Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in December 2015. Due to popular demand, it has been updated to include images and additional details on each of the three KPI templates.
We have three KPI report templates for you. But before we detail what they look like, here’s a brief refresher course on KPIs.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are important measures that help you understand how your organization or department is performing as you work toward your objectives.
Good KPIs act as a navigation tool to help you evaluate your organization’s progress toward its goals. Using the right KPIs helps to ensure your team is on the right path to achieving strategic goals. Effective KPIs must be:
- Easily defined
- Communicated to the team
- Crucial for goal achievement
Why use a KPI report template?
You’ve been S.M.A.R.T. in selecting your KPIs—now you need to be smart about tracking them! This is where a KPI report template comes in. It is simply a strategic method of tracking your KPIs that will help your department or organization stay organized. (For a practical example of a KPI template in action, take a look at this article.)
The “ideal” version of the key performance indicator template is our advanced template, as it contains the most detail—but it is not always realistic to gather that much information when you are just getting started with a scorecard.
To avoid getting bogged down, first decide on the level of detail you want for each measure you’re tracking and how much consistency you’re looking for across the same metric from month to month. If you’re just getting started using KPIs, consider using either the beginner or mid-level template. Over time, you will be able to progress to the advanced template.
Below, we’ve outlined the information commonly found in a standard KPI template, a mid-level KPI template, and an advanced KPI template. To help you visualize what a dashboard might look like for each, we’ve included screenshots from ClearPoint.
Standard KPI Template
Using a standard KPI template helps you avoid getting bogged down with too much data or dealing with “KPI fatigue” (which can happen easily if you jump right to the advanced template). Use this template if any of the following situations apply:
- You are just beginning to track your metrics.
- You don’t have much historical metric data to work from.
- You’re still trying to get leadership buy-in on the KPI tracking process.
- You’re still working on getting people within the organization to contribute.
Once you’ve met these basic requirements, you can move up to more detailed templates.
A standard KPI template should include the following fields:
|1. Measure Description: This provides context behind the measure.
2. Measure Owner: This provides accountability.
3. Measure Formula: This helps with data consistency, as people need to know where to find this information so they can gather and compare it over time.
Mid-Level KPI Template
Once you have more historical measure data gathered for your measures and can establish targets for each KPI, you’ll want want to move from the standard template to the mid-level template. This template adds more context behind the data, allowing you and your team to be more consistent when you look at your measures period to period.
|1. Measure Description, as shown in the standard template.
2. Measure Owner, as shown in the standard template above, with the addition of:
3. Measure Formula, as shown in the standard template above, with the addition of:
4. Measure RAG Status: In the mid-level KPI template, you’ll want to be able to easily see if you’re reaching your targets—or how close you are to reaching your targets. Additionally, you’ll want to ensure consistency with each KPI from period to period. (Note: These measurements can be generated automatically if you’re using a KPI tool.) At this level you’ll need to determine your tolerance range for all KPIs—for example:
Advanced KPI Template
If you’re interested in data visualizations and/or you already have targets established, you might choose to use the advanced template. Additionally, this template can be useful if you have a large number of people contributing to one KPI (as it allows for better tracking).
|1. Measure Description, as shown in the standard and mid-level templates.
2. Measure Owner & Data Gatherer: Whereas the standard and mid-level templates only list a measure owner, an advanced KPI template should list both a measure owner and a data gatherer. In larger organizations, this may be two different people:
3. Measure Formula, as shown in the mid-level template above, with the addition of:
4. Charted Data: Seeing the data charted allows measure owners—and everyone else—to see how a KPI is progressing period to period. Depending on the chart used, you can also compare the data to other organizations or other sources of data.
5. Measure RAG Status: In an advanced KPI template, you may choose to refine your RAG statuses for each individual measure. For example, if a measure needs greater precision, you may decide Yellow signifies that you’re only 2% off target; and a different measure needing less precision may qualify as Yellow if it’s below 90%.
If you’re just getting started, don’t skip to the advanced KPI template.
If you’re still figuring out exactly what a key performance indicator looks like for your organization, it’s a good idea to start with the most basic template outlined above. Your executive team may be begging for details that are in the mid-level or advanced template, but you can work up to those when you’re ready.
It’s important to understand your capabilities and limitations before you get started, so you don’t get bogged down in the details. Don’t just track KPIs for the sake of doing so. Instead, follow the steps above to ensure your KPI tracking is valuable and purposeful. Good luck!