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7 KPIs to Use in Your Strategic Planning
Topics: outsourced accounting , business strategy , KPIs , accounting trends , improving operations , professional services
KPIs measure a business's performance, to help you identify points of needed improvement in your operations. Those critical gauges are also the fundamental tools for strategic planning. KPIs are the direct evidence of your business's financial health , the strength of its position in undertaking growth initiatives, its salability, its investment value, its appeal to lenders – everything you need to execute on strategic plans to reach your goals.
But, there are dizzying numbers of departmental KPIs to be tracked, including marketing, sales, operations, accounts payable, accounts receivable, production, customer services, financial management and others. With so many key indicators, which ones are really key , when it comes to big-picture strategic planning for the future of the organization?
The first course of action, is to implement any needed remedial actions the KPIs have led you to identify in policies, systems, revenue channels, production and quality processes, service protocols, etc., that threaten to adversely impact the viability of your strategic plans. Track and evaluate progress of corrective actions well ahead of undertaking your strategic planning, to give your adjustments time to improve your KPIs before you plug them into your planning calculations.
Revenues, Expenses, Gross and Net Profits are obvious top-priority KPIs and are presumed here to be understood and in use as planning fundamentals. So, here are other essential KPIs that should also be carefully tracked, analyzed, and applied to your strategic planning process:
1. Working Capital
This is cash that is readily accessible. It includes short-term investments, Cash on Hand and Receivables as well as Accounts Payable, loans and expenses accrued. This number indicates the financial position of your business, as reflected by its current ability to meet short-term financial obligations with available funds for operating.
A poor amount of Working Capital can indicate need for adjustments to resolve issues in any one of the above mentioned financial areas, for example, a problem of over-leveraging, as may be reflected in a high total amount of loan payments.
To Calculate: Subtract the business's existing financial liabilities from its current assets.
2. Current Ratio
The Current Ratio is the ratio of your business's financial assets to its liabilities. This KPI reveals the extent to which the business can consistently cover its financial commitments, on schedule, and sustain the level of credit standing necessary to obtain funding to pursue strategic growth initiatives.
The kinds of adjustments that can be made in light of this KPI, to help ensure success of growth strategies can include reducing the total amount of financial liability to bring it within a ratio that is more acceptable to lenders and more attractive to prospective investors.
To Calculate: Divide the business's total assets by its total liabilities.
3. Debt to Equity Ratio
This is the measurement of your business's profitability. This ratio indicates your success in managing the funding of your business growth by using your shareholders' investments. The number reveals the amount of debt that has accrued in your effort to build a profitable enterprise. An excessive debt ratio indicates a dependence on accumulating debt in order to fund growth.
To bring debt to equity into more appropriate alignment with shareholder expectations and lenders' criteria, focus on stronger financial accountability. For example, you might decide to temporarily freeze borrowing as your means of acquisition, as needed, during subsequent financial accounting periods, until the debt ratio is brought in line.
To Calculate: Divide the business's total liabilities by the total of its shareholder equity (net worth).
4. Operating Cash Flow
This number reflects your business's basic ability to pay for day-to-day expenses, such as materials and supplies deliveries. It indicates performance in generating enough cash to cover capital investments to grow the business. In making decisions about new capital investment, as part of your growth strategy, carefully consider the percentage of your total employed capital that is operating cash. Understanding the implications of that ratio provides additional insight into the financial strength of your business.
To find adjustments that you can make to affect Operating Cash Flow in ways that improve it as an indicator that supports your growth plans, look to budget modifications and tightening controls on operating expenditures.
To Calculate: Find the total operating income, not including depreciation, after subtracting taxes. OCF must also be adjusted for any changes to the amount of working capital.
5. Customer Acquisition Cost to Lifetime Value
The CAC is the total of marketing and sales costs involved in acquiring a customer. This KPI gauges the efficiency of your business's sales and marketing processes. It measures your business's commercial investment value. The LTV is the amount of value your customers are individually bringing to your business, on average, over the total period of time that they continue doing business with your company. A LTV/CAC ratio of 2 indicates that your business is profiting 100% on its total sales and marketing investment. So, a 2 or 3 ratio is considered a good indicator of likely long-term profitability.
Adjustments to pricing, customer services, quality processes, and many other areas of sales pipeline and operations management can be made to positively affect this critical ratio.
To Calculate: Divide the total cost of sales and marketing for an accounting period, by the total number of customers acquired by the company in that period.
