What is a KPI? Definition, Types, How to Measure, Examples

Muthiah Aulia is a professional SEO specialist and writer with a keen focus on digital marketing. Her writing provides insightful guidance and tailored advice designed to help companies and businesses enhance their digital presence and refine strategies for attracting top talent.

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KPIs are a fundamental aspect of any successful company. They provide valuable insights into the performance of the organization, enabling decision-makers to make informed choices that drive growth and success. Whether in a start-up or a well-established company, KPIs play a crucial role in guiding the success of an organization. But what exactly is a KPI, and why is it so crucial for companies to understand and harness its potential?

What Is A KPI?

Imagine navigating a ship through choppy waters without a compass. That's what it's like to run a business without key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs are the barometers that guide organizations towards their desired destination. They serve as a key quantifiable measure of success, keeping the company's objectives in sight and providing valuable insight into the organization's performance.

So, what is a KPI? In simple terms, it's a communicated data collection that captures the essence of a company's work. It varies from organization to organization, industry to industry, and even from department to department, depending on the performance criteria. Financial KPIs, non-financial KPIs, internal KPIs, and cross-departmental KPIs all have a role to play in measuring success.

KPIs serve as a valuable tool for decision-making, providing a quick overview of performance and enabling leaders to make informed decisions. Whether you're tracking a project's progress or evaluating an employee's performance, KPIs provide a comprehensive snapshot of the company's progress. It helps the company keep a finger on the pulse of their strategic, financial, and operational processes, making it easier to tweak strategies and make adjustments where necessary.

In short, KPIs are the GPS systems of business, guiding the organization towards success and helping leaders make informed decisions. Get them right, and you'll be well on your way to realizing your organization's full potential.

What’s the Difference Between a KPI and a Metric?

Unlocking success starts with measuring it. That's where key performance indicators (KPIs) come into play. Think of KPIs as the thermometer to gauge a company's temperature on how well it's reaching its most vital business goals.

While KPIs are a type of metric, not all metrics are KPIs. A metric is simply a tool used to measure something, like size, performance, or effectiveness. However, a KPI is a metric that has been handpicked as critical in helping an organization achieve its objectives. It is an essential tool that provides valuable insight into an organization's progress towards its strategic goals.

For example, imagine a company whose goal is to boost customer satisfaction. In this scenario, a KPI might be the percentage of happy customers who report their experience as satisfactory. This metric is carefully monitored to evaluate the success of the company's customer service efforts. On the other hand, a metric such as the number of customer service calls received in a month might not be considered a KPI as it doesn't directly relate to the goal of enhancing customer satisfaction.

What Makes a Good KPI?

Crafting a compelling KPI can be a real game-changer for your business. Here's what you need to know to create KPIs that will take your company to the next level:

Link Your KPIs to Your Business Strategy and Goals

Your KPIs should be in sync with the big-picture plans for your business. If your goal is to increase monthly recurring revenue by 20% by the end of the year, your sales team's KPI might be to generate 50% more inbound leads by the end of Q3. The success of this low-level KPI directly contributes to achieving the high-level business goal.

Make Your KPIs Measurable and Actionable 

When you've identified your KPI, think about the steps you need to take to hit it, as well as the metrics you'll track along the way. A KPI is only useful if you can actually achieve it. For example, if your goal is to improve inbound leads, you need a plan in place to move prospects from the MQL to the SQL stage. The right KPIs will motivate your team to take action, not just create more questions.

Set Realistic and Attainable KPIs

It's always wise to start small and build gradually. High KPIs that are unattainable from the get-go won't do you or your team any good.

Quantify Your KPIs

When setting KPIs, think about what outcome you want to achieve, and by when. Make sure you have a clear plan for measuring success, whether that's through a data analytics tool or another method. By creating a quantifiable KPI, you'll be able to see your progress in real-time and make data-driven decisions to hit your targets.

Types of KPI

types of KPI

Although there are many varieties of KPIs, depending on the nature of its user or department implementing it. Transform your performance metrics with these 4 types of KPIs:

  1. Strategic KPIs: The high-level indicators of your company's success, such as ROI, profit margin, market share, and revenue, give you a bird's eye view of how you're doing.
  2. Operational KPIs: Keep a closer eye on your performance with metrics like CAC, MRR growth rate, and average selling price. These KPIs provide short-term insights into your progress.
  3. Functional KPIs: Customized for specific departments and their functions, these KPIs can be strategic or operational, depending on their scope.
  4. Leading & Lagging KPIs: Leading KPIs help you predict future outcomes, while lagging KPIs track what has already happened. Whether you're trying to stay ahead of the curve or analyzing past performance, these KPIs have you covered.

