keep the team updated on the latest technologies.


1. Schedule and organize cross-functional meetings. 

2. Develop an internal wiki or documentation hub. 3. Plan and host monthly technical workshops or bring in external speakers.

Objective 4: Innovate with Cutting-Edge Technologies

KR1: Research and integrate at least three new front-end technologies or frameworks into the development process.

KR2: Launch a pilot project utilizing a new technology and achieve a satisfaction score of at least 80% from internal stakeholders.

KR3: Increase deployment efficiency by 15% through the adoption of modern development tools and practices.

NCT 4: Innovating with Cutting-Edge Technologies

Narrative: Our front-end team will embrace and integrate cutting-edge technologies to drive innovation and improve deployment efficiency.


1. Integrate three new front-end technologies or frameworks within the next two quarters. 

2. Launch a pilot project using a new technology with an 80% internal stakeholder satisfaction rate. 3. Improve deployment efficiency by 15% through modern development tools.


1. Research and evaluate new front-end technologies. 

2. Develop a pilot project plan and execute it. 

3. Train the team on new development tools and practices.

Objective 5: Improve Product Scalability and Maintainability

KR1: Refactor and optimize existing code to improve maintainability, targeting a 20% decrease in time required for routine maintenance.

KR2: Develop and deploy two major features that enhance the scalability of the platform.

KR3: Achieve zero downtime during peak usage periods through improved load balancing and resource management.

NCT 5: Improving Product Scalability and Maintainability

Narrative: Aiming to build a future-proof platform, our team is dedicated to enhancing the scalability and maintainability of our product.


1. Reduce routine maintenance time by 20% through code optimization. 

2. Deploy two major scalable features in the next 9 months. 

3. Maintain zero downtime during peak usage periods.


1. Refactor existing codebase for optimization. 2. Design and implement scalable features. 

3. Enhance load balancing and resource management strategies.

Back-end development team

OKRs and NCTs for back-end teams should be tailored to focus on key areas such as system performance, data security, and cross-functional collaboration:



Objective 1: Enhance System Performance and Scalability

KR1:Improve system response time by 20% by optimizing database queries and server-side logic.

KR2: Scale the system to handle 30% more simultaneous users without performance degradation.

KR3: Reduce server downtime by 50% through better load balancing and fault tolerance strategies.

NCT 1: Enhancing System Performance and Scalability

Narrative: To support our growing user base and increase efficiency, our back-end team will focus on optimizing system performance and scalability.


1. Improve response time by optimizing database and server logic.

2. Increase system capacity to support more users without performance loss. 

3. Minimize server downtime through enhanced load management.


1. Optimize database queries and index critical data. 

2. Implement efficient caching mechanisms. 

3. Upgrade server infrastructure and review load-balancing strategies.

Objective 2: Strengthen Data Security and Integrity

KR1:Implement advanced security protocols to reduce vulnerability exploits by 40%.

KR2: Achieve 99.9% data integrity with new backup and recovery mechanisms.

KR3: Conduct quarterly security audits and resolve all identified issues within 30 days.

NCT 2: Strengthening Data Security and Integrity

Narrative: Our back-end team is dedicated to ensuring the highest level of data security and integrity to maintain user trust and comply with industry standards.


1. Implement advanced security protocols and reduce vulnerability exploits.
2. Achieve near-perfect data integrity with new backup and recovery systems.
3. Conduct regular security audits and address vulnerabilities promptly.


1. Integrate new encryption methods and secure data transfer protocols.
2. Develop and test backup and disaster recovery plans.
3. Perform regular security audits and quickly resolve identified issues.

Objective 3: Collaborate Effectively with Front-End Teams

KR1: Ensure 95% of APIs are fully integrated with front-end applications within two weeks of deployment.

KR2:Reduce the number of back-end related bugs reported by front-end teams by 30%.

KR3: Hold bi-weekly cross-functional meetings to align on development goals and timelines.

NCT 3: Collaborating Effectively with Front-End Teams

Narrative: To create a seamless user experience, our back-end team will enhance collaboration with front-end developers, ensuring efficient integration and communication.


1. Achieve rapid and effective API integration with front-end applications.

2. Reduce back-end related bugs in front-end applications.

3. Foster continuous communication and alignment with front-end teams.


1. Develop and provide comprehensive API documentation.

2. Establish a streamlined process for reporting and addressing bugs.

3. Schedule regular joint meetings for goal alignment and progress updates.

DevOps team

DevOps teams specialize in bridging the gap between software development and operations. Here are some of the key OKRs and NCTs you can set for them:



Objective 1: Enhance Automation and Efficiency in Deployment

KR1: Implement automation in 80% of the deployment processes, reducing manual effort by 50%.

KR2: Increase deployment frequency by 40% without compromising on quality.

KR3: Achieve a 30% reduction in deployment-related errors or rollbacks.