6. Inventory Turnover
This KPI shows the average amount of inventory your business sold in an accounting period. It quantifies the amount of inventory turnover that is happening as the inventory continuously moves in and out again from production areas and warehouses. This indicator quantifies your business's success in selling orders that actually result in movement of inventory and in the efficiency rates of your system of production.
To make adjustments that can help ensure success of strategic growth plans based on this KPI, look at root causes of sales order cancellation rates, order processing issues, bottlenecks in production workflows, and potential issues in warehouse organizational systems, materials ordering processes, backlog management, and other processes.
To Calculate: Divide the total sales for an accounting period by the average amount of inventory in that period.
7. Return on Equity
ROE shows the amount of the business's wealth, in contrast to the net income it is generating for shareholders. The ROE reveals whether the net income for the business is sufficient for the size of the total investment shareholders have put into the enterprise.
Current net income is the primary determinate of the business's likely worth in the long-term. The ROE ratio is the indicator of the business's profitability as well as the measure of your general business management efficiency. Showing improvement in the ratio demonstrates to shareholders that management is effective in work toward maximizing their returns.
To increase ROE, adjustments that can be made include pricing changes, adding revenue channels, eliminating channels generating low margins, cutting spending, increasing training, refinancing, and any number of changes that might be indicated by careful analyses across the entire range of KPIs.
To Calculate: Divide the business's net income by the total of shareholders' equity in the company.
Other Key Performance Indicators
Other KPIs useful in strategic planning are more department-specific, for examples:
- Recurring Revenue Metrics — This KPI measures income generators that are reliable to repeat in the next period, without adding much, if any cost.
- Revenue Exit Rate — This KPI indicates revenue that is predicted to continue recurring over the coming year (not including projections for new sales). This metric is used in valuation of businesses.
- Customer Acquisition to Lifetime Value — This is the ratio of your Customer Acquisition Cost to the Lifetime Value of a customer in your business.
- Accounts Receivable Turnover — This KPI reflects the rate of customer payment collections. It is the total sales for a given period, divided by average accounts receivable for the same period.
- Customer Satisfaction — This is the indicator of your business's long-term sustainability. It measures the rate of customer retention that can be reasonably anticipated. The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is often used to calculate for this KPI.
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Top 5 KPIs for Strategic Planning
insightsoftware is the global provider of enterprise software solutions for the Office of the CFO to connect to & make sense of data in real time, driving financial intelligence across […]
Strategic planning ranks high on a company’s list of priorities, and equally high on the list of challenges. Consider the eye-opening results of a recent survey : 94% of CFOs plan to change their risk strategy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those are sweeping changes in response to unprecedented events, but the need for change is not out of the ordinary.
Even before the pandemic, companies faced intense pressure to adapt to the ever-changing environment around them, including factors such as a new generation of technology, changing regulations, market swings, and more agile competitors. With so many disruptive forces in play at once, strategic planning is critical. Even more important, though, is the need to assess whether a strategy is working in real-time and having the ability to make agile adjustments.
This is the era of agility, when the ability to pivot plays a large part in whether a company merely survives or succeeds. Key to the whole effort is having a way to measure whether and to what extent the strategic plans in place are delivering the intended outputs and, based on those insights, make the right choices about how to adapt or shift.
So how do companies evaluate their strategic planning? The same way they evaluate everything else: with key performance indicators. Success and failure always come down to hard metrics. Focusing on the right ones indicates, in no uncertain terms, whether a strategy is successful. Here are five KPIs that deserve your attention:
1. Working Capital
Similar to the fuel gauge in a car, the amount of working capital a company has on hand tracks closely to how much forward momentum it has left – something vital to understand as part of any strategic effort. Working capital indicates the amount of readily available capital, including cash, accounts receivable, and short-term investments, with current liabilities subtracted like short-term loans, expenses, and accounts payable. Declining amounts of working capital suggest a strategy that isn’t working or that could be approaching failure.
2. Debt to Equity Ratio
As a fundamental measurement of profitability, the debt to equity ratio speaks loudly about strategic performance. It is measured as total liabilities over total shareholder equity. It’s important to track this metric, closely and continuously, to understand how much the company is using debt to fuel growth.
3. Current Ratio
The current ratio, or the ratio of total assets divided by total liabilities, indicates how consistently a company can meet its financial obligations. It’s a telling indicator of financial performance, which is why the current ratio has a big impact on credit worthiness. A current ratio that is too low may scare away creditors and investors, which can slow down a growth strategy. Alternatively, needing to reduce financial liabilities to raise the ratio could also impact how the company plans to grow.
