How do you measure the success of your business? How do you find out where it’s performing well and where there’s room for improvement? KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) can help you. Here’s how they work.
Doctors use KPIs to measure our health and wellbeing. Our body mass index (BMI), blood pressure and cholesterol level are all KPIs that have a specific medical meaning.
In the same way, business KPIs carry specific meanings too. Debt/equity ratio, debtor days and gross profit percentage are all measures that indicate important milestones in a business context.
Key performance indicators are used by businesses of all sizes. KPI measurement uses data to show how well your business is performing. They will be different for each business, but the basic idea is the same. Their primary function – to measure the important features of your business.
On its own, your blood pressure reading only says a little about your overall health. When you combine this with cholesterol levels and BMI, you and your doctor get a more informed picture of your health. In the same way, a business KPI tells a small part of the story about your business. Looking at set of business KPIs or metrics tells a bigger story.
Measuring KPIs helps you understand your business from top to bottom. You can use that knowledge to make effective, strategic decisions.
Think carefully about which areas of your business are suitable for measurement. Different sets of metrics are important for different businesses. Focusing on the right ones gives you early confirmation of success or early alerts to potential problems.
We can help you decide which are the important indicators for you. When we advise you about this, we will consider:
A KPI is a metric, which means it’s a way of measuring your business. To be effective, it should be:
Financial KPIs come from the data in your accounting system. Non-financial KPIs come from data outside of your accounting system, such as your website and your CRM system. This guide focuses on financial KPIs.
Here are examples of what you might measure:
KPIs are useful tools to help you measure the performance of your business. But you need to use them sensibly. Don’t just take them at face value.
A sales dip recorded by a KPI might be due to seasonal variation. For example, people don’t buy much winter clothing in summer. There’s not a lot you can do about that – it’s not the fault of your sales staff.
Similarly, inventory turnover might drop because you bought lots of inventory while a supplier had a sale. Normally a drop in inventory turnover would be a concern. In this case, you would monitor inventory turnover to check that it returns to normal as you sell the surplus inventory.
So it is important to understand what KPIs are telling you before you try to solve a problem. If you use common sense, key performance indicators are useful tools. Again, your accountant can really help out by interpreting the message the metrics are giving you.
Effective key performance indicators can be organised into groups. Here are four groups that could have a big impact on your business.
These are just examples. No doubt you can think of others that might apply to your particular business.
Remember, you can use modern accounting software to track some of these KPI groups. And if that software is cloud based, you can keep an eye on your KPIs from anywhere and at any time.
As you can see, key performance indicators are useful in all areas of business. But it’s important to use them in the right way and not just define a KPI and then forget about it. Make sure that whatever you choose to measure is reviewed and tracked on a regular and frequent basis.
KPIs will help you get a clear view of where your business is now – and where it’s going. Used properly, they help you take the pulse of your organisation’s health.
If you want assistance in setting up your KPIs, so you can ensure they are accurate and relevant, give us a call!