How to Write a KPI

Are you tired of drowning in data without a clear understanding of how to measure your business's success? Well, fear not! Creating Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that align with your company's goals has never been easier.

The first step is to identify the purpose of the KPI. What are you hoping to achieve? Why is this goal important? Once you've answered these questions, you can determine how to measure your progress towards that goal.

Next, it's crucial to assign responsibility and establish a timeline for review. How will you drive your efforts towards your goal, and who will be accountable for its outcome? How will you know when your goal has been accomplished, and how often will you track your progress?

Once you've established the basics, it's time to define your KPIs. They should be relevant and valuable to the user or department implementing them. Even if it's a functional KPI, it should always have some connection to the company's growth and goals.

After that, you can start crafting the KPI into a SMART formula. Below are some steps you can follow.

Step 1: Determine Your Objectives

Before using KPIs to measure an organization's performance, it must first establish the goals it wishes to attain. It should establish goals and objectives for all parts of the company's operations, such as expenditures, asset management, revenues, and so on. The goals should include the company's stated corporate mission as well as income.

Step 2: Determine the Critical Success Factors

The Critical Success Factors (CSF) are the actions that an organization or department should prioritize in order to succeed. A CSF must be measurable and specify a time range for the corporation to fulfill its business goals and objectives.

For example, a company that earns $50 million per year may establish a target of generating $60 million in the next 12 months. Such a goal is more detailed than just stating a goal of "raising revenues" without establishing a method of measuring performance, a target figure, and a time limit for achieving the goal.

Step 3: Create KPIs based on the CSFs

KPIs pinpoint and quantify crucial success variables while also allowing for performance evaluation. For example, a significant success factor associated to the KPI of "number of website visits" would be "persuasive social media postings". CSFs can be viewed as vital tasks that, when effectively conducted, will result in improved KPI statistics.

Step 4: Gather Measures for All Operational Aspects

This stage entails determining the numerical changes that have occurred over a certain time period. The existing data will assist the company in developing more actionable and measurable goals for the future. For example, if the company's goal is to increase revenues from $50 million to $60 million in the next year, it can begin by examining the progress made between the previous and current months.

Step 5: Convert Metrics to Measures

The measures are presented as ratios, percentages, or rates. They demonstrate how several areas under inspection perform. Although all Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are metrics, not all metrics are KPIs. A statistic must be significant enough to show that genuine progress - and progress that is regarded meaningful to the organization accomplishing its long-term goals - has occurred within a certain time frame for it to be labeled a KPI.

How to Measure a KPI

How to Measure a KPI

Measuring the success of your KPIs is crucial to determining if you're on track to achieving your business goals. The key to measuring success lies in utilizing analytics software and reporting tools that do all the heavy lifting for you. These tools will collect, store, and clean data from reliable sources and present it in a clear and concise format that is easy to understand.

With the power of analytics, tracking the progress of your KPIs has never been easier. The software will take the data, crunch the numbers, and reveal whether you're on track to achieve your goals or if adjustments need to be made. And the best part? The results are presented in a visually appealing format, making it a breeze to understand and interpret the progress of your business.

By using the right tools and techniques, measuring the success of your KPIs is a breeze. No more manual data entry or complicated spreadsheets, just real-time insights and actionable results. So, sit back, relax, and let the technology do the work for you.

Examples Of A KPI

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are the pulse of your business. They are the markers of success that keep you moving forward and help you measure progress. With so many KPIs to choose from, it can be overwhelming to determine which ones are the most impactful for your organization. To help simplify things, we've put together a comprehensive guide to KPIs for various departments.