4. Return on Equity
Dividing the company’s net income by the shareholder’s total equity reveals the return on equity. The metric highlights whether a company is making enough revenue to satisfy investors and attract future ones. Like the rest of the metrics on this list, the return on equity transcends any specific strategy and helps all companies understand their performance regardless of the objective.
5. Customer Acquisition Cost to Lifetime Value
Every business needs to understand what it is spending to attract customers compared to what it gains for each customer attracted. This metric highlights the performance of sales and marketing while helping to inform financial forecasts. Since every strategy, to some extent, seeks to attract more customers and increase their overall value, those in charge of strategy need to know if this metric is rising or falling.
Strategic planning can feel all-consuming. Those in the driver’s seat need KPIs at their disposal all the time, but they can’t spend their time finding and crunching numbers. With tools from insightsoftware, including customized dashboards that automatically update in real time, data informs strategy instead of obscuring what to do next.
Make the right choice more often; get your free dashboard today!
Strategic Planning KPI Dashboard
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What Are Key Performance Indicators & What Role Do They Play in the Strategic Planning Process?
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The business world regularly uses key performance indicators, or KPIs, to track the performance and project the future success of a business organization. No standard list of KPIs exists that the business world recognizes and adheres to as a way to track these. Instead, KPIs can vary from industry to industry and even from business to business within the same industry.
According to Ibis Associates, key performance indicators are sometimes misunderstood, so much so that many have come to associate a KPI with anything measurable within a business. The fact that so many businesses differ on what they consider the most important KPIs, makes it that much more difficult to define what they are. In short, a KPI is a measure imposed on important financial and non-financial business information that provides an indication of either success or failure for the business.
Businesses use various types of KPIs and these differ greatly because each type of business has its own concerns and measures of success. Of course, profitability is usually the bottom line, but that, in and of itself, is not necessarily a KPI. A KPI could, however, include the improvement in profit from one quarter to the next because this provides an indication of whether the company is moving forward and, if so, at what rate that movement takes place. Other KPIs can include those used in human resources such as employee retention rates. Closing ratios in sales are another. A business could conceivably consider any level of measurable change as a KPI.
The role of KPIs in the strategic planning process stems from the belief that KPIs provide a measurable and objective standard by which business leaders can track progress and implement change. Businesses use KPIs in the strategic planning process to provide benchmark by which they can measure current performance. Business leaders rely upon these KPIs to help them make more objective and scientific planning decisions, thus reducing the chance of human error. A business tracks KPIs over time to determine what progress the business is making and what changes it needs to implement if positive change does not occur.
Ibis Associates and Advanced Performance Institute cite several problems that can stem from the use of KPIs. Business managers and executives can run the risk of being tied to their KPI paradigm so much that it becomes the only way they measure success. Also problematic is the tendency to measure anything and everything as if all quantifiable data were useful in some way. This can result in a tendency for a business to collect massive amounts of data, only to be overwhelmed by it and not able to use it in any real or meaningful way.
- Sramana Mitra: Performance: The Role of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
- Ibis Associates: Key Performance Indicators
Jared Lewis is a professor of history, philosophy and the humanities. He has taught various courses in these fields since 2001. A former licensed financial adviser, he now works as a writer and has published numerous articles on education and business. He holds a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in theology and has completed doctoral work in American history.
The objectives of key performance indicators, what is the difference between gross sales and profit margins, business trend analysis, what are kpi keywords, the methods of analyzing business success, what is roi and kpi, examples of sales performance goals, importance of kpi, what are the advantages and disadvantages of metrics in business management, most popular.
- 1 The Objectives of Key Performance Indicators
- 2 What Is the Difference Between Gross Sales and Profit Margins?
- 3 Business Trend Analysis
- 4 What Are KPI Keywords?
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Key Performance Indicators
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Go to OPERATIONAL PLANNING
The terms "Performance Measures" and "Performance Indicators" mean the same and the use of the word "Key" as in Key Performance Indicators merely means the Performance Measures that are deemed to be most important.
Example of a key performance indicator
As a typical example, organisations in sport very often have a goal to reach a certain number of members. For example, a football club might have a goal to reach 1000 members within a period of 5 years. In such a case, it is important to periodically measure the total number of members and to determine whether progress is being made.
