Keeping up with the KPIs 10 steps to help identify and monitor key performance indicators for your business

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1 Keeping up with the KPIs 10 steps to help identify and monitor key performance indicators for your business KNOW YOUR KPI A key performance indicator (KPI) is a performance measure (metric) designed to show at a glance how well the business is meeting one of a set of objectives. Businesses everywhere are collecting a literal flood of digital data. Every manufacturing, purchasing, sales, and shipping transaction, as well as purchase histories, browsing habits, feedback ratings, and so on. They are collecting potentially valuable information every second of the day. But there s the rub: potentially. How exactly do you decide what in that multitude of data sources is actually of any value? Which should you examine and analyze further, and which are just background noise? Even in a small company, the sheer volume of data precludes any kind of mass monitoring. Instead, you have to identify and prioritize the sources most likely to yield information of value. Information which, if acted on, could improve productivity, profitability, the customer experience, compliance, or competitiveness, and avoid or mitigate risk and errors. Commonly referred to as key performance indicators (KPIs) these measures are a kind of business weather gauge, showing you how well (or badly) you re doing and what impact any changes are having. It sounds simple enough; the hard part is working out what to keep an eye on. What matters for one type of business may be of little value to another. Fortunately, there are a number of common factors that influence KPI selection, and in this guide we take you through the steps required to identify and hone in on the metrics that matter the most for your business.

2 WHITEPAPER 2 1 IDENTIFY YOUR GOALS Before choosing any metrics for monitoring, you need to know what your business goals really are, and just as importantly, what actions you expect to take to achieve them. A lot of retail businesses will, for example, be looking to increase sales by being competitive on price. That would mean keeping tabs on metrics that show how prices compare and where reductions are possible by lowering the cost of sales. Some retailers, however, may prefer to focus on improving returns through greater customer satisfaction, which would mean monitoring rates of shopping cart abandonment, refund levels, support call volumes, poll ratings, and other associated satisfaction metrics. Make a list of business goals and objectives. Discuss what you need to do to achieve those goals with line of business managers and other stakeholders tasked with delivering on them. Look for metrics that can tell you how well you are meeting your goals. 2 BE, AND STAY, FOCUSED Given the huge amount of data available to companies these days, and the ease with which it can be collected, there s a huge temptation to monitor as much as possible. Quantity, however, does not always equate to quality, and when it comes to KPIs, less is quite definitely more. Too many KPIs can be a real distraction, delivering a wide overview of business performance but making it hard to spot trends and differentiate between those that are important and those mere background noise. A tip here is to get key decision-makers to think outside the box by asking them what they would like to know about what was happening in their department when away on vacation. DRIVEN BY DASHBOARDS Often used to present KPIs, a dashboard is an application that displays one or more visualizations (charts, maps, dials, etc.) presenting data metrics such as sales volume by region, customer satisfaction ratings, production figures, and so on. Dashboards can be either static or interactive. Interactive dashboards enable users to drill-down to see more detailed metrics. For example, clicking on a graphic of overall sales might open a view of top selling products, top sales personnel, or other measure contributing to the result. Prioritize the metrics you think are important. Choose no more than 10 KPIs to follow, preferably fewer. Analyze and summarize the metrics being monitored. 3 MONITOR BOTH LAGGING AND LEADING INDICATORS This is where we get a bit technical, though not hugely. In essence, lagging indicators tell you how well you ve done in the past, leading indicators, often referred to as business drivers, tell you how well you can expect to do in the future. Because past performance is easy to measure, most companies focus on lagging indicators when choosing KPIs, monitoring metrics such as historical sales volume, achieved margins, billable hours, support incidents, and so on. All these measures tell you how well the business is performing, while providing a wealth of historical data for further analysis to help identify trends and potential opportunities. However, no matter how up to date lagging indicators, they can t identify the business drivers behind trends before they happen; that s where leading indicators come into the equation. Sudden increases in retail website traffic, for example, is a leading indicator for sales growth, while in financial markets, interest and exchange rates, energy prices, and similar leading indicators help analysts make informed decisions on when and what to buy and sell. Businesses should monitor both lagging and leading indcators. Lagging indicators tend to be fairly similar across industries, and leading indicators a lot more specific to the kind of business. Do not neglect either of these because poor lagging indicators tend to encourage poor or even misleading leading indicators.