KPI For Executive Team

Key performance indicators (KPIs) for the executive team may vary depending on the specific goals and objectives of the organization. However, some common KPIs for the executive team might include:

  • Revenue Growth: How much has your business grown in terms of revenue over a specific period of time?
  • Profit Margin: What percentage of sales are turned into profits?
  • Customer Satisfaction: How satisfied are your customers with your goods or services?
  • Employee Satisfaction: How satisfied are your employees with their work environment?
  • Return on Investment (ROI): What is the return on investments made by the company?
  • Time to Market: How much time does it take to bring a new product or service to market?
  • Market Share: What percentage of the total market does your organization's products or services represent?

KPI for Finance Department

Below are the examples of general KPI for Finance Department.

  • Quick Ratio: A quick assessment of your company's financial health.
  • Current Ratio: Measures your company's ability to meet its financial obligations within a year.
  • Working Capital: The amount of money your company has available to put to use.
  • Accounts Payable Turnover: How long it takes to pay your suppliers.
  • Cash Conversion Cycle (CCC): The number of days it takes to convert goods back to cash.
  • Return on Equity (ROE): How efficiently shareholder equity is being utilized.
  • Total Debt-to-Equity Ratio: Compares liabilities to the equity of shareholders.
  • Gross Profit Margin: The amount of money left from revenue after deducting the cost of goods sold.
  • Net Profit Margin: The bottom line - how much money the company makes in relation to revenue.
  • Earnings Per Share (EPS): A key metric for reporting.

KPI for Marketing Department

Marketing is the lifeblood of any organization and its success can be measured through key performance indicators (KPIs). These KPIs can vary depending on the company's objectives, but here are some of the most common ones used by businesses:

  • Traffic: A KPI that gauges the number of visitors to your website or the reach of your advertising campaigns. It helps to evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing strategies in attracting potential customers.
  • Conversion Rate: A metric that calculates the percentage of visitors who take a desired action after visiting your website or seeing your ad. Whether it's making a purchase or filling out a form, this KPI helps determine the success of your marketing efforts in turning leads into customers.
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): The cost of acquiring a new customer, including marketing and sales expenses, is measured by this KPI. Use it to assess the efficiency of your marketing initiatives in bringing in new customers.
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): This KPI projects the value a customer will bring to your business over the course of their relationship with you. Use it to evaluate the performance of your marketing strategies in retaining valuable clients.
  • Brand Awareness: Measuring public recognition of your brand and its visibility, this KPI helps assess the impact of your marketing efforts in building brand awareness.
  • Social Media Engagement: The level of interaction your brand receives on social media platforms, such as likes, comments, and shares, is measured by this KPI. Use it to track the success of your social media marketing campaigns.
  • Email Open and Click-Through Rates: A KPI that calculates the percentage of people who open your emails and the percentage of those who click on a link within the email. Use it to determine the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts.

KPI for IT Department

IT departments play a crucial role in ensuring the smooth functioning of a business, and their success can be measured through KPIs. Some common KPIs for IT departments include:

  • Uptime: A metric that measures the percentage of time your systems and services are available and operational. Use it to assess the reliability and availability of your IT infrastructure.
  • Response Time: The amount of time it takes for your systems and services to respond to a request is measured by this KPI. Use it to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of your IT infrastructure.
  • Security Breaches: This KPI counts the number of security incidents or breaches that occur within your organization. Use it to track the effectiveness of your IT department in protecting your systems and data.
  • Ticket Resolution Time: The time it takes for your IT team to respond to a service request or problem is measured by this KPI. Use it to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of your IT department in problem-solving.
  • Project Completion Rate: A rate that calculates the percentage of IT projects completed on time and within budget. Use it to determine the speed and effectiveness of your IT department in completing projects.
  • Employee Satisfaction: This KPI measures the level of satisfaction among your IT department employees and can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of your IT department in creating a positive work environment.
  • IT Spend: The cost of the IT department's budget compared to the organization's overall budget is measured by this KPI. Use it to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of your IT department in managing its resources.