Obviously, the Key Performance Indicator for this goal is the number of members, and it is relatively easy to measure. For each of the 5 years of the strategic plan, a target can be set and this target is the Key Performance Indicator for that goal.
However not all goals contained within the strategic plan will have obvious key performance indicators. The following table provides examples of key performance indicators for difficult-to-measure objectives.
It is important to consider that key performance indicators will be reported to stakeholders . They provide "essential-to-know" information.
Key performance indicators should be clear-cut, that is they are either achieved or not achieved. Using key performance indicators, the management process will compare what was desired with what actually happened.
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Monitoring and Reporting Positive Cases
- BMCC Strategic Plan 2020-2025
- 2020-2025 Strategic Priorities, Goals, Actions, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
- recommend specific actions to achieve the objective, including improvements or changes to policies, practices, and processes;
- provide an evidence base for the recommendations, including faculty research and findings from BMCC, CUNY and external sources;
- recommend a communications strategy to inform and engage the college community in recommended actions;
- identify faculty and staff development needs;
- identify the resources needed to accomplish the recommended actions; and
- identify strategies to advance equity and inclusion through recommended actions.
While the process was guided by design thinking and intentional redesign, leadership ensured that the process was organic with substantial opportunities for involvement. This resulted in a final strategic planning framework that would communicate institutional priorities, actions designed to take what works to scale, and a set of metrics and targets that the College is accountable to. The framework demonstrating the connection between these elements, including the role of mission, vision, and values, is included below.
- President’s Message
- Strategic Planning 2015-2020 Process and Outcomes
- 2015-2020 Achievements
- Designing for Success: BMCC’s Two-Year 2020-2025 Strategic Planning Process
- Moving from Strategic to Operational Planning
- Final Notes
- Improve retention to double degree completion rates, and increase successful transfer and baccalaureate attainment;
- Enhance learning through culturally responsive and sustaining pedagogy and support;
- Expand career development leading to meaningful work with family-sustaining wages;
- Achieve equity in these outcomes in a college community in which all members can thrive;
- Foster a receptive and compassionate college culture where students feel valued, encouraged, supported, and hopeful; and
- Strengthen BMCC’s role in creating an equitably thriving NYC.
Strategic goal 1: redesign the new student enrollment experience.
Strategic Action 1.1: Establish a summer bridge program for At-Promise students that incorporates known student success components
Strategic Action 1.2: Improve the effectiveness of in-person and virtual enrollment services
Strategic Action 1.3: Implement virtual helpdesk and chat applications in multiple languages and across multiple departments (LiveHelpNow)
Strategic Action 1.4: Develop individualized student success maps, including a financial plan, for every new student (Navigate)
Strategic Action 1.5: Enhance the personalization of the student experience through innovative tools such as digital storytelling, how-to tutorials, and podcasts
Strategic Action 1.6: Create a student communication hub that becomes the single source for students seeking assistance plus strategically directs all outgoing communications to students
Strategic Action 1.7: Build a student navigator corps with Federal Work Study students to assist students through the enrollment process and guide them to the first day of college
Strategic Goal 2: Improve Learning and Engagement in the First Year
Strategic Action 2.1: Design and implement a rebranded, mandatory first-year experience through integrated for-credit, first-semester seminars and non-credit FYE programming that include equity, inclusion, and anti-racism components
Strategic Action 2.2: Reduce the percentage of first semester students entering probation and increase the percentage of students returning to good academic standing from probation
Strategic Action 2.3: Significantly increase the percentage of students with a cohort experience*
Strategic Action 2.4: Expand the implementation of trauma-informed and culturally-responsive and sustaining pedagogies and support both in person and virtually
Strategic Action 2.5: Implement and utilize holistic student intake forms to enhance the educational experience (Navigate)
Strategic Action 2.6: Ensure consistency of language and expectations related to key student support units including academic advising, counseling, financial aid, and learning resources available at BMCC
Strategic Action 2.7: Design and implement an online orientation on the current LMS before they meet with an academic advisor or faculty member
Strategic Goal 3: Integrate Career Development throughout the Student Experience
Strategic Action 3.1: Expand industry partnerships across all sectors to increase the percentage of students participating in paid internships, including remote field placements, and receiving scholarships
