Key Performance Indicators: What is it and How To Choose the Best KPIs for Your Business - Peter Boolkah

KPIs are an important tool when figuring out how well a business is doing and improving it. Choosing the right key performance indicators helps set clear goals, makes decision-making more accessible, and shows if the business is doing well.

What is a Key Performance Indicator (KPI)?

KPI stands for Key Performance Indicators. KPIs are used to measure a company’s success over time. They track strategy, finances, and operations performance, comparing it to industry peers.

Why Are KPIs Important?

Business leaders use KPIs to align teams with company goals. Leading KPIs provide guidance ahead of time that maximize the project’s likelihood of success after it’s published. They:

  • Keep teams on the same page.
  • Show the company’s health, highlighting strengths and weaknesses.
  • Enable strategy adjustments based on data.
  • Measure performance over time, ensuring goals are achieved.

How to Measure Key Performance Indicators?

An organisation should communicate its chosen KPIs to all employees. This clarifies important metrics and defines success. They can share general KPIs with everyone or department-specific KPIs with relevant teams.

Best Practices for Measuring Key Performance Indicators:

  • Find tools to measure KPIs. Companies use analytics tools for tracking.
  • Show data on dashboards. Executives view KPIs on dashboards with charts.
  • Provide a complete performance view. The best way to measure performance is to use multiple KPIs for an entire business performance picture.
  • Create both standard and custom reports. KPI software should offer various reporting options.
  • Don’t track too many KPIs. Use key performance indicators that are the most important for you.
  • Check KPIs regularly. Update or replace KPIs to stay in line with business goals.

Key Performance Indicators - Peter Boolkah

Types of KPIs

The following are the four most common types of performance measurements:

  • Lagging KPIs measure past business activities, like quarterly profit and revenue growth. They show how successful past actions were but aren’t suitable for predicting the future.
  • Leading indicators predict future business activities, like revenue from sales bookings. They help businesses plan and make changes ahead of time.
  • Quantitative indicators are numbers, like revenue or website traffic. They’re straightforward to track and compare, helping monitor progress towards goals.
  • Qualitative indicators are about quality, like user experience. They can be harder to measure but are essential for understanding customer satisfaction and retention, such as the online abandoned shopping cart rate.

Strategies for Creating Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Creating good Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is critical to track an organisation’s progress and success. You need a strategic plan to pick, use, and manage key metrics. The strategies below provide a simple way for businesses to make KPIs that matter, are actionable, and match their strategic goals.

Define how KPIs will be used.

Setting KPIs adds value to an organisation. Set clear goals for what KPIs measure and how to use them for decisions and strategies. Decide if a KPI tracks efficiency, business health, customer satisfaction, or strategic goals.

Tie KPIs to overall business goals.

Linking KPIs to business goals is crucial for planning. It ensures KPIs align with the company’s goals. This clarifies how everyone’s work contributes to the company’s vision. It also makes tracking metrics easier, improves performance management, and focuses efforts on critical areas for success.


SMART KPIs are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals. This ensures each KPI has a clear target and can be measured over time. Specific KPIs target clear outcomes. Measurable KPIs track progress. Achievable KPIs are realistic. Relevant KPIs align with business goals. Time-bound KPIs have deadlines and focusing efforts. The SMART framework clarifies and motivates goals, driving progress towards business success.

Ensure they remain straightforward.

Keep KPIs simple for them to be effective. They should be easy to understand for everyone. Complex KPIs confuse people and block insights. Define key performance indicators and communicate them clearly, including how to measure them. This helps everyone understand their meaning and importance. Simple KPIs make tracking performance easier across the company.

Prepare for iterations

Getting ready for changes is critical in business. Understand that business scenes, goals, and what makes you succeed can shift. Regularly check and update Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to match current goals. This means seeing if KPIs still work well, spotting strategy or market changes, and tweaking KPIs to match those changes. Keeping KPIs updated ensures they stay helpful and precise, helping with intelligent decision-making.

Minimise excessive KPIs

Cutting down on excess Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) improves effectiveness. Too many KPIs dilute focus, waste resources, and obscure insights. Regularly review and simplify KPIs to retain only the essential ones. Discard any KPIs that don’t add value. Streamlining KPIs helps organisations focus on crucial metrics, enhancing decision-making and performance. It makes the organisation agile and strategy-aligned.

