Status indicators can tell you important information about performance at a glance, and the information is not limited to reporting financial values such as “Total Revenue”. Status indicators can depict any kind numeric information. Different organizations might set quite different targets.
For example, perhaps your organization wants to re-train key employees. Status indicators can keep you up-to-date on how many employees have begun training, how many have completed the training program, or let you know whether a training program development process is on track. Here are a few ways that different groups use status indicators:
- Customer service A customer service group wants to improve its response rate for service requests. One status indicator might track the total number of customer service requests per day. Then, an associated indicator in the same list might represent the number of minutes required per request.
- Online retail catalog store A sales unit wants to increase revenue from sales in the European Union and South America by 5%. A status indicator might report on the total sales of a particular product or the total sales of all products by country/region.
- Human resources A human resources organization wants to decrease the number of workdays lost to illness by 10%. One indicator can track the number of lost workdays, and another might report on employee participation in on-site fitness offerings.
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How can I select good status indicators?
Status indicators can not only keep you up-to-date on progress toward a goal, just using indicators can help improve performance. Typically, people in all kinds of work strive to improve published scores. This can be good thing for the organization, because when indicators depict key success factors, people work to improve performance in ways that matter. However, if the indicators report performance on factors that are not important (or even detrimental), people also work to make those scores better. Poorly designed indicators can actually derail organizational strategy.
The key to selecting the correct performance indicators is to understand what your organization wants to achieve.
- Understand what your end goals are, and understand the attributes of success for your organization.
Most organizations collect lots of data. However, lots of data is useless if it presents more questions than it answers. Make sure that the status indicators in your report address the key questions that you must answer. For example, if you measure the number of customer service calls, you will learn how effective your telephone service is. If you measure the time that is required to resolve specific types of customer problems, you will learn how cost-effective the customer service team is.
- Develop a way to refine your indicators
Develop a way to decide whether the indicators that you identify are, in fact, key indicators. At the end of collecting and organizing information, you must decide what is most important. As you begin to identify what questions you have to answer, determine why a particular question might be important and what that question might tell you about success.
- Know where to find the data
To create an indicator, you must identify where the supporting data will come from. Is the data in a SQL Server database? On an Excel worksheet? On a SharePoint site? In a collection of e-mail messages? At early stages, it is enough to identify the business system that holds the data. Later, you might have to identify more detailed sources, such as specific rows and columns in an Excel workbook, or tables in a database.
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What about security considerations
If a status indicator contains sensitive information, such as KPI measures that are pulled from an SQL Server Analysis Services cube, you might want to set permissions that control which users can view or change the data. Your site administrator or site owner can set permissions in several different ways to protect data. For example, you can set permissions for the Data Connections library and on the data source item in the library, set permissions for the Status List page, or set permissions on a source list. For more information, see the articles in the See Also list.
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