Strategic Action 3.2: Increase the utilization and leveraging of academic and career communities for academic, co-curricular, and extra-curricular programming both in person and virtually
Strategic Action 3.3: Increase the percentage of students participating in career planning activities and coursework
Strategic Action 3.4: Strengthen the effectiveness of the Federal Work Study Program by increasing approved career preparation internships, including virtual opportunities, and enhancing proven student success initiatives (i.e., using FWS to expand peer mentoring, peer tutoring, and supplemental instruction)
Strategic Action 3.5: Embed career development exploration, including power and virtual workplace skills, into introductory courses and student programming
Strategic Action 3.6: Grow, integrate, and leverage the network of BMCC alumni to support student career development, internship opportunities, and alumni-student networking
Strategic Goal 4: Improve Completion and Transfer Rates through Integrated Support Services
Strategic Action 4.1: Expand the use of Supplemental Instruction and Peer-Assisted Learning for targeted student populations both online and in-person learners
Strategic Action 4.2: Increase the percentage of students utilizing tutoring services both online and in-person learners
Strategic Action 4.3: Determine the policies and implement the practices, including integration of college systems, required to effectively bring academic early alerts and other targeted outreach efforts to scale (e.g. Connect2Success)
Strategic Action 4.4: Increase faculty, staff, and student awareness and utilization of the Co-Curricular Transcript (CCT)
Strategic Action 4.5: Develop, implement, and evaluate an integrated online learning ecosystem to increase student success in online degree courses and programs
Strategic Goal 5: Strengthen our Culture of Care for Students, Faculty, and Staff
Strategic Action 5.1: Expand the use of pedagogical, educational and student support, and organizational practices and approaches that reduce gaps in student success
Strategic Action 5.2: Expand access to in-person and virtual academic and student support services for all student populations and ensure that virtual services mirror best practices for in-person services in multiple languages
Strategic Action 5.3: Re-imagine and redesign both the College’s physical and virtual space to increase a sense of welcoming, create in-person and virtual communities, and enhance student learning and success
Strategic Action 5.4: Scale in-person and virtual programming and interventions to bolster a sense of belonging within the College community
Strategic Action 5.5: Implement professional development activities and hiring practices for faculty and staff that prioritize strengthening the College’s culture of care in and outside the classroom
Strategic Action 5.6: Prioritize meeting students’ basic needs in regard to food, housing, and transportation including the development of a meal plan
Strategic Action 5.7: Partner with community-based organizations, business and industry, and governmental agencies to advocate for addressing and alleviating student, faculty, and staff basic needs
Strategic Action 5.8: Finalize and implement the institutional commitments that emerge from the Caring Campus Initiative
Strategic Goal 6: Strengthen BMCC’s Role in a Thriving NYC and as a Leading Community College Nationally
Strategic Action 6.1: Raise the profile of the college throughout NYC and beyond by celebrating alumni, faculty and staff research, and nationally recognized student success initiatives and programming
Strategic Action 6.2: Strengthen, grow, and leverage academic, social, and economic partnerships to benefit students, the college, and New York City
Strategic Action 6.3: Utilize, support, and publicize faculty and staff research on student success to improve learning, retention, graduation, transfer, and other educational outcomes
Strategic Action 6.4: Develop and implement a plan that addresses environmental, public health, economic, and educational sustainability
Strategic Action 6.5: Strengthen the alignment between academic programming and workforce development to include expanding career pathways, the number and scope of certificate programs, and expanding credit for prior learning
Strategic Action 6.6: Increase the number of stackable credentials, microcredentials, and badges within the College’s academic programs
Strategic Action 6.7: Develop new apprenticeships and academic programming that aligns with career opportunities that provide family sustaining wages
Strategic Action 6.8: Increase the number of academic programs utilizing industry advisory boards
Strategic Action 6.9: Demonstrate leadership and a commitment to increase equity, foster inclusion, and dismantle systematic racism
Glossary of terms
Key Performance Indicators and Targets
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27 examples of key performance indicators.
As your organization begins to sketch what your plan might look like, it’s likely come to your attention you’ll need to gain consensus around what your Key Performance Indicators will be and how they will impact your business. Even if you haven’t even thought about your KPIs yet [that’s ok too], we’ve compiled a list of examples for you to reference as you plan.
But, before we jump straight into examples, here’s a quick refresher on the meaning of KPIs [Key Performance Indicators] and why they’re a critical part of managing your plan on an ongoing basis.
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What is a KPI?