NCT 1: Enhancing Automation and Efficiency in Deployment

Narrative: To maintain our competitive edge, our DevOps team will focus on optimizing deployment processes through automation, ensuring swift, error-free, and efficient software delivery.

1. Implement comprehensive automation in deployment processes.

2. Increase deployment frequency while maintaining quality.

3. Significantly reduce deployment-related errors.


1. Develop and integrate automation scripts and tools in the deployment process.

2. Conduct regular reviews and updates of deployment procedures.

3. Train the team on new automated processes and tools.

Objective 2: Strengthen System Monitoring and Incident Management

KR1:Enhance monitoring tools to detect 95% of potential issues before impacting users.

KR2: Reduce mean time to recovery (MTTR) for critical incidents by 40%.

KR3:Implement a proactive incident management strategy, reducing incident occurrence by 30%.

NCT 2: Strengthening System Monitoring and Incident Management

Narrative: Our DevOps team is committed to enhancing system reliability and user trust by improving monitoring capabilities and refining incident management processes.


1. Upgrade monitoring tools for early detection of potential issues.
2. Reduce MTTR for critical incidents.

3. Develop a proactive approach to incident management.


1. Implement advanced monitoring solutions and set up alert mechanisms.

2. Create and rehearse incident response plans.

3. Regularly review and analyze incident trends for continuous improvement.

Objective 3: Foster Continuous Integration and Delivery (CI/CD) Efficiency

KR1: Achieve a 90% success rate in continuous integration builds.

KR2: Increase the speed of the CI/CD pipeline by 35%.<br><br>KR3:<br>Ensure 100% uptime for the CI/CD pipeline.

NCT 3: Fostering Continuous Integration and Delivery (CI/CD) Efficiency

Narrative: To support rapid and reliable software development, our DevOps team will enhance the CI/CD pipeline's efficiency, ensuring seamless integration and delivery.


1. Achieve a high success rate in continuous integration builds.

2. Enhance the speed and reliability of the CI/CD pipeline.

3. Maintain uninterrupted operations of the CI/CD pipeline.


1. Optimize CI/CD processes and tools for faster builds and deployments.

2. Perform regular audits and maintenance of the CI/CD pipeline.

3. Implement redundancy and failover mechanisms for pipeline stability.

Quality assurance (QA) team

OKRs and NCTs for QA teams in tech companies focus primarily on product quality, process efficiency, and continuous learning. Setting actionable goals ensures the QA team's efforts contribute significantly to the organization's broader objectives. Here are some effective goals you might want to use for your QA team:



Objective 1: Enhance Product Quality and Compliance

KR1: Achieve a 95% pass rate in product quality tests for all releases.

KR2: Ensure 100% compliance with legal and industry standards in product testing.

KR3: Reduce the number of customer-reported defects by 30%.

NCT 1: Enhancing Product Quality and Compliance

Narrative: To maintain our reputation for high-quality products, our QA team is committed to rigorous testing and compliance, ensuring we meet and exceed industry standards.


1. Achieve high pass rates in product quality tests for each release.

2. Ensure total compliance with relevant standards in all testing procedures.

3. Significantly reduce customer-reported defects.


1. Develop and implement comprehensive quality testing protocols.

2. Regularly review and align testing procedures with industry standards.

3. Analyze customer feedback to identify and address defect trends.

Objective 2: Improve Efficiency of QA Processes

KR1:Automate 50% of repetitive testing tasks to reduce manual effort. 

KR2: Shorten the average testing cycle time by 20% without compromising quality.

KR3: Implement continuous testing in the development pipeline, achieving a 40% reduction in post-deployment issues.

NCT 2: Improving Efficiency of QA Processes

Narrative: Our QA team aims to optimize testing efficiency without sacrificing quality, leveraging automation and innovative testing methodologies."


1. Introduce automation in repetitive testing tasks.

2. Shorten the testing cycle while maintaining quality standards.

3. Implement continuous testing to reduce post-deployment issues.


1. Identify and automate repetitive testing tasks using appropriate tools.

2. Streamline testing processes to reduce cycle time.

3. Integrate continuous testing into the development pipeline.

Objective 3: Foster Skill Development and Knowledge Sharing

KR1: Train 100% of QA team members on new testing tools and methodologies.

KR2: Increase cross-team collaboration for QA process improvement by 30%.

KR3: Conduct monthly workshops on best practices in quality assurance.

NCT 3: Fostering Skill Development and Knowledge Sharing

Narrative To excel in delivering top-notch product quality, our QA team will focus on continuous learning and sharing knowledge across teams.


