How to pick the best KPIs for your business

Key Performance Indicator's (KPI) are measurement practices that businesses can establish to assess the favorable outcome of an individual business improvement tactic. KPI's are used in tandem with the business's growth towards a set goal. The use KPI's in business extends beyond the overall results, and can be equally distributed amongst sub-departments.

KPI's aren't usually financial practices that business puts in place, rather -- KPI's are seen as tools for influencing the behavior of business practices, with less emphasis on the measurements. A business has to have a strategy in place that would help evaluating the progress of certain business tactics, and whether there is room for improvement.

But how does a business go about picking the best KPI? The following KPI's can be applied to a global range of businesses, and will be useful for setting the KPI practice in stone.

1. Start with your business goals

Seeing that KPI's are most often used for measuring your business goals, it's pivotal that your ideas about goals you wish to achieve are clear. Once you have a clear idea of the goals you wish to achieve, you can begin elucidating your KPI's. Goals should be strict and clear so you can easily follow and measure them. Example: "Have sales department boost global sales by 10% over the next 6 months.", or "Increase client acquisition by 25% over the next 12 months." -- this gives you and your employees a clear direction to follow.

Educate yourself about the types of KPI's that are being used across a wide range of industries, because although sales and marketing might seem the same on paper, their characteristics define the kind of KPI's you'll find most useful to apply.

2. Create consistency in your KPI's

The best kind of KPI is one that is consistent across all of your business departments. Create templates that your employees can use to reference each of the KPI's, and their relevant source of data, the approach used to display results, and the frequency of KPI changes. If you find your manager coming to you at the end of the day and asking you, "How was this result calculated?" -- there's clear lack of consistency. Campaign KPI's should follow the basic rule of a purposeful end result.

3. Are your KPI's measurable?

Key Performance Indicators will only help your bottom line if you establish them as measurable units. It won't matter in which industry your business operates, because unless you can measure KPI performance and its success, it doesn't serve your long-term strategy of measurable goals. A solid KPI will provide your business with tangible insight about your goal performance.

Employees can be (should be?) considered as individual KPI's too. If you're running a business that provides services, then your employees end up being one of the biggest expenses. Taking this into account, analyzing individual employee performance that help with managing costs, and further boosting performance.

Watch how you structure your KPI's, since not all indicators can be considered a KPI, and educating yourself about the differences is vital.

4. Less KPI's is more

The idea of using Key Performance Indicators to measure business success is practical, but focusing on evaluating too many KPI's can lead to frustration, fatigue, and general confusion amongst your employees. So, it's vital that you measure only the specific data that would in long-term make your bottom line stronger. Starting with an extended list of KPI's is a great first step, but as your list of goals continues to grow -- narrow them down to the essentials. Industry standard is anywhere from 2 to 10 performance indicators, everything else is unnecessary, which you probably already know.

Working with KPI templates will strengthen your ability to narrow the focus from global business goals, to specific indicators that cater to each department individually.