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the elements of your plan that express what you want to achieve by when. They are the quantifiable, outcome-based statements you’ll use to measure if you’re on track to meet your goals or objectives. Good plans use 5-7 KPIs to manage and track the progress of their plan. The anatomy of a structured KPI includes:
- A Measure – Every KPI must have a measure. The best KPIs have more expressive measures.
- A Target – Every KPI needs to have a target that matches your measure and the time period of your goal. These are generally a numeric value you’re seeking to achieve.
- A Data Source – Every KPI needs to have a clearly defined data source so there is no gray area in how each is being measured and tracked.
- Reporting Frequency – Different KPIs may have different reporting needs, but a good rule to follow is to report on them at least monthly.
Now that we’ve reviewed the basic anatomy of a KPI, here are 27 examples of common KPI sources we see organizations use to measure the performance of their plans:
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Examples of sales kpis.
- Number of New Contracts Signed Per Period
- Dollar Value for New Contracts Signed Per Period
- Number of Engaged Qualified Leads in Sales Funnel
- Hours of Resources Spent on Sales Follow Up
- Average Time for Conversion
- Net Sales – Dollar or Percentage Growth
Examples of Financial KPIs
- Growth in Revenue
- Net Profit Margin
- Gross Profit Margin
- Operational Cash Flow
- Current Accounts Receivables
- Inventory Turnover
Examples of Customer KPIs
- Number of Customers Retained
- Percentage of Market Share
- Net Promotor Score
- Average Ticket/Support Resolution Time
Examples of Operational KPIs
- Order Fulfillment Time
- Time to Market
- Employee Satisfaction Rating
- Employee Churn Rate
Examples of Marketing KPIs
- Monthly Website Traffic
- Number of Qualified Leads
- Conversion Rate for Call-To-Action Content
- Keywords in Top 10 Search Engine Results
- Blog Articles Published This Month
- E-Books Published This Month
[Bonus] +35 Extra Examples of Key Performance Indicators
Supply chain example key performance indicators.
- Number of On-Time Deliveries
- Inventory Carry Rate
- Months of Supply On Hand
- Inventory-to-Sales Ratio (ISR)
- Carrying Cost of Inventory
- Inventory Turnover Rate
- Perfect Order Rate
- Inventory Accuracy
Healthcare Example Key Performance Indicators
- Bed or Room Turnover
- Average Patient Wait Time
- Average Treatment Charge
- Average Insurance Claim Cost
- Medical Error Rate
- Patient-to-Staff Ratio
- Medication Errors
- Average Emergency Room Wait Times
- Average Insurance Processing Time
- Billing Code Error Rates
- Average Hospital Stay
- Patient Satisfaction Rate
Human Resource Example Key Performance Indicators
- Organization Headcount
- Average Number of Job Vacancies
- Applications Received Per Job Vacancy
- Job Offer Acceptance Rate
- Cost Per New Hire
- Average Salary
- Average Employee Satisfaction
- Employee Turnover Rate
- New Hire Training Effectiveness
Social Media Example Key Performance Indicators
- Average Engagement
- % Growth in Following
- Traffic Conversions
- Social Interactions
- Website Traffic from Social Media
- Number of Post Shares
- Social Visitor Conversion Rates
- Issues Resolved Using Social Channel
With the foundational knowledge of the KPI anatomy and a few example starting points, it’s important you build out these metrics to be detailed and have specific data sources so you can truly evaluate if you’re achieving your goals. Remember, these are going to be the 5-7 core metrics you’ll be living by for the next 12 months. A combination of leading and lagging KPIs will paint a clear picture of your organization’s strategic performance and empower you to make agile decisions to impact the success of your team. If you’d like more information on how you can build better KPIs, check out the video above and click here to see why not all KPIs are created equal.
Our Other KPI Resources
We have several other great resources to consider as you build your organization’s Key Performance Indicators! Checkout these other helpful posts and guides:
- OKRs vs. KPIs: A Downloadable Guide to Explain the Difference
- KPIs vs Metrics: Tips and Tricks to Performance Measures
- Video – How to Develop and Use Key Performance Indicators
- Guide to Establishing Weekly Health Metrics
FAQs on Key Performance Indicators
KPI stands for Key Performance Indicators. KPIs are the elements of your organization’s business or strategic plan that express what outcomes you are seeking and how you will measure their success. They express what you need to achieve by when. KPIs are always quantifiable, outcome-based statements to measure if you’re on track to meet your goals and objectives.
The 4 elements of key performance indicators are:
- A Measure – The best KPIs have more expressive measures.