1. Enhance the skill set of QA team members with training on new tools and methods.

2. Increase collaboration with other teams to improve QA processes.

3. Organize regular knowledge-sharing sessions on quality assurance best practices.


1. Schedule and conduct training sessions on new QA tools and methodologies.

2. Facilitate cross-team meetings to share insights and improve QA practices.

3. Organize monthly workshops or seminars on QA best practices.

Security team

The security team handles everything from code security to infrastructure protection and compliance with security standards. Based on their responsibilities, here are some critical OKRs and NCTs you can establish:



Objective 1: Enhance Cybersecurity Measures and Incident Response

KR1: Reduce the average incident response time by 30%.

KR2: Increase the detection rate of cybersecurity threats by 40% through enhanced monitoring and analytics.

KR3: Conduct quarterly cybersecurity drills and achieve a 25% improvement in team response effectiveness.

NCT 1: Enhancing Cybersecurity Measures and Incident Response

Narrative: Our Security team is dedicated to bolstering our cybersecurity defenses and refining our incident response capabilities to swiftly and effectively counteract any threats.


1. Significantly reduce incident response time.

2. Enhance threat detection capabilities.

3. Regularly conduct and improve upon cybersecurity drills.


1. Implement advanced monitoring and analytics tools.

2. Regularly update and test incident response plans.

3. Organize and review quarterly cybersecurity drills.

Objective 2: Strengthen Compliance and Risk Managemen

KR1:Achieve 100% compliance with regulatory standards and internal policies.

KR2: Conduct biannual risk assessments and reduce identified high-risk factors by 50%.

KR3: Implement new compliance training programs and achieve a 90% staff completion rate.

NCT 2: Strengthening Compliance and Risk Management


To safeguard our organization and clients, our team commits to maintaining strict compliance with regulatory standards and systematically managing cybersecurity risks.


1. Ensure full compliance with all relevant regulatory standards.

2. Conduct comprehensive risk assessments and mitigate high-risk factors.

3. Develop and deploy an effective compliance training program.


1. Review and update compliance policies.

2. Execute thorough risk assessments and formulate mitigation strategies.

3. Design and implement comprehensive staff training on compliance.

Objective 3: Improve Network and Application Security

KR1: Decrease network vulnerabilities by 40% through systematic audits and reinforcements.

KR2: Increase the security rating of applications by 30% as measured by standardized security assessment tools.

KR3: Automate 50% of routine security checks to enhance efficiency.

NCT 3: Improving Network and Application Security

Narrative: Aiming to fortify our digital infrastructure, our team will focus on enhancing the security of our network and applications through comprehensive audits, updates, and automation.


1. Identify and address network vulnerabilities.

2. Elevate the security standards of all applications.

3. Increase the efficiency of security operations through automation.


1. Perform regular security audits of the network and applications.

2. Update and reinforce security protocols for all applications.

3. Automate routine security checks and monitoring.

Data science and analytics team

OKRs and NCTs for the data science and analytics team should focus on areas such as decision-making enhancement, data quality, management, and innovation in data science. These are some clear goals you can set for the team:



Objective 1: Enhance Data-Driven Decision Making
KR1: Increase predictive analytics in decision-making by 30%.
KR2: Improve forecast accuracy for market trends by 25%.
KR3: Develop 5 new data models for customer behavior.

NCT 1: Enhancing Data-Driven Decision-Making

Narrative: Integrate advanced predictive analytics.


1. Expand predictive analytics use.

2. Enhance market trend forecast accuracy.

3. Develop new customer behavior models.


1. Identify key processes for analytics.

2. Improve forecasting models.

3. Build new customer behavior models.

Objective 2: Improve Data Quality and Management

KR1: Reduce data errors by 40% with better validation.

KR2: Enhance data storage efficiency by 30%.

KR3: New data governance framework to increase compliance by 50%.

NCT 2: Improving Data Quality and Management

Narrative: Elevate data quality and management.


1. Reduce data processing errors.

2. Optimize data storage

3. Implement robust data governance.


1. New data validation techniques.

2. Improve data storage practices.

3. Develop data governance plan.

Objective 3: Foster Innovation in Data Science

KR1: Initiate 3 AI and machine learning research projects.

KR2: Publish 2 papers in top data science journals.

KR3: Increase collaboration with product teams by 25%.

NCT 3: Fostering Data Science Innovation

Narrative: Research in AI and machine learning.


1. Launch new research initiatives.

2. Publish in top journals.

3. Strengthen the research-product development bond.


1. Start AI research projects.

2. Collaborate for publications.

3. Regular meetings with product teams.


As an engineering manager, staying ahead of the curve is key. Embracing new methodologies like NCTs, alongside the tried-and-test OKRs, can potentially lead to impressive outcomes. That’s why, a creative approach would be combining these two techniques to get the best out of them.

You can use the narrative part of NCTs to show why each OKR matters, and by combining commitments with your objectives, you'll achieve goals that are easy to track and follow. This combination encourages a deeper understanding of the 'why' behind each objective, ensuring that your team is not only aligned with company goals but also motivated by them.

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