What are KPI Reports?

A KPI report lets leaders check critical indicators to see how close they are to their goals. It has KPI dashboards for easy data viewing. Even those without tech skills can spot trends or odd data. The report’s insights lead to actions that better the business.

Examples of KPIs

Examples of KPIs

To grasp KPIs in action, looking at real examples helps clarify how to create effective indicators.

Financial KPIs

Financial KPIs include Gross and net profit margins, which reveal earnings from sales. Inventory turnover indicates the speed of inventory sales. The cost of goods sold (COGS) reflects the cost of producing products. Accounts receivable turnover shows the speed of customer payments. Days sales outstanding (DSO) tracks the time to collect payments. These KPIs gauge a company’s efficiency, financial health, and profit.

Marketing KPIs

These are the key performance metrics leaders in marketing might measure:

  • Lead conversion rate is how many leads become customers.
  • Customer acquisition cost is the average cost to get a new customer.
  • Return on marketing investment (ROMI) shows the profit from marketing campaigns.
  • Customer lifetime value (CLV) is one of the key KPIs to track in marketing. It measures the total profit a company makes from a customer over time.
  • Customer churn rate is the percentage of customers who stop buying in a set period. It shows customer satisfaction and loyalty levels, highlighting areas needing improvement.

Customer Service KPIs

Customer service call centre key metrics include:

  • First call resolution rate: Measures the efficiency of solving problems on the first call. Higher rates equal happier customers.
  • Cost per call: The average expense of handling a call. Used to cut customer service costs.
  • Call volume: The total number of calls taken, showing staff needs and service demand.
  • Hold time: Average waiting time for customers. Shorter is better.
  • Abandoned calls: The percentage of callers that hang up while waiting. Indicates customer service issues.


In IT, key performance measures define the IT services’ effectiveness, efficiency, and quality. These include:

  • System uptime: Measures how often IT services run smoothly. It’s vital for uninterrupted business operations.
  • Incident resolution time: The average time to resolve IT issues. It indicates IT support’s speed and efficiency.
  • Security incidents: The number of security breaches. It assesses the organisation’s cybersecurity strength.
  • Change success rate: The rate of successful IT changes. High rates indicate effective IT change management.
  • End-user satisfaction: How satisfied are users with IT services based on surveys and feedback? It’s crucial for IT service improvement.

How to Improve an Existing KPI Strategy

If KPIs are not hitting targets, change the strategy. Here’s a simple guide to using KPIs effectively:

  1. Choose key KPIs. Mix leading and lagging indicators for future planning and  past performance.
  2. Create a KPI-focused culture. Make sure everyone understands and uses KPIs properly. Improve data skills, use intelligent software, train staff, and provide the right KPIs for better decisions.
  3. Update regularly. Adjust KPIs as needed based on market and company changes. Periodically review and update KPIs and keep the team informed.
  4. Check data sources. Ensure the data for KPIs is accurate and timely by reviewing where it comes from and how it’s gathered.
  5. Ask for feedback. Get input from key players in the company to improve understanding and learn how to use KPI.


Which are the best KPIs to use?

The best KPIs depend on your organisation’s goals and needs. Effective KPIs should link directly to business objectives, be easy to measure, be trackable, and influence decisions. Key financial metrics include revenue growth rate, profit margin, and operating cash flow. For customer-focused teams, important KPIs are customer satisfaction scores, net promoter scores, and customer retention rates. In operations, efficiency is measured by inventory turnover, production uptime, and order fulfilment times. The best KPIs align with strategic goals and help drive improvement.

How many Key Performance Indicators should you have?

The right number of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) depends on an organisation’s size, sector, and goals. Usually, having 5 to 10 KPIs works well. These KPIs should cover different business areas. Too many KPIs can spread focus too thin, making it hard to use resources well. More KPIs might give a partial picture of how well the business is doing. The most important thing is to choose KPIs that match your strategic goals and that you can manage and act on.

How often should businesses revisit their KPIs?

Businesses should check their KPIs every quarter. This lets them see how close they are to their goals, respond to business changes, and adjust their plans. In fast-moving industries or times of significant change, it might be good to look at KPIs monthly or weekly. Frequent checks keep KPIs aligned with goals, help make quick decisions, and improve performance.

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