- A Target – Every KPI needs to have a target that matches your measure and the time period of your goal.
- A Data Source – Every KPI needs to have a clearly defined data source.
- Reporting Frequency – A defined reporting frequency.
HI Erica hope your are doing well, Sometime Strategy doesn’t cover all the activities through the company, like maintenance for example may be quality control …. sure they have a contribution in the overall goals achievement but there is no specific new requirement for them unless doing their job, do u think its better to develop a specific KPIs for these department? waiting your recommendation
Thanks for your strategic KPIs
Hello Erica, Could you please clarify how to set KPIs for the Strategic Planning team?
Hi Diana, check out the whitepaper above for more insight!
Hello Erica, Could you please clarify, how to set the KPIs for the Strategic PLanning team?
exampels of empowerment kpis
I found great information in this article. In any case, the characteristics that KPIs must have are: measurability, effectiveness, relevance, utility and feasibility
How to write methodology guidelines for strategy implementation / a company’s review and tracking (process and workflow) for all a company’s divisions
support on strategizing Learning & Development for Automobile dealership
Could you please to clarify how to write the KPIs for the Secretary.
Check out our guide to creating KPIs for more help here: https://onstrategyhq.com/kpi-guide-download/
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Strategy Execution is a Matter of Cause and Effect: Strategic Planning and KPIs
blog , KPIs , planning season , Strategic Planning , strategy execution
If you were to review your strategic planning process, I would bet that all of your hard work boils down to a series of causes and effects:
You’re building your plan to ensure your business grows in a positive way, so you monitor effects by reviewing certain Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on a regular basis. Once you’ve outlined your desired state, you begin to develop your various strategies/tactics which you hope will cause the desired effect.
This sounds good in theory – cut and dry. Strategies in your plan should cause your business to grow, and your KPIs measure the effectiveness of those initiatives along the way. However, many of us never achieve this relationship. It’s complicated. Let me walk you through two very common troublesome scenarios I encounter on a weekly basis:
Scenario 1: KPIs Are Missing Context, So You Don’t Know What’s Causing Them to Rise or Fall
Company X develops a dashboard and sends out a report once a week to their management team. Everyone on the distribution list opens it, reviews the information, and begins to formulate questions based on what they see – a bunch of numbers.
For example, the management team will notice that a very important KPI is off track, but the dashboard doesn’t have any more information than that. They don’t know who’s responsible for the item and there’s little to no context around the information, so they can’t enter the meeting prepared with ideas for the next steps.
This scenario usually results in a hastily put-together status update meeting where everyone gets together to spend 55 minutes discovering why the KPI is down, and only 5 minutes discussing what happens next. Life becomes a series of meetings to put out fires and you can never seem to get ahead.
When you don’t have context around your KPIs ahead of time, conversations are dedicated to information-gathering instead of proactive strategy discussions.
Scenario 2: KPIs Are Missing Numbers, So You Can’t Determine the Direct Effect of Any Single Cause
Company Y maintains an extensive Excel spreadsheet that contains its FY18 strategic plan. They list out their various initiatives and latest status updates – but there isn’t a metric to be seen.
You now have insight into your organization’s activities but it’s unclear which projects “moved the needle” on your various KPIs. There’s no alignment between the desired outcomes for the organization and the activities team members are working on every day.
If you’re living in Scenario 2, there’s a term that’s used quite a bit which is, “Let’s just see how it goes.” You know the items in your plan aren’t going well, but you don’t have enough data to make any meaningful changes; you just hope that time will cure-all. At the end of the year, the measure of success is how many activities everyone completed instead of which outcomes improved.
The KPI-Based Strategy Equation
I would argue that both scenarios listed above are troubling because they’re terribly common. If you identify with either scenario, the root cause of the problem is that you only have access to half the story.
In Scenario 1, you see the quantitative information about your plans, but you can’t link which activities are driving your numbers up or down. In essence, you have complete visibility into the effect side of the equation.
In Scenario 2, you know the qualitative status of the various activities throughout your organization, but you don’t know if they’re driving outcomes. As we discussed earlier, the only reason you’re embarking on a set of activities is in the hopes of improving business outcomes. If you are only reviewing causes , you’re missing half of the equation.
How to Solve Strategy Execution with KPIs
You owe it to yourself to develop a process that incorporates both the quantitative aspects of your plan with the qualitative activities your team is working on. This can only be accomplished if you’re taking time during the creation of your plan to connect outcomes to activities.