KPI for Sales Department

Revving up your sales with these KPIs:

  • Revenue: This is the driving force behind your sales department and measures the amount of money generated from sales efforts. With this KPI, your sales team can track their progress and see if they are helping the business grow.
  • Sales Growth: Want to know if your sales department is taking your business to new heights? This KPI tracks the growth in sales over a certain period and is a reliable gauge of the sales department's contribution to the growth of the company.
  • Average Deal Size: This KPI captures the average sale value and helps your sales team see if they are closing big deals. A high average deal size is a great indicator of a thriving sales department.
  • Win Rate: This KPI measures the percentage of sales opportunities that are successfully closed, giving your sales team a clear picture of their ability to turn prospects into customers.
  • Lead Conversion Rate: Want to see if your sales team is closing the deal? This rate calculates the percentage of leads that are converted into customers, giving you an accurate picture of the sales team's ability to convert prospects into clients.
  • Customer Retention Rate: This KPI tracks the proportion of customers who continue to do business with the company, giving your sales department a clear understanding of their ability to retain customers.
  • Time to Close: This KPI measures the time it takes to close a deal, allowing your sales team to assess their speed and efficiency in closing deals.

KPI for HR Department

Here are some KPIs for the HR department:

  • Turnover Rate: This KPI measures the percentage of employees who leave the organization within a given period, giving your HR department a clear picture of their ability to retain workers.
  • Time to Fill: Want to know how your HR department is doing in the hiring process? This KPI measures the duration needed to fill an open position, giving you a reliable gauge of the HR department's performance in hiring.
  • Employee Satisfaction: This KPI measures how happy your employees are and is a great way to see how well the HR department is doing in creating a positive work environment.
  • Training and Development: This KPI measures the number of employees who participate in training and development programs, and how effective those programs are in improving skills and performance.
  • Diversity and Inclusion: This KPI tracks the representation and inclusion of diverse groups within the organization, giving your HR department a clear picture of their effectiveness in fostering diversity and inclusion.
  • Benefits Utilization: This KPI calculates the percentage of employees who take advantage of the organization's benefits programs, giving your HR department a clear understanding of their effectiveness in promoting and managing these programs.
  • Performance Management: This KPI measures the effectiveness of the organization's performance management processes, including goal setting, performance evaluations, and feedback. The company can use it to assess the effectiveness of the HR department in managing employee performance.

KPI for Operational Department

Below are several KPIs for the operational department.

  • Production Power: This KPI tracks the quantity of goods or services produced by the organization and helps evaluate the operational department's success in hitting production targets.
  • Quality Matters: Quality standards are the backbone of any successful business, and this KPI measures the number of products or services that meet the mark.
  • Timeliness is Key: On-Time Delivery measures the percentage of orders that are delivered right on schedule, providing a glimpse into the operational division's ability to fulfill client needs.
  • Utilizing Resources: Capacity Utilization calculates the usage rate of the organization's production capacity, helping assess the operational department's wise use of resources.
  • Inventory Efficiency: Inventory Turnover calculates the frequency of inventory sales and replacement, providing a snapshot of the operational department's inventory management skills.
  • Cost Management: Cost of Goods Sold tracks the total cost of producing and selling the company's products or services, helping evaluate the operational department's cost management abilities.
  • Resourceful Productivity: This KPI measures the output per unit of input, giving the team a look at how effectively the operational division uses resources to generate goods or services.

KPI for Customer Service Department

The KPIs for customer service might include:

  • Happy Customers: Customer Satisfaction gauges the level of customer happiness with the company's products or services and helps determine how well customer service meets customer needs.
  • Quick Solutions: First Contact Resolution Rate assesses how many customer questions or problems are solved during the first interaction with customer service, evaluating the efficiency of issue resolution.
  • Speedy Service: Average Handle Time measures the average time it takes for customer service representatives to handle a customer inquiry or issue, helping the company determine their handling efficiency.
  • Raving Fans: Net Promoter Score (NPS) assesses the likelihood that customers will spread the word about the business, providing insight into customer loyalty and satisfaction.
  • Retaining Customers: Customer Churn Rate measures the percentage of customers who stop doing business with the organization, helping assess the effectiveness of customer service in retaining customers.
  • Loyal Followers: Customer Loyalty tracks the proportion of customers who consistently do business with the company, evaluating customer service's success in retaining clients.
  • Cost-Effective Retention: Customer Retention Cost measures the cost of keeping a customer, including customer service expenses, helping assess the efficiency of customer service in retaining customers.


A KPI, when carefully crafted, can guide you or your department towards your desired outcome and give you a pulse on your progress. Don't shy away from making tweaks and adjustments along the way. Consider it a flexible blueprint that aligns with the company's overarching goals. At the end of the day, the real magic lies in the consistent execution of the KPI by all members of the organization.

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