3 WHITEPAPER 3 Make sure you choose suitable lagging indicators to provide a snapshot of how well the business is performing. Identify business drivers by monitoring leading indicators likely to impact future performance. Choose indicators with an obvious relationship to key trends, which clearly show when business drivers are going up or down. 4 BEWARE OF FEEL-GOOD METRICS There is a huge temptation to focus on inexact, feel-good metrics that appear to show how well an organization is doing, but in reality provide little of any real value for building or advancing the business. Facebook Likes are a good example. Often thought of as a reliable indicator when gauging the effectiveness of a marketing campaign, they are inexact and only indirectly linked to such activities. Facebook Likes can also be influenced by other factors often beyond the control of the business, making them a poor metric to employ. LOOKING GOOD KPIs can be displayed in a number of ways, but most businesses prefer to visualize their metrics using charts, geographical maps, traffic lights, and dials that make the information more immediate and help to clearly differentiate between positive and negative trends and business drivers going up or down. Make sure the metrics chosen are easily measurable. Choose metrics with direct links to your business activities and goals. Avoid metrics that can be influenced by multiple factors. 5 UNDERSTAND THAT KPIS CAN, AND SHOULD, CHANGE OVER TIME Nothing in business ever stands still and neither should your KPIs. Start-ups, for example, tend to focus on rapid business growth, market share, and capitalization, but will quickly switch to fine tuning the business model, putting emphasis on service levels, customer satisfaction, and other indicators to validate the approach being taken. Similarly, companies need to adapt to changing market conditions, technological innovations, and general trends, all of which means keeping a close eye on the KPIs and metrics used to make management decisions. Perform regular audits of your KPIs to insure their continued relevance. Be prepared to drop KPIs and add new ones as the business changes and grows. Look for new metrics and leading indicators that can be exploited to drive the business forward. Employ tools that allow you to update and change data dashboards quickly to adapt to new KPI requirements. 6 CHOOSE KPIS THAT USERS CAN UNDERSTAND Because KPIs tend to be developed and deployed in a top-down manner, they often measure performance in broad financial terms that many users find hard to understand. Financials may be fine for the CEO and board and executive level staff, but where KPIs are deployed more widely across an organization, it is important to use metrics that are accessible to all stakeholders. Branch or departmental goals, for example, are better than company or country metrics. Production might be better reported in terms of units rather than value. Service is better measured by hours sold instead of financial yield and so on. Involve stakeholders in the KPI development process. Get users to test and score your KPIs before going live. Continually monitor the use and effectiveness of KPIs.

4 WHITEPAPER 4 7 CHOOSE KPIS THAT USERS CAN INFLUENCE Where metrics are used to motivate and incentivize staff they should be chosen because they measure something that those involved can influence and control. There is little value starting the day in a call center with a KPI dashboard showing material cost percentages and overhead absorption rates for example, when the only influence staff has is on call closing and customer satisfaction. Equally important is to educate and train users in how KPIs relate to the work they do, and who is accountable for their management. Users also need to understand how their actions can influence the metrics involved and the result such actions can have on their jobs and the business in general. MAKING YOUR KPIs SMART Specific: Are your KPIs clear and focused on business goals? Measurable: Do your KPIs employ easily quantifiable metrics? Attainable: Are your KPI targets reasonable and achievable? Relevant: Can stakeholders understand and use your KPIs? Time-bound: Have you set time limits on meeting your KPI goals? Choose metrics that relate directly to the work of those using them. Choose metrics that clearly reflect user productivity. Train users in the relevance of KPIs, and how they reflect their individual input to the business. 8 TEST AND VALIDATE THE DATA METRICS Before making KPIs widely available, it s important to be sure that the metrics and measuring system are valid. That process begins with ensuring you have access to appropriate and up-to-date data sources. It continues with extensive testing to validate the repeatability of the results produced by the analysis and measuring algorithm employed. The question to ask here is, will the metrics being applied yield results that are meaningful, reliable, and timely for sound management and decision-making? You might also want to consider a KPI that rates the effectiveness of all other KPIs in the organization. Test KPI analyses using live data sources wherever possible. Validate data and metrics for accuracy, repeatability, and meaning. Test using all the planned platforms (fixed and mobile) for your data dashboards. Involve all stakeholders in the test and validation process. 9 EDUCATE AND INFORM It is all very well spending time, money, and effort on identifying and developing KPIs to help move your business forward, but that will all be wasted if you fail to educate staff as to their importance. In particular, you need to train your leadership team and line of business decision-makers to understand what the chosen metrics and key indicators are all about and how to use them to improve the business. Moreover, it is important that your staff not only understand KPIs, but recognize the potential business impact of acting on them. Run staff training sessions on understanding KPIs and their importance to the business. Include KPI awareness in job descriptions and appraisals. Encourage KPI-driven work processes.

5 WHITEPAPER 5 10 THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE KPI JOB Part of the process of developing and deploying KPIs is choosing suitable tools to both analyze your preferred data metrics and display the results (visualize) in an easy to understand format. Some companies will develop custom applications to achieve this, either in-house or by outsourcing to specialist developers. A large number, however, will make use of readily available office productivity tools, most notably Microsoft Excel, although it is worth reading another of our ebooks to find out why we don t think this a good idea: Five Reasons Spotfire Is Better than Excel for Business Data Analytics. At TIBCO we think the best approach is, instead of Excel, a specialist application like TIBCO Spotfire to create, share, and manage KPI applications. Purposefully designed to help our customers analyze, visualize, and share data metrics, Spotfire is an easy to use analytic tool that empowers users to build not just individual KPI visuals and interactive data dashboards, but more complex applications for predictive analysis. Spotfire is specifically designed to help lead to actions that can be taken for biggest impact on KPIs. Evaluate TIBCO Spotfire now. Don t just take our word for it, sign up for a free trial of TIBCO Spotfire today or register for one of our live Spotfire demos to find out for yourself just how easy it is to both get more from your data and keep up with your KPIs. Global Headquarters 3307 Hillview Avenue Palo Alto, CA TEL FAX TIBCO Software empowers executives, developers, and business users with Fast Data solutions that make the right data available in real time for faster answers, better decisions, and smarter action. Over the past 15 years, thousands of businesses across the globe have relied on TIBCO technology to integrate their applications and ecosystems, analyze their data, and create real-time solutions. Learn how TIBCO turns data big or small into differentiation at 2016, TIBCO Software Inc. All rights reserved. TIBCO and the TIBCO logo, and Spotfire are trademarks or registered trademarks of TIBCO Software Inc. or its subsidiaries in the United States and/or other countries. All other product and company names and marks in this document are the property of their respective owners and mentioned for identification purposes only. 02/01/16

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