I find it best to identify 3-5 Key Areas of Focus for your organization and develop a goal statement that outlines what “good” looks like. Basically, if everything goes well this year, what would we like to see happen in each of our focus areas?
Once that exercise is complete, develop 2-3 KPIs for each focus area that would clearly outline the health of each area. Remember to include the words increase , decrease or maintain in the development of your KPIs. Using this approach will ensure you don’t create a list of activities – that don’t measure success – because quantitative items can only move up, down, or stay the same.
Finally, I would look at each KPI and ask myself, “What activities would help move that item in the right direction?” Many times this area of your plan is reserved for “strategies,” which are basically the big projects you feel will make a positive impact.
The last step is to break down each of your strategies into slightly smaller chunks and call them “tactics.” (Note: If your strategies are set to last a year or more, you need to identify progressive success criteria at frequent intervals throughout that year+ to get a more accurate measurement.)
KPIs as a Strategic Planning Tool
It’s clear how the qualitative/quantitative approach to planning with KPIs would allow you to effectively articulate what “good” looks like, which makes it easier to explain what you’re working on and how it’s impacting outcomes.
If you follow my suggested approach, you can understand the relationship of causes and effects in your strategic plan, and therefore be able to make smarter, faster, and better business decisions. If you find yourself in either Scenario 1 or 2 please reach out to me and I’ll be happy to help.
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10 Essential KPIs for the IT Strategic Planning Process
When IT budgeting is viewed as a process to enable the strategic plan— and not an annual goal—it delivers a competitive advantage. Essential KPIs in IT strategic planning help companies make informed budgeting decisions based on shared context and a system that empowers technology experts to set their own spending plans, but these plans need KPIs that show financial fundamentals, delivery, innovation, and agility to support the business strategy as proof points that IT is delivering business value.
An efficient budgeting and forecasting process delivers the financial predictability your strategic plans rely on, but a streamlined budgeting process that adapts to changing business priorities fuels innovation.
Read our guide to learn about:
- The 10 essential KPIs for the strategic plan
- The four main standardized metrics groups
- Stop run costs from eating into your innovation agenda
- Blend Agile methodology with metrics to measure success
- Prevent analysis paralysis from changed business priorities
- Eliminate the disconnect between IT strategy and execution
- Shrink cloud variance to avoid surprises
- Minimize budgeting cycle disruption
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Measures, often known as KPIs
A KPI is something that can be counted and compared; it provides evidence of the degree to which an objective is being attained over a specified time. In short, it’s the measure of how well you’re achieving your objectives.
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So let’s take our previous objective example: “reduce the number of days taken to convert a qualified lead into a sale” and create a KPI.
How to create KPIs
First off, we have to see what can be tangibly measured. In this case, it’s days, qualified leads and sales .
Next, we have to differentiate between lead and lag KPI’s. The go-to when creating KPI’s is usually lag. Why? Because it’s easier. And everyone loves the easy way out, right? Lag KPI’s provide proof of success or failure; think of them as the scales going up or down when you’re on a diet. However, lead KPI’s are just as important to create. These are the actions that will help you succeed – using the diet example it’s the exercise you do and calories you count to lose weight. They are harder to define but are just as important.
So, when thinking of our example objective – “reduce the number of days taken to convert a qualified lead into a sale” – our measurable KPI could be – “the average number of days between a qualified lead and sale”.
Once you’ve created your KPI’s, they should be ranked in order of importance, ensuring that the right things are measured. From low to medium to high, where does your KPI fit? Which KPI is more applicable than others?
With your final list of KPI’s, it’s time to assign ownership. You’ve got to get the right person for the right job, otherwise, all your hard work will go right down the drain! Ownership of KPI’s must belong to one individual, rather than a department or team. This ensures the work actually gets done (rather than passed around from one person to another) and positive outcomes are achieved.
KPI’s only work when they are comparable to something. There needs to be an upper and lower limit to truly see how well they are performing. These limits are known as thresholds .
Your thresholds will be based on your targets, so make sure they are reasonable and achievable. You’ll need to clearly state what is both acceptable and unacceptable when recording results.
There are many different ways you can keep track of your KPI’s, for example, the in business the most common is Red, Amber, Green or RAG.
To get the most out of this workshop download the Strategic Planning Workbook , the Strategic Plan Summary one-page presentation and the Strategic Plan Template from the Intrafocus website.
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